Who is ultimately responsible for the death of Jesus Christ? The answer may surprise you. According to the Bible, God takes responsibility for the death of his Son. This is the first part of Isaiah 53:10 in the New International Version: “Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.” The New King James gives that phrase a slightly different feel: “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.” Both versions say the same thing, but the NKJV emphasizes that it pleased the Lord to “crush” his only Son. The terrible suffering our Lord endured did not happen by chance nor did it happen solely because the Jewish leaders wanted it and Pilate cravenly caved in. Behind the evil deeds of evil men stands the Lord God Almighty. He and he alone sent Jesus to the cross. Until you understand that fact, the true meaning of the death of Christ will be lost to you.

Why did Jesus die? Listen to the answer provided by John Piper:

The most important question of the 21st century is: Why did Jesus Christ suffer so much? But we will never see the importance if we fail to go beyond human cause. The ultimate answer to the question, Who crucified Jesus? Is: God did! It is a staggering thought. And the suffering was unsurpassed. But the whole message of the Bible leads to that conclusion.

Just ponder these words: “Who crucified Jesus? God did!” The exclamation point drives the point home. No one would have expected God to put his only Son on the cross. But that’s exactly what happened. The events of Good Friday will make no sense until you grasp that great truth.

That’s why Jesus could truthfully take responsibility for his own death: “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 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. This command I received from my Father” (John 10:17-18). No one “killed” Jesus against his will. If God had not willed for his Son to die, and if Jesus had not willingly laid down his life, all the armies of Rome could not have killed him. We can bring these truths together in three simple statements:

The Father planned it.
The Son embraced it.
Evil men perpetrated it.

Herod and Pilate (and everyone else involved) were unwitting actors in the great drama of redemption. They were truly guilty for their sins, but through their evil salvation has come to the world. What is the greatest sin in the world? Surely the answer must be: Crucifying the Son of God. Yet here is a mystery and a paradox that becomes a miracle: From the greatest sin has come the greatest blessing for the whole human race. The bloody death of Jesus opened the door of heaven for anyone who wishes to enter.

We are amazed, Father, that you could use the evil deeds of evil men to bring salvation to the world. Thank you for the overruling providence that accomplishes your will even when all seems lost. Amen.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.