Christ’s saving work is testimony to the Father’s love and wisdom. In answer to the question, “Who killed Jesus?,” the ultimate answer is not Judas who betrayed Him, not the Jews who conspired against Him, not the mob that chose Barabbas over Jesus for release, not Pilate who gave Him in His innocence over to death. The answer to the question of who is ultimately responsible for Christ’s death is not even us as sinners, although our sin is certainly at issue. The ultimate answer for who killed Jesus is God Himself, as prophetic word makes clear.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:8, NKJV)
Having referenced Pilate, the Creed goes on to say that Jesus was crucified, the method of choice for capital crimes by the Roman government. Crucifixion was a particularly horrible way to die, but as horrific as Jesus’ physical agony was, it paled in comparison to the agony of soul he endured. The whole biblical framework gives context for the impact of Jesus’ death. The writer of Hebrews speaks of the temple and the sacrificial system of the Old Testament as previews for the sacrifice to come, looking to Jesus as both the effective Priest and the effective Sacrifice:
For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. (Heb. 7:26–27)
Jesus went to the cross as the sacrifice to deal with sin’s debt. He atoned for sin’s guilt and suffered the penalty demanded by God’s justice, not just by death but by death on a cross. Paul in his letter to the Galatians: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)” (Gal. 3:13). The reference Paul makes to a tree is found in the Old Testament and speaks to the just punishment of the one who breaks God’s law. Jesus, however, became accursed that we who proclaim the Creed in faith might know the blessings of His obedience in our place.