Was Jesus "killed"?
"Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God
among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst
of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate
counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have
crucified and slain" (Acts 2:22,23).
It is surely true that Jesus was "murdered" by wicked men
(Acts 2:23 says exactly that). But it is also true that he was "delivered" or
"turned over" to their hands by God, and that this was no whim, no passing
fancy: it was, rather, the "determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" -- or,
as the NIV, "His set purpose and foreknowledge" -- that led to this death. All
the sacrifices of the Law of Moses, and many of the events of the Old Testament,
were enacted parables, and prophecies, of the One who -- when he came -- would
be the perfect sacrifice for sins. It was in God's purpose from the very
beginning that His only-begotten Son, whom He loved more than anything, must die
in a certain way.
All of Jesus' life was a "sacrifice", an ongoing "crucifixion"
of the flesh with its lusts, a putting to death of the "old man" (which was in
him, as it is in us), and a doing of his Father's will rather than his
But it was not enough until he sealed the covenant in his own
blood, by dying the death of the cross, freely and willingly laying down his
life -- the last act of a perfectly obedient life.
Was his death a crime? Yes, from the perspective of those who
arrested him, and led him to trial, and condemned him, and drove the nails into
his hands and feet.
But, from another perspective, it was God -- who so loved the
world -- "giving" His only-begotten Son as the perfect example of how to live,
and the perfect sacrifice, once and for all men and for all time.
And, may I suggest, here's an aspect that we don't perhaps
think of as much as we might: there was, in the Father's will, a merciful aspect
in the crucifixion of Jesus:
Here was a man carrying the enormous burden of absolute
sinlessness; never, in his 33 or so years, had he succumbed to the temptations
and weaknesses of the flesh, which he possessed along with the rest of us. He
had lived a life of absolute dedication to the Father's will, but it was not
easy, and it would never become easy, so long as he lived in a frail body of
flesh and blood. So the man who had reached the age of 33, without sinning, was
-- in his death, brutal and painful though it was -- being in fact liberated
from the last "burden" he carried, the last hindrance to serving God. He was, in
the words of Scripture, passing through the "veil", the last "barrier" that
separated him from the Eternal God. Seen from that perspective, his death on the
cross was not a punishment -- it was a "liberation"! It was "graduation day"! It
was, praise God, the most merciful end that could be contrived (given God's
requirements) to a perfect life. The One who had struggled mightily, and
resisted every impulse to sin (even though he was greatly helped by his Father),
would not have to carry that same heavy burden for another 50 or 60 years, until
he expired of old age -- God was saying to His Son, "Enough. You may now take
God "killing" His Son? No! More like God saying to His Son:
"It is enough. I am well-pleased. You can do no more. Come, sit down beside