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WHO killed Christ ?
  and WHY ?


This page is designed to address two erroneous answers that are often given to the important question "Who killed Jesus Christ?"
      We will address the Christian conservative answer that all mankind, rather than any specific group of people killed Jesus below, but first, let's look at the answer that had so much to do with the Nazi Holocaust.
crucifyhim      For centuries people mindlessly repeated the unfounded charge that the Jews were responsible for Jesus Christ's death, until the Catholic and Lutheran "Christians" of Germany decided to make all of innocent Jews that they could get their hands on pay for that crime with their lives.  It's ironic that the very same kind of "Christians" who have been able to imagine that Jews of their own time should bear some kind of responsibility for the death of one Christian nearly 2000 years ago, have a hard time recognizing the moral responsibility of the millions of their fellow Christians for endorsing and participating in the mass-murder of 6 million of their contemporaneous Jewish neighbors.  ( See how tragic and unholy a role the leaders and the members of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches of Europe played in the Jewish Holocaust at www.CatholicArrogance.Org/RCscandal.html ).

There are Jewish and even Christian scholars who argue very convincingly that there were anti-semitic elements added to the Jesus story when the Gospels were written years after his death which have no basis in fact, (such as the Roman Procurator Pilate being "the good guy" forced by evil Jews to kill Jesus).
      What I argue in this page, however, as a Christian clergyman, is that even if we accept the traditional reading of the Gospels, it has always been a mistake to view what the Gospels say against certain kinds of Jews (who opposed another kind of Jews) as a condemnation of all Jews, i.e. of Jews as Jews.

There are very thought--provoking books on this subject.  One is outstanding book, Constantine's Sword, by Roman Catholic James Carroll, which shows that the seeds of the Jewish Holocaust were sown in the Christian community almost from the start and then nurtured for many centuries before bearing its bitter fruit in what some have called "the greatest generation".
          Another is by the acclaimed author of "Hitler's Willing Executioners, the Jewish scholar, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, who has since published A Moral Reckoning calling to account the Roman Catholic Church in particular for its crucial role in the Holocaust.  See the end of the page linked above for links to excerpts from these outstanding works.

People who don't understand why Jews, and people who care about Jews, find Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ" so offensive should read what Jewish spokesmen have to say on the subject.  See : the Anti-Defamation League web page at

adl.org/PresRele/ASUS_12/4291_12.htm and
the Simon Wiesenthal Center's statement at
wiesenthal.com/mailings_swc/swc_feb2504.htm and
the Letter from Tikkun's Rabbi Lerner

Who wanted Jesus dead?

  People who don't know who wanted Jesus Christ dead and why, don't know what Jesus' life was all about, because the death of this man was a direct result of what Jesus was trying to accomplish, and how certain people, who were adversely affected by Jesus' life and teaching, conspired to cut his life and his work short.  People who don't understand why Jesus was killed, and by whom simply don't know what his life was all about.
        For all their spouting of scripture, this subject is a perfect illustration of how little understanding many Christians have of the Gospels, because what is clear from even a casual reading of the Gospels is that Jesus wasn't killed either by the Jews as such or by the Romans as such.  Let's look at the record !
Jesus told his followers exactly who his killers were going to be and what motivated them:

{ In Mark 10: 32 – 34 }  

: He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again."

{And in Luke 9:22 – 26 }  

"The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."  Then he said to them all, "if any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.  What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?  Those (preachers and followers) who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."

{ Luke 21: 37 – 22:5 }  

    (Then Jesus described the plotting of those clerics as follows:)

        " Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called.  And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.  Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near.  The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.  Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them.  They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money.

The real mystery isn't who killed Christ, which the Gospels make crystal clear, but why people seem unwilling to accept the fact that Christ was murdered by so-called "men of god".  To understand, the role of these religious leaders in the murder of Jesus, one must not be fooled by the political maneuvers these people engaged in at his trials. (as described in Luke 22, below)  When arguing their case before Herod or Pilate, and before the Sanhedrin, these murderers were not necessarily displaying their real reasons for wanting Jesus dead, but rather the ones most likely to impress the judges involved.

