Who nailed Jesus to the cross?

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QUESTION: Who nailed Jesus to the cross? What happened to the person or persons who did this? Did God forgive or punish them?

ANSWER: In a very real sense, we all nailed Jesus to the cross as he died not just for all sins collectively but also the ones you and I commit. Christ is just as much a personal Savior as he is one for the whole world. That said, your question concerns who, in the first century A.D., literally pounded the long nails into Christ's flesh in order to suspend him above the ground as a warning to fear the punishment of Rome.

The only thing we know for sure is that one or more Roman soldiers did the real work of putting the actual nails in Jesus. In the first century the Romans occupied Judea and had an official Roman appointed king over the people (Herod the Great was the first appointed king from 37 to 4 B.C.). This means that the Jews in Judea did not have the authority to carry out the death penalty for capital crimes. If they had possessed such power, they no doubt would have killed God's son sooner without having to manipulate the hated Romans to do it.

29. Therefore, Pilate came out to them (Jewish religious leaders who wanted Christ dead) and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" 30. They answered and said to him, "If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you." 31. Then Pilate said to them, "You take Him and judge Him according to your own law." But the Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death" (John 18:29 - 32, HBFV)

The empire, through the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate (who served in this capacity from 26 to 36 A.D.), ultimately made sure the sentence would be carried out completely by having guards around the crosses of those who were condemned (Matthew 27:54).

No record exists of the names of those Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the stake. As far as what happened to these people after his death, there is also no historical record. What is ultimately important is that those who killed the Son of God were forgiven, a fact only recorded in the book of Luke.

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33. And when they came to the place called Place of a Skull, there they crucified Him and the malefactors, one on the right and one on the left. 34. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And as they divided His garments, they cast lots (Luke 23:33 - 34, HBFV)

In closing, here are some things to consider regarding the death of Jesus at Golgotha.

Since the life of Jesus was worth more than the lives of all human beings combined, his death through being nailed on the cross was more than sufficient to pay for the sins of the world. He now lives as man's constant mediator to God.

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