Tears Of The Messiah – A Reprise

I re-posted this article two years ago (it first appeared here in March 2013), but I think it rightly brings a couple things together. First, it deals with the events leading up to Jesus’s trials, crucifixion, and resurrection, which we commemorate at this time of year. Secondly, it includes thoughts based on the book of Jeremiah, which I am again currently re-reading. Without further prologue:

– – – – –

Most people know that Jesus wept at Lazarus’s tomb before He raised him back to life. It’s a touching scene, one that has produced any number of sermons.

Fewer people, I tend to think, know about Jesus weeping over Jerusalem on his final entry into the City of David. Luke records the scene, as well as the build-up to it. Clearly Jesus cared deeply—not for the walls and the buildings, but for the people inside, for what Jerusalem stood for. This was the place God intended to be central to His worship. His people were there, the temple known as His house was there.

As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting:

    “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord;
    Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:37-44)

Earlier, when Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, He had similar thoughts:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! (Luke 13:34)

Jesus was deeply moved by the rejection of His rebellious people. He wanted them to receive their King, to experience the peace with God He offered.

Scripture makes it clear that God’s desire is still for rebellious people to repent and turn to Him. Jesus said in Matthew, “It is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish” (18:14) Then in 1 Timothy, Paul wrote

This [prayer on behalf of all men] is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I’m in awe that Jesus unabashedly wept for those who would turn their back on Him, that God, loving the world so much, paid the price for our sin just so we could enjoy peace with Him:

you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

I’ve never thought about it much before, but might not Jesus weep for each person who walks away from Him?

Jeremiah is sometimes called the weeping prophet because in a number of places Scripture mentions him weeping for Judah and their stubborn, rebellious heart—well, more precisely for the destruction of the nation which he foresaw.

At one point he prophesied that the people who had been taken to Babylon in the first wave of captivity would be better off than those left behind. They would prosper in their new land and one day be restored to Judah. But those who stayed or who fled to Egypt would bring destruction on their heads. I’m sure the people who heard him thought he was nuts. Captivity good, freedom bad, he seemed to be saying.

The problem was, they had limited sight. Jeremiah was speaking the words given him by omniscient God.

So, too, Jesus knows we are in desperate need of His life-giving blood—more dramatically than if we were in need of a transfusion. What’s more, He bled out for us. Why, then, wouldn’t He weep over those who wave Him off and walk on by to destruction?

Published in: on March 19, 2018 at 5:21 pm  Comments (1)  
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Not important enough to merit more than a black and white picture.

If the book of Genesis was a novel, Hagar would be considered a minor character. If it were a play, she’d be a bit actor. In truth, she has very few scenes and even fewer lines. And the thing is, the lines she does have, the scenes she is in, don’t show her in a very good light.

First off, Sarah gives Hagar, her Egyptian maid, to her husband to be a concubine. Stop right there. Hagar is of “foreign” descent. She’s a maid to a nomadic woman. I’m not thinking she has much standing in the world.

And then she becomes a concubine. As a servant, she apparently has no say in the matter when her mistress hands her over to the head of the house, Abraham.

But to Hagar’s delight, her union with Abraham bears fruit. In fact, she’s so delighted that she’s pregnant, she looks down on her mistress. That’s the start of some serious domestic problems. Sarah ended up treating Hagar so harshly, she ran away. To the desert. She had to be desperate.

There she encountered an angel who told her she was pregnant and should return and submit to her mistress. And here’s the turning point in her life:

Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”

Just a servant girl, one who was apparently a bit haughty and given to flight, but God saw her.

She returned and gave birth to a son who she named Ishmael—God will hear.

Sounds to me like Hagar—the Egyptian, the maid, the concubine—had a relationship with God. She knew He saw her. She knew He heard her. At her lowest point, God came to her.

Well, maybe not her lowest point.

When her son was a teen, and no longer an only child—Abraham had a son by his wife Sarah—he did what boys will do. He teased, and probably bullied, young Isaac. So much so that Sarah persuaded Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. All they had was a “skin” of water and some bread. And God, watching out for them.

When the water ran out, Hagar really did reach her lowest point. She couldn’t stand the thought of watching her son die, so she left him under some bushes and went off alone. Once again God rescued her. He opened her eyes so that she saw a well, and He gave her a promise that her son would also be the head of a great nation.

She gave Ishmael the drink that he needed to live and they settled there in the wilderness until he grew to be a man. Then Hagar arranged for him to marry an Egyptian, and he did in fact fulfill the prophecy God gave his mother during that “dark night of the soul.”

