Who Killed Jesus?
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it back up again. This command I received from my Father.
John’s gospel resolves the centuries old debate of who killed Jesus. No one did; neither the Jews nor the Roman government. People were instrumental in facilitating the crucifixion, but no one can stake the claim or be assigned the blame for His death. Jesus maintained complete control over every facet of His life, including His demise. Recently I realized that this was pre-determined and mandated by the Father. At any point in time Jesus was free to change His mind. He didn’t have to suffer and die if He didn’t want to. The fact that He was empowered by the Father to not have to complete the plan of redemption was something I’d not understood before. Scripture confirms this.
When the arresting party arrived at the garden for Jesus, He made an interesting statement. “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once (emphasis mine) put at my disposal twelve legions of angels?” Matthew 26.53-54. This wasn’t an idle threat or small talk. It was a statement of fact and its import wasn’t lost on the soldiers and officials. Simply speaking the words, “I am” Jesus knocked to the ground and neutralized the Roman soldiers and Jewish temple police. I doubt they wished for any encounter with a heavenly host of defenders. One word from Jesus and the situation in the garden would have changed direction immediately.
As much as God desires relationship with all people, He steadfastly refuses to over-ride anyone’s free will, even Jesus’. By His Father’s design, He could at any moment opt out of their plan without out any anger or disappointment on the Father’s part. Jesus was free to lay down His life or take it back without any pressure to perform.
This says so much about the quality of God’s love. Salvation isn’t forced on anyone, including Jesus. As much as He desires to be reunited with His family, God is willing to honor everyone’s freedom of choice.
Jesus amazes me. This is just one of the many things I love about Him. At any point He could have abandoned the mission and returned to Heaven. Perhaps the reason He said so few words throughout His whole ordeal was to prevent anger, frustration, pain, etc. from tempting Him to call it quits. One slip of the tongue and man would’ve been lost forever.
I don’t know that if I had been in Jesus’ position, knowing I could end the pain and suffering at any time, I would have endured to the end. Doing that requires a level of love I fall far short of, but keep working to develop. Unfortunately, this doesn’t come in an effortless heavenly download, but through practical application in difficult circumstances. I can’t say I’ve even scratched the surface when it comes to understanding the depth, height and breadth of God’s love. That will take all eternity. To sum this up, I’m reminded of the chorus of an old hymn.
Such love, such wondrous love. Such love, such wondrous love.
That God could love a sinner such as I.
How wonderful is love like this.
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