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59 Who Killed Jesus Part 1

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Join us for a quick overview of some of the more popular atonement theories (understandings as to why Jesus had to die) and then we begin to look carefully at scripture to understand who killed Jesus.

59 History of atonement ideas
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59 Scriptures which address the death of
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Some New Testament Scriptures which address the death of Jesus Christ.

I began with the list John Stott gives in “The Cross of Christ.” Some points to notice as we read these scriptures.

  1. It is important to separate a moral sacrifice from a legal sacrifice or judicial punishment or criminal penalty. A moral sacrifice appeals to the better nature of a person. It does require a law to be recognized or valued. Donating a kidney or a lung is an example. This satisfies the intrinsic law to be kind to others. A legal sacrifice, on the other hand, is based on extrinsic or imposed law. The law must be codified or written down somewhere and must also be enforced. Animal sacrifices for sin are an example. A fine or a jail term is the result if the perpetrator is found guilty of transgressing a law. There is no law that we know of that specified that God had to die to save sinners. It has been extrapolated from feudal and other imposed laws, but it is nowhere stated in scripture. What is stated is the consequence of sin being death (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23). A parallel warning is “change the oil in the engine or it will fail.” The engine does not fail because of this warning but because of the effect of friction. No imposed law is involved. It is a consequence of the nature of a mechanical reality.

  2. Another paradigm to consider is the difference between God’s perspective and our human perspective. We often assume there is only one perspective, but God has a pure heart and so his perspective is different to our perspective derived from selfish hearts. When we place our perspective on God, we insult God and end up with wrong conclusions. The woman taken in adultery (John 8) who was used in an attempt to trap Jesus was the result of human perspective. The leaders could not see an escape for Jesus, but his restorative heart had a different perspective which created an unexpected outcome which inspired her heart and inspires out hearts today.

  3. The Bible writers often assume that prediction means causation. I can predict that all my friends will be dead within 100 years, but this does not mean I killed them. Astronomers predict eclipses but do not cause them. Isaiah predicted that the ears of the people would not hear, and their eyes could not see that Jesus was the Messiah and he claims that it was God who caused the deafness and blindness.

  4. The book of Acts is certain that people, not God, killed Jesus (Acts 2:23, 36; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:28). Finally, as part of this introduction a quote from William Barclay. To put it generally, there are two views of the Cross, one objective and one subjective, or one that thinks of the Cross as doing something to God, and the other that thinks of the Cross as doing something to man. The first view of the Cross is just this - that on the Cross Jesus bore the agony, the pains and the penalty that we should have borne. The idea is that we were under the condemnation of God, and God was going to eliminate us, when Jesus came to God and said, “Let me bear it for them.” Jesus is our substitute, bearing the punishment we should have borne. Brought up in that view, very early, while still a boy, I began to feel there was something quite desperately wrong with it. I thought there were two things wrong. First this, that it implies or actually says that something Jesus did changed the attitude of God, that God=s hand was poised to strike, his condemnation poised to obliterate, and Jesus came and begged us off as it were, by taking it upon himself. Somehow or other Jesus changed a wrathful, angry God into a gentle God. I could always understand, even then, the sayings of the little girl, “Mummy, I love Jesus, but I hate God.” And when I went to the New Testament and I could find no evidence for this at all, for the New Testament has nothing but God=s

love – “God so loved the world that he sent his Son.” In Jesus God proves his love, that while we were yet his enemies, Christ died for us. The whole thing is inside the love of God. I saw this; I could not help seeing it. Jesus did not change the attitude of God; Jesus shows what the attitude of God is like. And then there was something else which came to me. It was supposed to be for the sake of his justice that God punished Jesus - to satisfy God’s justice someone had to take the punishment, and that someone was Jesus. It came to me while I was still young that this means that in order to satisfy his justice, God had to do the un-just-est thing this world has ever seen; that in order to satisfy his holy justice he punished the only perfectly good man there ever was, his own beloved Son. I began to feel that I could not believe in a God like that or trust a God who did such a thing. For a while I was out of Christianity altogether, completely. I began to think again, and I came to that thing which always in my mind—that in Jesus we see perfectly displayed the mind of God. This is God—in these last days, in that last week—this is God from beginning to end, saying AI love you like that; you can batter me, you can bruise me, you can forsake me, you can crown me with thorns, you can treat me with injustice, you can scourge me—I love you, nothing will stop me from loving you. “ And this is why, in the end, Jesus had to die—because if Jesus had not died it would have meant that at some point the love of God said, AThus far and not further. Stop, I cannot love you anymore.” William Barclay, Discovering Jesus [Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000] pp.55-57.

