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“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:17-18).
Nobody takes Jesus’ life from him. He’s the King of the universe. He had all the frailty of man, but if he so wished, he could have called legions of angels to his command. He could have hopped down off that cross, as the onlookers taunted him to do. When Satan tempted him in the desert to show his power in a way that might save him from the will of his Father, Jesus could have done those things. At any point, he could have said, “You know what? Forget this,” and taken up a sword and laid waste to all who opposed him. He had that power.
But he choose to lay down his life. Nobody took it from him.
This is important today because of a division and hurtful argument that some boneheaded Christians have made. It has to do with that perennial question reignited in the wake of The Passion film: “Who killed Jesus?” Was it the Jews or the Romans?
Focusing on the Jewish role in the political collusion to kill Jesus has led to an insidious anti-Semitism in some corners of the church. The Gospel don’t seem to help, really, because they depict Jews as thirsty for Jesus’ blood and the Romans officials acting as if their hands are tied. This is historically accurate because, when confronted with no evidence that Jesus really meant to physically overthrow the government, Herod and Pilate saw no cause to execute him, even though the Jewish religious leaders and their followers continued to beg for his murder. But the Jews had no authority to execute anyone, so in the end, the Roman government is guilty of actually murdering Jesus.
Regardless of the apparent players in the drama, we have to remind ourselves that nobody took Jesus’ life. He gave it of his own free will. Nobody took anything from him that he wasn’t willing to give. So focusing on who killed Jesus is the wrong question and winds up with beside-the-point answers. The answer to the question of who killed Jesus is found in three truths about his death: (1) Jesus himself said that he gave his life willingly; (2) Jesus forgave his executioners while he was on the cross; (3) the guilt Jesus took to the cross belongs to everyone.
The great power of the betrayal and execution of Jesus is that he went into it with his eyes wide open, with his heart ready to endure the agony submissively, willingly – like a lamb led to the slaughter. Do you remember what he said in the garden of Gethsemane on the eve of his crucifixion? “Father… not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). That’s Jesus saying, “I know what lies ahead, and I’m up for it.”
Jared C. Wilson
Author of Your Jesus is Too Safe: Outgrowing a Drive-Thru, Feel-Good Saviour
(Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, 2009) page 200-202
Get this free book by CLICKING HERE.
So you see, Jesus was willing to die for you and me.
No other God would do such thing like that.
Jesus love you.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.