The crucifixion of the Messiah was not some cosmic mistake. Theologically, the death and resurrection of Jesus is the absolute core of Christian faith. We have already considered both the historical and biblical viewpoints, but it is also necessary to evaluate Jewish guilt in the death of Jesus from a theological perspective.
The Bible says that even though people were guilty of participating in the crucifixion, they were acting under God’s sovereign plan. After describing the conspiracy of human guilt (Acts 4:27), the very next verse states, “They did what Your power and will had decided beforehand should happen” (v.28). Plainly, this prayer recognizes the divine decree in the crucifixion.
Peter also noted this when he preached to a crowd on the Day of Pentecost. He said, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23).
Some might think that God did not anticipate the crucifixion. They operate under the idea that a series of bad events came together and caught God by surprise. If this were true, then the Lord Jesus would not have been called “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). When Adam and Eve sinned, God was not taken by surprise. It was always God’s plan to redeem humanity through the death of His Son. In eternity past, it was decided that God the Son would become a man to be the perfect representation of humanity and thereby redeem the world through His atoning death and resurrection.
In fact, the crucifixion was foretold centuries before it took place. The prophet Isaiah, 800 years before the crucifixion, viewed it as God’s will, saying, “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer” (Isa. 53:10).The Lord Jesus went to the cross willingly because He knew it was the Father’s plan. He said:
No one takes [My life] 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 (Jn. 10:18).
As Messiah and Lord, Jesus could have stopped the crucifixion instantly. He could have called countless angels to protect Him, but He chose to die willingly. He said, as He prayed in agony in the garden, “Yet not as I will, but as You will” (Mt. 26:39). Jesus accepted God’s will and He went to the cross.
Why was it necessary for God to send His one and only Son to die? The simple answer is: because of our sin. Not just Jewish people, not just some people, but all people—Jews and Gentiles alike—have sinned and separated themselves from God. God’s eternal plan was to provide atonement for humanity through the death and resurrection of the Messiah. Even the sacrifices in the Old Testament were pictures pointing to the day when God would send the Messiah as the ultimate sacrifice for sin.
Since the atonement was God’s eternal and sovereign plan, it should affect our perspective of the crucifixion. If God had chosen any other people group as His special people, the Lord Jesus would have been incarnated not as a Jewish man but from some other nation. Therefore, if the Jesus had been Asian or Native American or Nigerian or from any other people group, He would have been rejected by His kinsmen and died as an atoning sacrifice in their land. But by God’s sovereignty, He chose the Jewish people as His unique people and planned to send the Messiah through them.
Since the Lord Jesus was incarnated as a Jewish man living in the land of Israel, it should come as no surprise that some Jewish people participated in His death. If He had come to any other people, that ethnic group would also have participated in His death as part of God’s sovereign plan.