1. Christ died for us.

(A sacrifice is a self-loss for the benefit of another. Giving up my place on a lifeboat or giving up my parachute to another is an impressive example of a moral sacrifice. This does not mean that the recipient is forced to live a virtuous life in gratitude.) John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” (Desmond Doss) Luke 22:19 " (Also 1 Cor. 11:24). [Jesus is giving his body. It is not being taken from him as in the death penalty.] Romans 5:8 "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” sinners." Ephesians 5:2 “ 1 Thessalonians 5:10 “ ” Titus 2:14 " 1 Peter 3:18 " ." (There was no obligation for Christ to do so.) ." (The results are evident already in clean living!) " (His life of Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God with him forever Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. suffering culminated in being tortured, abused and executed.) The purpose of his life was a moral sacrifice to redeem us from our selfish, sinful ways. His life, death and resurrection was not a penalty for our wrongdoing but the consequence of our wickedness. Christ’s death is a moral influence in our lives but it is more than a moral influence. It affects the universe’s picture of God, it triumphs over death, it defeats the devil.

2. Christ’s death results in our reconciliation with God.

(God already loved us. We were alienated illustrated by Adam and Eve’s response in Eden.) John 3:14-16 " And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. 16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

Romans 5:10 " Ephesians 1:7 " " (We were alienated from God.) For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son " (We were slaves in our thinking, like the prodigal son. His blood parallels the robe, the ring, the sandals & the fatted calf. Roger Bannister bought us all the faith that man could run a sub four-minute mile.) and forgave our sins. Ephesians 2:16 " groups.) Colossians 1:20 " 1 Thessalonians 5:10 " " ” (Christ’s death united alienated people " Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. 1 Peter 3:18 " bring us to God. God was already with us. He was not angry with us; we were angry with him.) Christ’s sacrifice results in unity between hostile man and the loving God, between genders, between all classes, between all races and all languages and ethnic groups because we are now all close to God and so to each other.

3. Christ died as result of our sins

(One of our sins is that we violently murdered him.) 1 Peter 3:18 " " 1 Corinthians 15:3 " " (Isaiah 53:1-12.) Galatians 1:4 “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” Ephesians 1:7 " " Hebrews 9:26 "He has appeared and for all at the climax of history to abolish sin by the sacrifice of Himself." Hebrews 9:28 " " Hebrews 10:12 " 1 Peter 3:18 " 1 John 1:7 " " Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. " (Jesus died to Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. and forgave our sins. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. " dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. [Most important person to rise from the dead.] When Jesus says take up your cross and follow me what does he mean? Is it another metaphor for take up your yoke or does “cross” mean that our death is now to be expected? The only purpose of a cross was a shameful death. I think in the past I have always interpreted the cross we must carry to be some sacrifice or inconvenience or discipline. I did not see the import of it as being a cross which means death! These are scary thoughts. 24 November 2019. Ian. Apparently, we have to die in order to be resurrected with Revelation 1:5-6 "and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. 6 He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen." "

Christ into this new humanity. This is a scary choice we can make.

4. Christ died the second death so we can live forever.

(The death from which there is no return, which is the consequence of personal rebellion. The first death is the consequence of Adam’s sin.) John 3:14 "The Son of man must be lifted up as the serpent was lifted up by Moses in the wilderness, so that everyone that has faith in Him (in his corporate death) may not die but have eternal life." Romans 5:6 "Christ died for the wicked." (Includes all of us.) Romans 5:18-19 “Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one-person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one-person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.” Romans 6:5-9 " Revelation 21:8 "But as for the cowardly, the faithless and the vile, murders, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters and liars of every kind, their lot will be the second death..." Jesus Christ was connected with God and thus was not subject to death. His death defeated Satan as the Prince of this World. By his resurrection he also overcame the second death for us by absorbing our rebellion into himself.

What Jesus said about the importance of his death.

Christmas celebrates his birth, Easter his resurrection and Communion his death. 1. My death is central (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:14-23; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25) The "only commemorative act authorized by" Jesus, that is the communion service, "dramatizes neither His birth nor His life, neither His words nor His works, but only His death.” 2. The purpose of my death (Matthew 26:27-28; Luke 22:20; Romans 11:25-36; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 2 Corinthians 3:6-18; Hebrews 8:8-9:28) Jesus saw the purpose of His death as establishing the new covenant, spoken of seven centuries before in Jeremiah 31:31-34. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." 3. You need to personally appropriate, accept for yourself, my death as part of “my life and teaching?” "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you (John 6:53)."


