Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Did the Jews kill Jesus?

There is a common assumption amongst the Jewish people regarding Christians: “Christians believe that we, the Jews, killed Jesus.” Is it true – do all Christians believe this? Sadly, it has been stated and used in violence against Jewish people for two millennia. 

My Jewish Learning explains: “In the most controversial verse in all the passion narratives, the assembled members of the Jewish community tell Pilate, “[Jesus’] blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). This is the source for the Christian belief that later generations of Jews are also guilty of deicide, the crime of killing God.”

In May 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), of which the United States is a member, adopted a working definition of antisemitism that includes: “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.”
Thus, today it is considered antisemitic – an act of hate against the Jewish people – to spread this belief.

But as believers, what do we know as truth regarding who killed Jesus? 

Why did Jesus have to die? Who killed Jesus?

Something we must remember is the reasons Jesus had to die. The lens of salvation and the fulfillment of biblical prophecy is essential to understanding the big picture. Let’s not forget this foundation of our faith when the question of “Did the Jewish kill Jesus?” surfaces.

Atonement for Sin

Our central belief as Christians is that Jesus died to atone for the sins of humanity. According to Christian doctrine, all humans are born sinners due to the original sin of Adam and Eve. Sin separates humanity from God.
Jesus’ death on the cross is a sacrifice that redeems humanity from sin and restores the relationship between God and man. We see a confirmation of this in various scriptural passages, such as John 3:16 and Romans 5:8.

Fulfillment of Prophecy

Jesus’ death was and is (and should be) seen as fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. For instance, Isaiah 53 describes a “suffering servant” who takes on the sins of others and is punished in their place.
This chapter from Isaiah is one of the most prominent messianic prophesies in the Old Testament. Thanks to this passage we know that Jesus’ death clearly was necessary part of God’s divine plan.

Victory over Death and Evil

Jesus defeated death and evil through His death and subsequent resurrection. This victory offers believers the hope of eternal life and resurrection, as described in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57.
Jesus’ resurrection proves His divinity and solidifies the promise of life beyond physical death.

Revelation of God’s Love and Justice

The act of Jesus’ crucifixion can also be seen as a demonstration of God’s love and justice. It shows God’s love in that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son for humanity. All the while it demonstrates God’s justice in dealing righteously with sin.
God’s Decision
Let’s not forget some of Jesus’ most important words about His ultimate sacrifice and victory. God decided to send Him to earth, and Jesus understood His mission. He specifically said:
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:17-18, emphasis added)

Jesus’ relationship with the Jewish public: Did the Jews kill Jesus?

In thinking about whether or not the Jews killed Jesus, we should consider the greater context of Jesus’ life. Jesus cared deeply about the Jewish people and wanted to remain connected to them. He himself was characterized by His identity as a Jew.
All of Jesus’ first followers were Jewish. Jesus kept the Jewish law, as outlined in the Torah. In His three years of ministry, leading up to His death, His main role was that of a teacher and a healer. As such, Jesus engaged with various social groups within Jewish society—from tax collectors to Torah experts.

Jesus’ Jewish Identity

The Messiah’s genealogy is pretty straightforward. Jesus was born into a Jewish family, observed Jewish laws and customs, and participated in Jewish festivals.
His teachings were deeply rooted in the Jewish Scriptures, and He often quoted from them. He was recognized by many as a rabbi and was engaged in the religious and cultural life of His community.

Public Ministry

Much of Jesus’ ministry was directed toward the Jewish people. He traveled throughout Galilee and Judea, teaching in synagogues, speaking to crowds in public places, and sharing meals with people from various walks of life.
His teachings often used parables, a common Jewish teaching method. Then, He addressed themes relevant to the Jewish context of the time, such as the Kingdom of God, the law, and the prophets.

Engagement with Marginalized Groups

Jesus frequently interacted with those on the fringes of the Jewish society. This included tax collectors, prostitutes, and the poor.
His willingness to engage with and even defend these marginalized individuals sometimes drew criticism from more conservative elements within Jewish society. But it also attracted a following among those who felt alienated by the mainstream religious leadership.

Did controversies and conflicts lead to the Jews killing Jesus?

 While many Jews were attracted to Jesus’ message and followed Him, His teachings and actions also sparked controversy. Particularly among religious groups, like the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus’ challenges to traditional interpretations of the law and His claims about His identity and mission led to significant tensions.

Disciples and Followers

Jesus gathered around Him a group of disciples, most of whom were Jewish. These disciples became the primary witnesses to His life, death, and some to His resurrection.
After His death, they continued to spread His teachings. Initially, they traveled among Jewish communities, which then formed the early Christian movement.

The Jewish Reaction to Jesus’ Crucifixion

The reaction among the Jewish people to Jesus’ crucifixion was mixed. The Gospels suggest that certain Jewish leaders played a role in orchestrating His death. Nevertheless, there were also many among the Jewish populace who mourned His death. 
It is worth noting that some Jews had hailed Jesus as Messiah during His life, particularly during events like His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Did the Jews kill Jesus? Who ultimately killed Him?

As for who ultimately killed Jesus, this question can be approached from two perspectives.

Human Agents

Historically, Jesus was crucified by the Romans, under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.
Jewish leaders at the time, particularly the Sanhedrin (a council of Jewish elders and religious leaders), played a crucial role in His arrest and trial. These Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy and inciting the populace, which then led to His death sentence.

Divine Will

From a theological perspective, while human agents carried out the act, it was ultimately part of God’s divine plan. This perspective is important, because it recognizes that Jesus’ death was foreordained.
God Himself developed a plan to offer salvation to humanity. This plan transcends any individual or group’s actions. As quoted earlier, Jesus said that no one takes His life from Him – He lays it down of Himself. Jesus knew people would argue about who is guilty of His death, and He made it very clear that it was His and the Father’s decision.  

Thus, in Christian theology, Jesus’ death cannot be attributed to a single cause or group. It was all of our sin that caused Yeshua’s death. Collectively, all people are responsible.
Thankfully, we know Yeshua’s ultimate sacrifice in being led to the slaughter is part of God’s redemptive plan for the world—Jewish people and the nations, both.

Yeshua: The Hebrew Name of Jesus (ישוע) – Free PDF Download

What was the name that the disciples called Jesus? Yeshua! What did it mean to them, and what does it mean to us today?

Whether you’re just finding out about Hebrew words and how they can impact your faith, or you have been referring to Jesus by His Hebrew name for decades, we’ve created the perfect guide for you.

Get this PDF

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
The post Did the Jews Kill Jesus? What Does the Bible Say? appeared first on FIRM Israel.

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