“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. …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.” (John 10: 14-15, 18)
Who killed Jesus?
It seems like a simple enough question and answer, right? Anyone who’s read through any one of the gospels might say, “Well, Pontius Pilate did. He gave the order to have Jesus crucified.” And that answer isn’t wrong. But it’s not the best answer. Some people might remember what they read earlier in the Gospel of John: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him,” and say, “Well really it was the Jewish leaders. Pontius didn’t really want to crucify Jesus, but the Jewish leaders pushed him to do it.” And that answer isn’t wrong. But it’s not the best answer.
People who really know the depth of their own sin, and who understand what Jesus did for them on the cross might say, “It was me. I crucified Jesus.” As the song goes, “It was my sin that held him there until it was accomplished.“ And that answer isn’t wrong. In fact, it’s almost the best answer.
But not quite.
In John 10, Jesus is explaining the depth of his love for his followers—his sheep. He says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. …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” (vv. 14-15, 18).
This makes perfect sense if we just take a moment to connect the dots: Jesus is the God who spoke galaxies into existence, set the earth spinning on its axis, invented life and designed the tree from which his own cross was made. So… let’s try this again. Who killed Jesus? Who killed the architect of the universe and the Commander In Chief of the Armies of the innumerable angel warriors of Heaven?
Who killed Jesus? God did. That’s the best answer.
Jesus chose the cross. He chose this path. He chose death. He chose his death because he’s the only one who could choose it. He’s the only one who has “authority to lay his life down” and “authority to take it up again.” No one can take his life from him. I mean, how do you take life from the designer and giver of life? You don’t. No one can.
So why did he choose to give it up? Why did he lay his life down?
We have to start with the answer we gave to the question in yesterday’s post: He chose death first and foremostly for the glory and fame of God. This is the highest design of the death of Christ: God’s fame.
But, of course, there is another answer. Even though we are very, very small, he loves us so very deeply. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Oh, how he loves us. No man has greater love than this: That he lays down his life for his friends.