The main thing I learn here is this: in the midst of Abraham’s story and the promises and miracles God performed for the man who was later referred to as “a friend of God” (see James 2:23), God also took care of a lowly maid, someone not in the Messianic line. And as some would be quick to point out, a woman.

God is no respecter of persons. He really isn’t. I think it’s easy to lose sight of that because the Jewish nation is referred to as “the apple of His eye.” They are “the chosen people.” But in truth, God chose them, not because they were numerous or strong or great in any sense of the word, but because they were weak and few in number so that His grace could shine through.

He wanted the world to see Him through His relationship with the nation of Israel, just as He now wants the world to see Him through His relationship with the Church. The point is and always has been to give a picture of what everyone can have. After all, God didn’t just start loving the world when John 3:16 was written.

So in Christ’s genealogy there’s an adulteress, a woman who slept with her father-in-law, a foreigner from a nation that was banned from entering the temple, and an unmarried virgin. Why?

God wants the point to get through to us: salvation is not for an elite group of special people who do things just the right way. It’s for the Hagars of the world who reach bottom and who look up to the God who hears, to the God who sees.

He, in turn, pours out His grace and rescues those who recognize their need for Living Water.

Published in: on January 29, 2018 at 5:36 pm  Comments (2)  
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Does God Play Favorites?

ThreeSheepIn the atheist Facebook group I visit from time to time, one person brought up the idea that God favors the Jews, which is bound to make everyone else feel bad. I admit, when I was growing up, I was sad to learn that I was not one of the “chosen people.” But that was because of my ignorance.

Scripture states unequivocally that God picked the people of Israel to be His because of what we would consider their weaknesses. They weren’t strong, they were few in number, they weren’t influential.

So why them?

Scripture tells us that too:

The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments (Deut. 7:7-9)

The people of Israel benefited from God’s love and faithfulness, not from their own abilities or cleverness or obedience or wisdom or service. They were wayward, weak, needy, complaining, disobedient. But God had promised, and God is faithful.

The question still lies there: why choose any one nation at all?

God’s purpose from the beginning was to use His son to mediate between Himself and His creation. Adam filled that role at first when God put him in control of all creation, to rule it and subdue it. He was God’s ambassador to creation.

After the fall, God chose a nation, Israel, who he called His son, to show the way for the nations to find Him.

When their disobedience was complete, God sent His Son to be the beacon to the world.

Now He is building His Church to be those who reflect His glory, who shine the light of salvation to all the world.

So where is favoritism?

God hasn’t left anyone out.

Granted, He gave Adam and then Israel and now the Church unique roles. But certainly not favored roles. Would anyone say that God was showing favoritism to Jesus by sending Him to die at Calvary?

Israel wasn’t favored either. It was to serve as an example before the nations of a people who worshiped the one true God and obeyed Him, so that others would come to Him. They were sort of like the test case, the prototype. All the others could see how it was done, iron out the mistakes, and do it better.

If anything, Israel was under a microscope. They had to get it right, not just for themselves, but for all the watching nations around them.

But, of course, they didn’t get it right.

Their “favored nation” role became a place of judgment and condemnation, with a caveat: God promised them a remnant and a Savior.

Jesus is that Savior. Although His mission on earth was to teach and heal the people of Israel, as He Himself said (see Matt. 15:24), He made it clear that His ultimate goal was to seek and to save the lost. He came because God loves the world, not just the Jews (see John 3:16). He provided Israel every opportunity to claim Him as Messiah, but they would not.

Consequently, new branches were grafted into the vine, and now we who were not a people, have become the people of God.

Just like the Jews, however, we haven’t been chosen because of some merit in ourselves. Rather, God choose the weak and the foolish of this world, that His power and glory will be all the more evident.

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” (1 Cor. 1:26-31)

Such an ironic question—does God play favorites. Throughout Israel’s history, He instructed them to care for orphans and widows and strangers. When Jesus came, He spent a great deal of His public ministry healing people who were the castoffs of society. And His entire purpose for coming to earth was to rescue the perishing. All who believe, even the very last little lamb who’s gone astray.

Yeah, no, God isn’t partial and doesn’t play favorites. Peter, in his first letter, tells us God impartially judges. James tells us there’s no partiality with God. Scripture also tells us that God wants all to come to repentance, that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

God’s love is as complete and universal as it can be. It’s us humans who treat God unfairly, not the other way around.

Published in: on July 19, 2016 at 6:31 pm  Comments Off on Does God Play Favorites?  
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Two Issues That Keep People From Truth

Jesus_the_Teacher031I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. Jesus plainly told a group of unbelievers why they were chasing falsehoods, but somehow I’d missed it. I hadn’t extrapolated what Jesus said to those He was addressing to all others who also held firmly to error.