God did not require the death of his Son, but he knew it would result from coming to love and serve us. The death of Christ was necessitated by our wickedness. The consequences (wages) of sin is death for all life on the planet including trees, animals, and babies who have not sinned. When God came to live with us so he could adopt us into his family sin resulted in his death too. God triumphed over death because his love is stronger than selfishness or sin. Now we believe he can deliver us from spiritual, emotional, and physical death. We are alive in him, because of him, together with him and so we sing hymns to him. God had always planned that Jesus would come and adopt us into the family. This plan was not because of Since we have been united with him in his death (baptism), we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.

sin but in spite of sin. Read about it in Ephesians 1:3-6. God’s Perspective: God did not need Jesus to die in order to forgive our sins. He was doing so before Jesus died. God suffered when he forgave our sin as anyone suffers when you forgive another. You suffer material loss if its arson or theft, you suffer emotional loss if its betrayal, and you wonder if it will happen again. Man’s Perspective: Jesus had to die. He was an embarrassment to us in many ways. For instance, he had no prejudice against Gentiles, women, tax collectors, Samaritans, prostitutes, lepers, and Romans.

Major Atonement Theories: Ransom, Satisfaction, Penal-Substitution and Other

2:23, 36; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:28). 1. The Book of Act’s view of the Atonement Jesus came and loved and served us in every possible way and we murdered or executed him (Acts 2. Ransom Theory of Atonement (40—1000 CE) Adam and Eve sold humanity over to the Devil at the time of the Fall; hence, it required that God pay the Devil a ransom to free us from the Devil's clutches. God, however, tricked the Devil into accepting Christ's death as a ransom, for the Devil did not realize that Christ could not be held in the bonds of death. Once the Devil accepted Christ's death as a ransom, this theory concluded, justice was satisfied and God was able to free us from Satan's grip. Gustaf Aulén, (1879—1977 CE) has suggested that the meaning of the Ransom Theory should not be taken in terms of a business transaction (who receives payment), but rather as the emancipation of human beings from the bondage of sin and death. Aulén's book, Christus Victor, maintained that the Early Church view had been mischaracterized, and proposed a re-evaluated Ransom Theory as a superior alternative to Satisfaction Theory. This view he calls the "classic" idea of the atonement. 3. Satisfaction Theory of Atonement

(1000—1500 CE) Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033/4–1109 CE). Human sin is defrauding God of the honour he is due. Christ's death, the ultimate act of obedience, gives God great honour. This theory means that Jesus Christ suffered crucifixion as a substitute for human sin, satisfying God's just wrath against humankind's transgression due to Christ's infinite merit. The theory has been traditionally taught in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed traditions of Western Christianity. Theologically and historically, the word "satisfaction" does not mean gratification as in common usage, but rather "to make restitution": mending what has been broken, or paying back what was taken. Since one of God's characteristics is justice, affronts to that justice must be atoned for. It is thus connected with the legal concept of balancing out an injustice. Moral Influence Theory of Atonement.

(1100 CE) Formulated by Peter Abelard (1079-1142) partially in reaction against Anselm’s Satisfaction theory. In this view, the purpose and result of Christ's death was to influence mankind toward moral improvement. This theory denies that Christ died to satisfy any principle of divine justice, but teaches instead that His death was designed to greatly impress mankind with a sense of God's love, resulting in softening their hearts and leading them to repentance. Thus, the Atonement is not directed towards God with the purpose of maintaining His justice, but towards man with the purpose of persuading him to right action. 4. Penal-Substitution Theory of Atonement (1500—2000 CE) Penal substitutionary atonement refers to the doctrine that Christ died on the cross as a legal substitute for sinners. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard. This theory of the atonement was formulated by the 16th century Reformers as an extension of Anselm's Satisfaction theory. 5. Other Theories of Atonement (2010 CE) Incarnational Atonement Theory (Robin Collins): Collins says that by sharing in human life situations God's self ceases to be alien from our selves, making it possible for our selves to be united with God's self, which in turn saves us from sin. Other theologians through the ages have held similar views, and he argues that this theory is superior to others on philosophical, ethical, theological, and scriptural grounds. Revealing the Heart of God (Ian Hartley). The implication in the temptation in Eden was that God was withholding greater benefit or happiness from Adam and Even. For God to show that this was not true meant he had to show that he is love or unselfishness in his very being. This was difficult for one who could create anything he wanted. Only at the Cross, where God in human form shrank from death, could

we decide if God was actually unselfish. Would God prefer us to his own life? It is the question all our classic love stories have asked. Would you rather die than lose me? God emerged at the Cross as the greatest lover in the universe. He preferred death to losing us. We had our wicked way with God by killing him but he emerged from the tomb triumphant over all the accusations of being selfish. “Let him come down and save himself!” was demonstrated to be true. He could have come down and saved himself but he stayed and died so that we would be saved from our deathly selfishness.

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