Who Is to Blame for Jesus' Death?

"No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father" (John 10:18). The love of God is solely responsible for the death of Jesus — and His resurrection, so that we may be saved!

Danielle Bernock
Who Is to Blame for Jesus' Death?

Jesus of Nazareth, also known as the Christ, was crucified. According to research, His death took place on Friday, April 3, AD 33 when Israel was occupied and oppressed by Rome. Before His death, Jesus had 12 men who were His disciples, and they traveled around the country preaching and teaching about the Kingdom of God.

And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him (Acts 10:38).

Jesus was doing good, so why was He crucified and who is responsible for His death?

Some Blame Judas

Judas Iscariot has long been blamed for the death of Jesus. We know from the scriptures that he sought out to betray Jesus. It was Judas who led the soldiers to arrest Jesus, betraying Him with a kiss.

Then one of the Twelve — the one called Judas Iscariot — went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over (Matthew 26:14-16).

Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him (Matthew 26:47-50).

Judas may have been responsible for Jesus’ arrest, but not for His death.

Some Blame the Jews

Many Jewish people have been persecuted and even killed for being, as some called them, the “Christ-killer.” What led people to believe that an entire people group was responsible for the death of Jesus?

Perhaps it was taken from Matthew 27:1-2, 20, and 22-25,

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

Or it might be taken from the nonchalant way Paul put it in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15,

For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone. 

Many Jewish people played a role in what led to the death of Jesus. But many is not every. 

  • The disciples were Jewish and 11 of them played no role. 
  • Mary and the other women who followed Jesus were Jewish and they too played no role. 
  • And then there is Joseph of Arimathea, who was one of the Jewish religious leaders who did not consent to Jesus’ death.

The Jews are not responsible or to blame for the death of Jesus.

Some Blame the Religious Leaders

It’s true that the religious leaders felt threatened by Jesus. This is because they had power over their people and the privileges they’d acquired from the Roman government. 

  • If the people followed Jesus, they’d lose their power over them. 
  • If they lost their power over the people, they’d lose their privileges from the government.

They had clear motives even though murder was against the law of Moses.

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death (Matthew 26:59).

The chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him (Mark 14:1).

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered (Matthew 26:65-66).

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor (Matthew 27:1-2).

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed (Matthew 27:20).

There were religious leaders pushing for Jesus to be killed, but not all of them. Remember Joseph of Arimathea.

Many religious leaders played a role, but they’re not responsible for the death of Jesus.

Some Blame Caiaphas

Because we can’t blame the whole group of religious leaders some look at their leader —Caiaphas — the high priest. 

Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled (Matthew 26:57).

Caiaphas was not only a religious leader, but also had power regarding civil laws. However, his power was allowed only at the discretion of the Romans who ruled over him. Due to that oversight, Caiaphas had no power to put Jesus to death and had to take him to the Roman ruler.

Due to Roman oversight, Caiaphas was not responsible for the death of Jesus.

Some Blame the Romans

Some find it logical to blame the Romans for Jesus’ death because of how He was killed. Crucifixion was imposed by the Roman government.

Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die (John 18:31-32).

Again, here we have the whole people group thing.

The Roman government was responsible for the way Jesus died, but not His death.

Some Blame Pilate

Pilate must be responsible due to the power he held, right? 

“Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” (John 19:9-10).

Pilate made the decree for Jesus to be crucified, but he is not responsible for His death. 

Who Is Really to Blame?

The death of Jesus was strategically planned by one. When they came to arrest Jesus, He said:

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:53-55).

When Pilate threatened Jesus, He answered, You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above (John 19:11).

Before it happened, Jesus said how He was going to die.

“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father" (John 10:18). 

When Jesus died, He did what He said — gave up His life, yielded His spirit, sent His spirit forth (Matthew 27:50). 

The death of Jesus was an elaborate plan made by God Himself.

None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8).

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). 

The love of God is solely responsible for the death of Jesus — and His resurrection, so that we may be saved!

©iStock/Getty Images Plus/ronniechua


Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author, coach, and speaker who helps people embrace their value and heal their souls through the power of the love of God. She’s written Emerging With Wings, A Bird Named PaynLove’s ManifestoBecause You Matter, and hosts the Victorious Souls Podcast. A long-time follower of Christ, Danielle lives with her husband in Michigan near her adult children and grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/


Originally published February 21, 2020.