Who Killed Jesus?
The apostle Peter answers an objection that probably was in the minds of his listeners because this same objection has been raised since. If Jesus was the Messiah, why was He a victim? Why did He not use His power to avoid the cross? Peter said, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:22-24). Peter is crystal clear, Jesus was not a victim but was delivered up by the “predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”
The two words “predetermined plan” indicates that Jesus Christ was delivered to death because God planned and ordained it. Note carefully Luke’s statement: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur” (Acts 4:27-28). Paul said this “predetermined plan” was from all eternity (2 Tim. 1:9). Peter also said that Jesus and His death was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” (I Peter 1:18-20).
While God’s eternal purpose was to give His only begotten Son (John 3:16) for sinful men He used evil and godless people to accomplish His purpose and yet never violated their will or removed their culpability by doing so. Speaking of His betrayer our Lord said, “For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” (Luke 22:22). Judas was guilty of betraying Jesus. The Jewish leaders were culpable. They plotted, concocted false charges against Him, and blackmailed the Roman governor Pontius Pilate into setting aside justice to appease an angry crowd. The Jewish people constituting the crazed mob calling for His crucifixion were guilty. The Roman soldiers were culpable for persecuting Jesus and then executing an innocent man.
However, the death of Jesus was an act of His submission to His Father’s will. Jesus was in full control. He said, “I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:17-18). When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane we read, “So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and *said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He *said to them, “I am He” (John 18:4). On the cross Jesus surrendered His life at the precise moment He chose to die. When He said “It is finished” (John 19:30) this was not a victim crying out but the proclamation of a victor, a shout of triumph. His mission had been completed according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.
From Walking in Truth
“Daily Devotionals by Guy Roberson”
From Expository Files 22.9; September 2015