{ Luke 22: 66 – 23:6 }  

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council.  They said, "If you are the Messiah, tell us." He replied, "If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer.  But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God."  All of them asked, "Are you, then, the Son of God?"  He said to them, "You say that I am."  Then they said, "What further testimony do we need?  We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!" 
        Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate.  They began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king."  Then Pilate asked him,  "Are you the king of the Jews?"  He answered, "You say so."  Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds,  "I find no basis for an accusation against this man."  But they were insistent and said,  "He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place."  When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean.  And when he learned that he was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.  When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign.  He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer.  The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him.  Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate.  That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.  Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people,  and said to them,  "You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him.  Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us.  Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death.  I will therefore have him flogged and release him."  . . .  (v. 20) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting,  "Crucify, crucify him!"

If other passages show who killed Jesus, passages such as Matthew 21: 31 – 46  makes it very clear why the "men of God" of that time and place wanted to kill him.  They didn't appreciate it when Jesus addressed them as follows:

Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.  For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.  "Listen to another parable.  There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower.  Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country.  When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce.  But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.  Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way.  Finally he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.'  But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance."  So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.  Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?"  They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time."  Jesus said to them,   "Have you never read in the scriptures: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes'?  Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.  The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls."  When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them.  They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet."
    Matthew expands on the above in 23: 1-39 :
        "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.
        They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.  They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long.  They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them 'rabbi'.  But you are not to be called 'rabbi', for you have one teacher, and you are all students.  And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father – the one in heaven.  Nor are you to be called 'instructors', for you have one instructor, the Messiah.  The greatest among you will be your servant. 
        All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
        But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven.  For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.
        Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. . .
        "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.  It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.  You blind guides!  You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! 
        Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  You blind Pharisees!  First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.
        Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth.  So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 
        Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.'  Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets.  Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors.  You snakes, you brood of vipers!  How can you escape being sentenced to hell?  Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.  Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation.  "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!  How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!  See, your house is left to you, desolate.  For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.' "

Matthew gives us more lengthy quotes of Jesus' words, but the other Gospel writers also believed this teaching was important enough to relate in their own shorter versions.  Here's the way Luke and John spell out who killed Jesus and why :

{Luke 16: 13 – 15 }  

No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."  The Pharisees, who (because they) were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him.  So he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God."

{Luke 11: 43 – 51 }  

"Woe to you Pharisees!  For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces.
        Woe to you!  For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it."  One of the lawyers ( a professional student of "the Law and the Prophets") answered him, "Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too."  And he said,
        "Woe also to you lawyers!  For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. 
        Woe to you!  For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed.  So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs.  Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,'  so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah,"

{ John 5: 15 – 18 }  

"The man (who had been healed) went away and told the (Leaders of the) Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.  Therefore the (Leaders of the) Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.  But Jesus answered them,  "My Father is still working, and I also am working."  For this reason the (Leaders of the) Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.

( John is very unique in the way that he refers to "the Jews", when talking about people that the three other gospels clearly identified as "scribes," "chief priests", "lawyers," and / or "Pharisees,"  After seeing the way people have maligned the whole Jewish people, by saying that "the Jews killed Christ", I think it is imperative to spell out as I did in parentheses in the passage above that when John says "the Jews" we should understand that to mean the politico-religious leadership of the Jews (which bears striking resemblance to the "Religious Right" of our day.  and of many days in the past. )

{ John 7:19 – 25 }  

"Did not Moses give you the law?  Yet none of you keeps the law.  Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?"  The crowd answered, "You have a demon!  Who is trying to kill you?"  Jesus answered them, "I performed one work, and all of you are astonished.  Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath.  If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man's whole body on the sabbath?  Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."  Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, "Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill?"

{ John 8:37 – 47 }  

I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word.  I declare what I have seen in the Father's presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father."  They answered him,  "Abraham is our father."  Jesus said to them,  "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing what Abraham did,  but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God.  This is not what Abraham did.  You are indeed doing what your father does."  They said to him, "We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself."  Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here.  I did not come on my own, but he sent me.  Why do you not understand what I say?  It is because you cannot accept my word.  do your father's desires.  He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.  Which of you convicts me of sin?  If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?  Whoever is from God hears the words of God.  The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God."  . . .  (v.59) So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
{ John 4:1-3 }
        Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard,   "Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John"  – although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized –   he left Judea and started back to Galilee.
        For much, much more on the reasons that Jesus infuriated the "Religious Right" of his day enough for them to want to kill him dead, see the Sins & Sinners that bothered Jesus MOST.

