Who Killed Jesus?
The question I most often get asked this time of year is who killed Jesus? I usually answer…
- For sure God did. Before he even spoke the physical universe into existence he designated his Son to be the “Lamb slain before the foundations of the earth” (Revelation 13:8).
- For sure the Romans did. They were highly efficient to kill off any threat, perceived or otherwise, that would undermine their status as the world’s superpower.
- For sure the Jews did. In their eyes, Jesus was a backwoods, blaspheming, disrupter who constantly out-smarted them, stole their thunder, and mis-used the Holy Name of God.
- For sure his followers did. When Jesus was at his arrest and trial, they gave him no sustained defense or advocacy. Instead they ran away scared and confused.
- For sure Peter one of his closest friends did, denying that he even knew him, not once, twice, but three successive times.
- For sure Judas did. They say, “everyone has a price” but to sell off your beloved rabbi for a measly 30 pieces of silver? Come on man!
- For sure the demonic powers did. From the second Jesus was virginally conceived by the HS they plotted to snuff him out. It took them 33 years to get the job done but boy, they got the job done!
- For sure the Palm Sunday Praisers turned “Good Friday Hell Raisers” did. “Hosanna in Highest” one minute “Crucify him” the next, and then trading him in for a career criminal called Barabbas.
- For sure we did. He was crucified for Adam’s sinful race so anyone who has ever sinned was complicit in the killing of God on “Good Friday.”
So if you are keeping score at home that’s no less than nine distinct entities representing the larger parts of Heaven, Hell, and Earth that ultimately killed Jesus. As John Stott puts it
It’s hard enough for us to grasp, let alone to feel, how completely the verdict seemed to go against Jesus. He had been condemned in a Jewish court for blasphemy. He was then sentenced and executed for sedition by the Romans. Worse he had been hung on a tree and therefore cursed by God. After that, he was taken down from the cross and buried, which was the final touch in disposing him. The public rejection of Jesus could not have been more thorough. At every dimension he was finished: judicial, political, spiritual, and physical. Religion, Satan, law, humans, and death all conspired to wipe Jesus from the face of the earth.
The Holy Spirit Did It
But that was Friday, and how many do you know that today ain’t Friday? It’s Sunday, Easter Sunday, therefore, we ask not who killed Jesus but who resurrected Jesus? Who performed that earth shaking, hell quaking, heaven rocking, history making miracle? One, and only one, person. Paul tells us who in Romans 8:11
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
It was the HS who performed the granddaddy of all miracles by raising Jesus from the dead. Peter mentioned this marvelous move of the HS in the message he delivered on the Day of Pentecost
Acts 2:23 This [Jesus] was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
To our beloved guests I just want to pause and say we are so glad you are here celebrating with us the greatest day of the year. You caught us at a great time because for the last couple of months we have been studying the Trinity, most recently, the 3rd Person of the Trinity, the HS. We have taken great pains to clarify that He is a person, not a force or an it, and is fully God as the Father is fully God and as the Son is fully God. So as we continue that series today, we want to throw a bright hot spot light on his role in resurrecting Jesus and why that is nothing but Great News for us this morning.
The word Paul used for “raised” transliterates as “egero” which means to “raise to life, make live again.” The first person to use this word in connection with Jesus’ resurrection was an angel when he announced to Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, Mary the mother of James, Salome, and a few other woman (Matthew 28:6)
Jesus is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
Paul uses the word again in I Corinthians 6:14.
And God has both raised up the Lord,
and will raise us up from among [the dead] by his power.
And 2x in Colossians 2:12
Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
Although there is absolutely no etymological connection, I love the word egero because it sounds so much like my last name and also because that’s a whole lot of raising! And that’s the work of the HS. That’s who he is. He is the life-raising, life-granting, and life-giving Spirit.
The Death Downer
Before we get to the wonderfully great thing he can do for us I want to alert you to a grim reality. As a pastor, I don’t want to be a “Donnie Downer” but I must tell you that the latest scientific data and medical studies have conclusively demonstrated that the human mortality rate has been hovering around 100% and has been maintaining that rate as long as anyone can remember. The Bible calls death a “sting” and we all have been stung or will be stung by it. It’s not even a matter of where or what but only a matter of when. But the sole reason we are here this morning is to celebrate the incredible phenomenon that Jesus was raised by the HS precisely to defeat death. This improbability prompted Paul to rhetorically ask, in 1 Corinthians 15:55
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
How many do you know that death cannot sting us “If that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us?” “If that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us” we don’t have to fear death. “If that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us” we don’t have to dread the future. “If that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us” we don’t have to fear the afterlife. Why? Because the HS will quicken our mortal bodies, i.e., he will “egero” us just like he “egerod” Jesus. He will raise us to new life not only at the end of history but also right now with a new life, new hope, new joy, new peace, new purpose, and new love.
You great grammarians instantly recognize that a sentence containing an “IF” instantly indicates a conditional clause. “IF that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you” all of this raising and resurrecting is ours to experience now and forevermore. How do we get the HS in us and turn that conditional clause into an experiential reality? Simply give your life to the One called (Revelation 22:13),
The Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
The one who was once dead but is alive forevermore.