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Dear Gramps,

Did the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus commit sin? After all, they were doing the Father’s will. And it resulted in the great atonement that saved billions of people. So did they commit sin in crucifying Jesus?





Dear Robert,

They only thing we can say for sure is that we don’t know for sure.  There are a couple different issues at play here.

First, just because God had a foreknowledge of what would happen, and used it as part of His plan, does not mean that the Roman soldiers were doing God’s will.  The same can be said of Judas or Adam and Eve partaking of the forbidden fruit.  Another example would be the first pages of the Book of Mormon that were lost in that incident with Martin Harris.  The Lord had foreknowledge of all these things, but it does not mean these people were compelled to act in the way they did.  It is simply that the God knew and used these things to bring about His work.  It’s pretty amazing really, to think that the Lord can even use our mistakes, to further His work.

Another aspect to this is that we simply don’t know what knowledge of right and wrong the Roman soldiers possessed.  They lived in a culture very different from our own.  A culture that believed in multiple gods: Jupiter, Neptune, Mars, Venus and others.  They did not have all the scriptures and prophesy to teach them about a Messiah that the Jewish people did.  At the same time,  Matthew 8:5-13 tells us about a Roman soldier who had great faith in Christ.  He came and asked Christ to heal his servant.  Christ agreed and offered to come to his home.  The soldier, in an act of humility and faith, said that he was not worthy to have the Savior come to his home, but if Christ would just speak the word his servant would be healed.  And it was so.  That is tremendous faith.

Another scripture story merits our attention as well.  In Matthew 26:47, Matthew tells us that: “Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.”

The fact that they brought a “great multitude” of heavily armed soldiers suggested that they felt something of his divinity and were fearful.  One might suggest that they were concerned about Christ’s followers, but I don’t think that is the case.  Christ’s followers were the humble and meek, not the kind of people that strike fear into the hearts of professional soldiers.  Remember also that when they apprehended Christ, He was in a garden with some of his apostles who were sleeping–not with a multitude.

So you see, we just really don’t know.  Christ did say, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”   I think the best thing for us is not to try and decide…not to judge.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ counsel applies well here:

“Thus, we must refrain from making final judgments on people because we lack the knowledge and the wisdom to do so. We would even apply the wrong standards. The world’s way is to judge competitively between winners and losers. The Lord’s way of final judgment will be to apply His perfect knowledge of the law a person has received and to judge on the basis of that person’s circumstances, motives, and actions throughout his or her entire life (see Luke 12:47–48John 15:222 Ne. 9:25).” “Judge Not” and Judging





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