Who Caused Christ’s Crucifixion?
Examining Easter – Part 1
April 2, 2023
A. Introduction: Two-week series entitled, Examining Easter.
Today is Palm Sunday; message title is a question: Who caused Christ’s
Theme verse: Mark 15:24 (NLT)— Then the soldiers nailed Him to the cross. …
- Palm Sunday reminds us of the Sunday almost 2000 years ago when Jesus
entered the city of Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey, as the people
cheered and waved palm branches, at the beginning of Passover Week.
They praised God for sending the long-awaited son of David, the Messiah!
We call this event the Triumphal Entry of Christ, but very soon, the
triumph would turn to tragedy as Jesus was arrested, falsely tried and
convicted, then crucified.
How did this happen? Who was responsible for the cruel death of Jesus?
B. Did Jesus die because of…
2. A greedy disciple?
(Matthew 26:14-25, 36-50; John 12:3-6. C/R: Matthew 6:24; Colossians 3:5; 1
Judas Iscariot (from town of Kerioth in Judah) is identified in the New
Testament as the betrayer of Jesus—a betrayal predicted in the Psalms
(Psalms 41:9; 55:12-14).
But Judas had been one of Jesus’ hand-picked helpers the past three years;
Jesus teach, saw Him heal and enjoyed His friendship, so why did he turn traitor?
Some writers believe Judas wanted to force Jesus into taking action, to
initiate a conflict with the Romans to drive them out of Judea.
The Gospels reveal that Satan entered Judas—and influenced him—but he had
to choose to submit to Satan’s direction. (Luke 22:3-6; John 13:27)
Both suggestions are involved in Judas’ motivation; neither his primary
Let’s consider at an incident that occurred the day before Jesus’ Triumphal
John 12:3–6 (NLT)—
Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume… and she
anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping His feet with her hair. …
But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray Him, said, 5 “That perfume was worth a
year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the
poor.” 6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and
since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for
Judas was greedy; his love of money allowed him to steal from resources
entrusted to him that supported the disciples and helped people in need.
We see his avarice evidenced again at Matthew 26:14–16 (NLT)—
Then Judas Iscariot, … went to the leading priests 15 and
asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave
him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From that time on, Judas
began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.
Judas singled out Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as the person to
Matthew 26:47–50 (NLT)—
…Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed
with swords and clubs.
[sent by leading priests and elders]
The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know
which one to arrest when I greet Him with a kiss.” 49 So
Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave
Him the kiss.
Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”
Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested Him.
Judas was willing to betray Jesus for money; I wonder whether we are by
earning income dishonestly, underreporting earnings or refusing to give to
[Colossians 3:5 says,
…a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
APP.: Are we betraying Jesus to follow this world: pleasure, power,
Did Jesus die because of…
2. An envious religious leadership?
(Mark 15:9-11; John 5:16-18; 11:47-53. C/R: Galatians 5:26; Philippians
2:3; James 3:14–16)
- The religious leaders of Israel (priests and lawyers) should have been
eager to discover if this miracle-worker was the long-awaited Messiah, but
John 5:16–18 (NLT)—
So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath
rules. 17 But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working,
and so am I.” 18 So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder
to find a way to kill him. For He not only broke the Sabbath, He called
God His Father, thereby making Himself equal with God.
[Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Malachi, David, Solomon, all did!]
These religious leaders considered themselves the experts on God and His
Then Jesus showed up claiming intimacy with God, …and gaining popularity!
John 11:47–50,53 (NLT)—
Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council
together.…“This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. 48 If we allow Him to go on like this, soon everyone will
believe in Him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our
Temple and our nation.”
Caiaphas, who was high priest…, said, “… 50 it’s better…
that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be
So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death.
Their true motivation for murdering Jesus is seen at Matthew 27:18 (NLT)—
([Pilate] knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus
out of envy.)
The people were beginning to follow Him, listen
to His teaching, seeking His opinion about
religious matters rather than theirs; they were
filled with jealousy!
They had Him arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, tried Him before the
Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin, who condemned Him to death for
APP.: Have we ever wanted Jesus’ authority removed from our lives? Do we
resent Him because we want to live the way we want and don’t like His Word
pointing out where we are wrong in our personal lives spiritually and
Because Israel was ruled by Rome, the Sanhedrin could not carry out a death
sentence, they needed Pilate, the Roman governor, to carry out the
Did Jesus die because of…
3. An insecure authority?
(John 19:1-16. C/R: Proverbs 29:25; Matthew 27:24-26; Mark 15:15; 2 Timothy
1:7; Hebrews 13:6)
Pontius Pilate was appointed governor of Judea by Roman Emperor Tiberius;
he disrespected the Jewish religion, even took Temple money to build an
He was deeply resented for his tactics and despised as a Gentile by the
He was ruthless in maintaining law and order—using violence, even murder,
to suppress any threat of uprising or riot, but his brutality displeased
He was ambitious, so he feared of another bad report reaching the Roman
The Jews accused Jesus of creating unrest, opposing tax payments to Caesar
and claiming to be a king (Luke 23:2), but Pilate found nothing wrong with
Luke 23:5 (NLT)—
Then [the Jews] became insistent. “But He is causing riots by His
teaching wherever He goes—all over Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem!”
[A very disturbing comment to a man charged with maintaining peace and
John 19:12 (NLT—Then Pilate tried to release Him [Passover custom]
, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no
‘friend of Caesar.’ Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel
[See the threat!]
Matthew 27:24-26 (NLT)—
Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was
developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before
the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The
responsibility is yours!”
[He lacked the courage, the conviction, to do what he knew was right!]
And the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for His
death—we and our children!”
So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a
lead-tipped whip, then turned Him over to the Roman soldiers to be
Pilate’s fear of Caesar, his concern about what these Jewish leaders would
report and how they would react, caused him to give in and order Jesus
Sometimes insecurity or fear causes us to abandon our convictions about
We don’t want to lose friends or a romantic relationship, so we compromise
what we believe to fit in, to make peace; we engage in behavior we know is
Did Jesus die because of…
4. An ordinary person?
(Acts 4:27-28; Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 4:10)
- Jesus gathered with His ordinary disciples on Thursday evening in the Upper
Room (Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12) to celebrate the Passover meal (Last or
Matthew 26:23-24 (NLT)—
[Jesus] replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with Me
will betray Me. 24 For the Son of Man must die, as the
Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one
who betrays Him. …!”
Judas was identified, then left, but others confused about meaning. (John
LORD’S SUPPER: Matthew 26:26-31 (NLT)—[BREAD]
As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then He
broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and
eat it, for this is My body.”
And He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to
them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is My
blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people. It is
poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. …”
Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert Me. For
the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the
flock will be scattered.’
But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to
Galilee and meet you there.”
Jesus was walking toward His arrest, torture and death, yet He spoke to
these men, whose sin required His sacrifice and who would personally betray
Him in His hour of greatest need—that He would arise and would meet them
Jesus Christ died so that we could live; He shed His blood to save, to
1 Peter 2:24 (NLT)—
He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can
be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are
[Why would He die for these disciples or us—ordinary people who sin?]
[For love!] 1 John 4:10 (NLT)—
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent
His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.