The other day I heard a preacher talking about the crucifixion of Jesus and the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus and his "murder." Although it might have been just a slip of the tongue and perhaps not even something the preacher believed, nevertheless it was spoken in the context of Jesus having lost his life at the hands of others in a premeditated or spontaneous way. Over the years I have heard that before, that Jesus was murdered and died at the will of others.
Perhaps I am just splitting straws, but I believe that Jesus willingly gave His life as a sacrifice because God had demanded it. His life was not taken from him in the form of intended homicide or unintended, spontaneous manslaughter. From His earliest life for which we have an account it appears that Jesus was aware of His mission on earth. Even before His appearance on earth there was a hint of His mission.
Joseph, who was engaged to marry Jesus' mother, Mary, was considering breaking off the engagement since it appeared that she was pregnant. But an angle of the Lord appeared to him in a dream telling him, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:20-21)
When Jesus was twelve years old he and his family visited the Temple in Jerusalem for the Jewish Feast of the Passover. When the Passover was completed the family started their journey home. Jesus stayed behind and was not missed before the completion of a full day's journey. When Mary and Joseph returned to find him talking to the leaders in the Temple who were amazed at the maturity and knowledge he possessed, his parents seemed to chastise him by saying, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." (Luke 2:48) Jesus answered them, "Why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49)
Some believe that this verse in Luke could be rendered, "Don't you know that I should be about my Father's business?" Even at a young age of twelve years old Jesus had a sense that he was doing his Father's business and needed to learn all he could to carry out the Father's will. The Apostle Paul picks up on this theme when he recites what some believe to be a poem or song, "And being found in appearance as a man, he [Jesus]humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:8)
Deep into his ministry Jesus had entered the region of Caesarea Philippi where he asked his Disciples who people thought he was. When they answered that some thought he was one prophet or another, Jesus asked them who they thought he was. It was at that time that Peter confessed Jesus to be the Christ, "the son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16) Matthew continued, "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teacher of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." (Matthew 16:21)
Jesus knew he would die, but he also knew that it was a journey that he had to finish; it was his desire to follow the will of God. He proceeded on toward Jerusalem with his twelve disciples in tow. On the way again he said, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!" (Matthew 20:17-19)
Finally, at the eleventh hour, having known for years what his mission was on earth, Jesus arrived in another garden far from the Garden of Eden, the Garden at Gethsemane. He said to his disciples, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'" (Matthew 26:38-39)
Jesus was on a mission and had to complete every prophecy from God in order to be the perfect sacrifice that would be acceptable to God. His life was always in his hands alone, if people wanted to take his life prematurely he would "walk through their midst." He did not walk unknown into a trap cleverly set by the powers that be, he knew from the very beginning what he had to do. So as he hung between heaven and earth on the instrument of death used in crucifixion, the seventh, and last statement uttered by Jesus was, "It is finished." "With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (John 19:30)
The Jews did not murder Jesus; the Romans did not murder Jesus; no ethnic group or individual murdered Jesus. Jesus laid down his life as a sacrifice willingly because it was the Will of God to be an acceptable sacrifice for the redemption of lost people everywhere.