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Who Killed Jesus? 4/9/2017

Who Killed Jesus? 



That master detective, Sherlock Holmes, was sitting on his chair beside the fireplace calmly reading a book when suddenly, his good partner, Dr. Watson came in.

Sherlock Holmes looked at his friend and smiled, saying, "Why, Dr. Watson, don't you think the weather is a bit hot for you to be wearing your red flannel underwear?"

Dr. Watson was shocked by this incredible and wonderful logic. "My good man," he gasped, "How did you know I was wearing my red flannel underwear?"

Holmes smiled wider and put down his book. He explained, "Elementary, my dear Watson. You forgot to put your pants on."


Perhaps the most famous detective of all time is Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and made his literary debut in 1887 in ‘A study of Scarlet’.

Holmes was known for observation, forensic science, and fantastic logical reasoning.

Sherlock Holmes is the most portrayed movie character in history.’

The character of Sherlock Holmes was inspired by a man named Joseph Bell who was a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

As Holmes’ popularity surged, Doyle wanted to devote more time to his historical novels and so in 1893 he killed off Holmes in a final battle with Professor James Moriarity.

Finally giving in to public pressure, Doyle wrote ‘The Adventure of an Empty House’ set in 1894 but published in 1903. Holmes reappears to a stunned Watson and explains that his death was faked in order to fool his enemies.

Well Sherlock Holmes eventually retires to a small farm on the Sussex Downs where he becomes a beekeeper. He does come out of retirement to aid the war effort and takes on one more case in ‘The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane.’

Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it ["A Study in Scarlet"] with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story .... Some facts should be suppressed, or, at least, a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them. The only point in the case which deserved mention was the curious analytical reasoning from effects to causes, by which I succeeded in unravelling it.[19]

— Sherlock Holmes on John Watson's "pamphlet", The Sign of the Four

Today we are going to learn from Sherlock Holmes when we consider Jesus’ death on the cross.


Read Mark 15:21-32


Who Killed Jesus?

I. The Jews Did

  • From the Middle Ages on Jewish people have suffered and been labeled Christ Killers.
  • During the first Crusade in 1096, thousands of Jews in France and Germany were killed, this was known as the Rhineland Massacres.
  • In 1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella attempted to expel all Jews from Spain. They were given a simple choice, leave Spain, convert to Catholicism or die.
  • And of course during the Holocaust Hitler had millions of Jews killed, and he justified his actions in part by saying that they were Christ Killers.
  • However the truth is that multitudes of Jews followed Jesus, including the 12 disciples. It was a very small group of religious leaders who plotted to kill Jesus.
  • Matt 26:3-4 “At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, 4 plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him.”
  • Caiphas was the Jewish High Priest when Jesus was crucified, but he was really just a puppet for his father in law Annas. Annas was really the kingpin of the religious mafia.
  • Sherlock Holmes always looked for 3 things : Motive, Means, and Opportunity.
  • The Jewish religious leaders had all 3. Their motive was to hang on to their power and way of life. Jesus had openly called them ‘a brood of vipers, and whitewashed tombs.’ He said they were the blind leading the blind.
  • They determined that He had to be silenced.
  • Jesus was a threat to their wealth and status. He was  a threat to their cozy way of life.
  • So they had the motive.
  • Means: Well they could have stoned Jesus, they’d tried that before, but the people were split on Jesus, some loved Him and some didn’t. Their best strategy was to have the Romans do it. Which they did.
  • Opportunity: The Passover festival was perfect, the Roman Governor Pilate was in town. And so based on motive, means, and opportunity they could be considered leading suspects.
  • But there were other fingerprints at the cross.

II. The Romans Did

  • The Roman soldiers actually executed Jesus. Now they didn’t have much choice, Pilate had ordered them to do so.
  • Motive: Now Pilate knew that he was a scapegoat for the Jewish leaders. He knew Jesus was innocent, but in order to maintain peace in the area, he gave in and had Jesus crucified.
  • It’s important to understand that the Romans didn’t give two hoots about Israel or Jerusalem. It was an unimportant part of their empire. The only reason they cared was that there were two roads that linked Africa and it’s riches with Europe that ran through Israel. But the Jews, even though they were small in number were known to be rabble rousers. So Pilate’s main job according to Rome was to keep them quiet.
  • John 19:16-18 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
  • Isn’t it interesting that none of the Gospels goes into any detail at all about crucifixion. What actually happened? They all just simply say that He was crucified.
  • Why? In the time that the NT was written everybody had witnessed hundreds if not thousands of crucifixions. The word alone would make a person wince.
  • We’ve never seen one firsthand. It would be like me telling you that I saw an 18 wheeler hit a person on a motorcycle, where the cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet. You’d get it, I wouldn’t have to go into detail.
  • So with crucifixion we don’t get info from the Bible, we get it from secular sources. 300 years before Jesus was crucified Alexander the Great had 2,000 citizens of Tyre crucified.
  • Most of the time they hung them on trees rather than crosses. It was terrible, the person would linger there for days.
  • When the Roman General Titus was besieging Jerusalem in 70 ad, Josephus wrote that he had about 500 Jews crucified every day for weeks on end.
  • He wrote that “there was not enough room for the crosses and not enough crosses for the bodies.”
  • So the Romans had the motive and the means.
  • The Romans also beheaded people. They thought that was much more civil. Can you imagine.
  • The Roman Historian Seneca said this about crucifixion ““Can anyone be found who would prefer wasting away in pain dying limb by limb, or letting out his life drop by drop, rather than expiring once for all? Can any man be found willing to be fastened to the accursed tree, long sickly, already deformed, swelling with ugly wounds on shoulders and chest, and drawing out the breath of life amid long drawn-out agony?” (Seneca, Dialogue 3:2.2.).
  • So they are some pretty good suspects. But there are some others as well. In fact, look at your own index finger.