{ John 11: 46 – 53 }  

" But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done.  So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, "What are we to do?  This man is performing many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation."  But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all!  You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed."  He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation,  and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God.  So from that day on they planned to put him to death."

        In addition to what the Gospels say about who killed Jesus and why, they also explain that the same experience awaits those closely associated with Jesus going forward, at the hands of the same kinds of people and for the same reasons :
{ John 12:9 – 11 }  

"When the great crowd of the (Leaders of the) Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.  So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the (Leaders of the) Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

{ John 15:19 – 25 }  

If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own.  Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world – therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, 'Servants are not greater than their master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.  But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.  Whoever hates me hates my Father also.  If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.  It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, 'They hated me without a cause.'

{ John 16:1 – 4 }  

I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling.  They will put you out of the synagogues.  Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.  And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me.  But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them."

        And this is what Peter said in
[ Acts 2: 22– 23 ]  

"You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know – this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law."
        After writing the above, I had the good fortune of being introduced to the book "The Mythmaker", written by a man who has a great deal to teach Christians about the culture of Jesus of Nazareth and of Paul of Tarsus.  Hyam Maccoby is a Jewish Scholar who made me aware of how little we Christians understand about our own "New Testament".  "The Mythmaker" argues very forcefully (among many other excellent points) that :

  1. when you understand what the Pharisees actually were in Jesus' time, it's impossible to view Jesus as anything but a Pharisee;
  2. when you understand what the Hebrew Priesthood and the Sadducees were all about in Jesus' time, it is most likely that they were Jesus' principal foes;
  3. when you understand the contrasts between Paul and Jesus, that Paul was much more a Sadducee than a Pharisee, and that it is Paul's influence over the writing of much of the "New Testament" that caused the Pharisees to become the villains of that New Testament.

        For much, much more on the Leaders of the "Religious Right" of our day, see
When the blind follow Blind Leaders  &
Why follow the "Vicar" instead of following "Christ"?

If only they read the Gospels,
Christian conservatives would know better!

In response to Fundamentalists, Southern Baptist, or unaffiliated so-called "Bible-believing" Christian types who say things like "The religionists, didn't kill Him, the Jews didn't kill Him, the Romans didn't kill Him. You and I killed Him," it's such a shame that poor Jesus didn't know that. He was obviously under the illusion that the Jews and "Gentile" Romans were the ones who were going to kill him:

{ According to Mark 10: 32 – 34 }

He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again." {And according to Luke 9:22 – 26 }
        "The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."

Such people display their ignorance of the bible they claim to represent. They build a whole house of cards on one or two verses of the bible, while ignoring a host of other passages that don't fit in their pseudo –theology.
        Here is the way Peter, one of the most important of the apostles that Jesus had trained to take over after he left the scene, saw the death of Jesus:

Acts 2: 14–23

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addres

sed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. . .  22 "Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law."

and again in Acts 3:13–15

"The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him.  But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses."

and again in Acts 5: 29–33

But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than any human authority.  The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.  God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him." When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them."

According to Acts 13,27 – 28  Paul saw things exactly the same way :

"Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed."
        In 1 Th 1:15, "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy " talk (to the church of the Thessalonians) about "the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets,"

In his final book: [u]Armageddon in Retrospect[/u] Kurt Vonnegut wrote regarding the death penalty - which most of the developed nations other than the US consider too barbaric for modern times. -  "If Jesus were alive today, we would kill him with lethal injection. I call that progress. We would have to kill him for the same reason he was killed the first time. His ideas are just too liberal." (p. 22)


During the brief period when Herman Cain was the leader of the Republican presidential primary, he published a lame and ludicrous article entitled "Jesus was the perfect conservative killed by a liberal court", arguing the very opposite of what I argue on LiberalsLikeChrist.Org. Sometimes, the best evidence of which side is right is the stupidity of the opposing argument!

Benedict-16.jpg Did you hear the
one about the Pope
the Jews
(of the charge that
they killed Christ)

[ www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-jews-idUSTRE7216Y720110302 ]

Is this supposed to be funny?
        It's like a white police chief whose officers have just mowed down a whole community of African Americans because, to the police, they all looked like some black criminals they were pursuing, and saying afterwards "we're sorry, but you know how y'all look the same to us. It turns out your loved ones weren't the criminals we were looking for after all. So, consider your loved-ones "exonerated";  and move on now, move on."

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