Who was responsible for Jesus’ death?

Last updated on March 8, 2024

“Pilate […] took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ And all the people answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’” (Matthew 27:24-25)

Governor Pilate had Jesus crucified, but he realized very clearly that this condemnation was unjust. To escape responsibility, he resorted to a Jewish custom. He washed his hands as a sign of innocence. Of course, this symbol was never intended that way. As a judge, Pilate was fully responsible for the sentence he pronounced.
However, the assembled crowd, which had loudly demanded that Jesus be crucified, was happy to accept responsibility. They also used a Jewish expression for this. If one was guilty of someone else’s death, they said the offender ‘had the victim’s blood on his head’. So the people took full responsibility for Jesus’ death.

Again, a terrible story. But here, too, God’s grace shines. For 50 days after Easter, many Jews were again in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. Peter told them, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36) That message hit like a bomb. Many acknowledged their guilt and repented. And they received forgiveness! Jesus’ blood no longer condemned them, but washed their hearts clean of their sins.
Do you feel guilty before God for sins you have done? How do you deal with that?

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