III.  I Did

  • Jesus came to earth so that He could die for our sins and we could receive forgiveness. If there were no sin, there’d have been no cross.
  • In the Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson depicts Jesus laying down on the cross with His arms spread out. Then you see a hand enter the frame holding onto a long nail and a hammer. Then the hand starts pounding that nail into Jesus’s flesh.
  • Gibson said that was his way of saying that we are the ones who sent Jesus to the cross.
  • But you know what, I’m a messed up guy! That’s why Jesus died.
  • Notice the pronouns in this verse, they are plural but they could be singular as well. “But He was pierced for our (my) transgression, he was crushed for our (my) iniquities; the punishment that brought us (me) peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are (I am) healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way ( I have);  and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. ( All of my iniquity )
  • There’s an old spiritual that says “Were you there when they crucified my Lord. Were you there when they crucified my Lord. Oh, oh..sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
  • The answer is yes, I was there and I was on His heart and mind and so were you.
  • Rembrandt was a deeply committed Christian. One of his most famous paintings was “The Elevation of the Cross.” It pictures the moment when the cross was being raised.
  • You can see the hate and rage of the other men, but Rembrandt painted himself into the picture, in his beret. It was his way of saying we all had a part to play in the crucifixion.
  • John Stott said this ““Before we can begin to see the cross as something done FOR us…we have to see it as something done BY us. Indeed, only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross…may claim his share in its grace.” (The Cross of Christ)
  • Who crucified Jesus? Well the Jewish leaders, the Roman government and me. But sometimes there is a surprising suspect.

IV. God Allowed It

  • God offered His Son as a sacrifice for sin.
  • 700 years before the cross, Isaiah described the death of the Messiah, the Jews were looking for a military leader but if they’d just listened to their own Scripture they’d have seen that the Messiah was to be a suffering servant.
  • Isaiah 53:10 “But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
  •     and cause him grief.
  • Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
  •     he will have many descendants.
  • He will enjoy a long life,
  •     and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.”
  • You may be asking why? Why would God send His Son to die for us? For me?
  • The answer is love. You’ve heard of a crime of passion, the cross was a place of passion. But not mine, it was His passion who sent His Son. He loves us that much.
  • So Who did it? Was it the Jewish leaders? Well they left fingerprints at the cross. Was it the Romans? They’ve got some there too. Was it me? Was it God?
  • Well we have to close the case because in Sherlock Holmes novels, when you ask yourself who killed Jesus the answer is nobody because He’s alive today.
  •  You can’t have a murder trial if the victim is alive!
  • On the day of Pentecost Peter spoke these words in Jerusalem:
  • Acts 2:23-24 “But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.”
  • I heard this parable, there was a man who worked as a manual operator of a railroad drawbridge over a large river. Whenever a ship would pass he would raise the drawbridge by activating these huge hydraulic gears. When the ship passed He’d lower the drawbridge with the same gears. One day his son came to work with him. He had raised the bridge so a ship could pass but he lost sight of his son. His son had wondered over to an opening to look down at the massive gears and lost his footing and fell in. Just as the man moved to rescue his son he heard the whistle of a train. He knew the train was full of people and if he didn’t lower the bridge the train and all of its passengers would careen off into the river. The train couldn’t stop so he had an agonizing decision to make. If he rescued his son, many people would die, but if he lowered the bridge his son would be crushed in the massive gears. With a broken heart and tears filling his eyes he advanced the lever to lower the bridge. The bridge returned to level and the train passed by not knowing the sacrifice that had been made for them to live.
  • But that story still falls far short of the cross. First the operator didn’t make his decision based on love. He didn’t want to do it and he hated the decision.
  • God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son.
  • Second, the cross wasn’t a sudden decision. He wasn’t suddenly faced with the dilemma of my son or the world.
  • Rev 13:8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
  • The cross wasn’t an afterthought it was in the heart and mind of God from the beginning of the beginning.
  • Finally, the reason God could allow His Son to die on the cross is that He knew death could not hold Him!


Who killed Jesus? Hey, close the investigation. There’s not a body available for autopsy.

As the song goes, “Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior! Waiting the coming day, Jesus, my Lord! Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saint’s to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose.!” (Robert Lowry, 1874)