Toward the end of Jesus’s life, the power brokers of His day—the Jewish leaders who controlled who was considered “clean” and therefore had access to the temple or, in places outside Jerusalem, to the synagogue—grilled Him about all kinds of things. Their motive was to trap Him so they could accuse Him of breaking the Law.

They asked Him what was the most important Law, whether it was right for Jews to pay taxes to Rome, how an adulterous woman should be punished, where His authority came from, and more.

Finally the Sadducees, the sect which didn’t believe in supernatural events like miracles and life after death or supernatural beings like angels, came up with what they thought was a fool-proof trap.

They told Jesus a story about a married woman whose husband, one of seven brothers, died. She had no children, so according to Jewish law, the brother was to marry her and produce an heir. First one brother married her, then he died. The next brother stepped up and married her, then he died, and so on until all seven brothers had married her. At last, she died as well.

The Jewish legalists trying to trip Jesus up had the stage set. So, they asked, in the after life [which they didn’t believe in], whose wife will she be since all seven men had her.

First, I’m a little shocked they told this story. It seems to me that any sensible man, after watching two, three, four of his brothers die after marrying that woman would realize she was a black widow and run the other way!

But apart from that, what hypocrites! Did they ever ask their polygamist men what wife would they have in the after life since they’d had all of those women? Of course not. It was fine for David to have hundreds of wives, for Solomon to have hundreds and hundreds of wives, but horrors if a wife had more then one husband, even if she only had one at a time.

Those unbelieving priests could just as easily have asked Jesus which wife would David have in the after life, but apparently in their cultural framework, multiple wives didn’t need to be explained. Only multiple husbands!

Jesus went straight to the heart of the problem, which wasn’t their inerrant cultural view of women. Their problem was that they didn’t believe in the supernatural.

I have to wonder what they thought about the blind men who could see after an encounter with Jesus. Or the lame man who got up and picked up his pallet when Jesus told him to. How about the lepers who were instantaneously clean? Or the dead boy raised to life? How did they account for these miracles if there was no supernatural power to intervene and change the course of nature?

They couldn’t explain any of it, so they teamed up with the leaders of the other Jewish sects to try and do away with Jesus. That’s all they had.

Jesus handled their question with aplomb. He didn’t beat around the bush, but gave them a straightforward answer that revealed their two problems—the same two problems all unbelieving people have:

    1. You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures
    2. You are mistaken, not understanding the power of God

Jesus then gave them a little Bible lesson:

“But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Matthew 22:32)

In one short answer, He gave them understanding of Scripture and of God.

First, He illustrated God’s power by reminding them that the words they knew from Scripture came to them from God. The line He quoted was what God told Moses at the burning bush—that would be the bush that burned but was not consumed. The miraculous bush from which God spoke. The bush on holy ground.

Jesus not only reminded them of God’s supernatural power but also of the truth of Scripture—every single word. After all, His argument hinged on the tense of the verb AM. God said, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Not, I was their God. The only conclusion to draw is that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are living beings.

But the sect that didn’t believe in miracles or the after life or angels couldn’t get it. They read past the truth clearly stated in Scripture, and they didn’t believe God had the power to do these supernatural things.

They wanted a nice, neat, manageable God that they could manipulate for their own purposes. In fact, they didn’t even want a Messiah, though they professed to be waiting for Him to come. They tipped their hand when the joined the mob railing against Pilate for his “not guilty” ruling at Jesus’s final trial. You’re no friend of Caesar, the crowd cried. They topped that by answering Pilate’s question, What shall I do with the King of the Jews, by shouting back, We have no king but Caesar.

Ah, they really didn’t understand Scripture. And they really didn’t understand the power of God.

Published in: on June 14, 2016 at 6:54 pm  Comments (5)  
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The Consumer Mentality

David_Livingstone_Preaching_from_his_Wagon,_Africa,_ca.1845-ca.1865_(imp-cswc-GB-237-CSWC47-LS16-019)It’s frightening to see what the consumer mentality does to everyday people. First, I’m defining “consumer mentality” as the desire for something new, greater, and more exciting than what we already have.

Consequently, we have a perfectly good, well-functioning tablet, but the Tech World releases the new version, the bigger version, the tripped out version, and now we are bored with the one we have. We see all its faults and short-comings.

Sadly, the consumer mentality goes beyond things to activities. That’s how skirts so long they only bared a woman’s ankle have morphed into bikinis that bare . . . well, most everything. That’s why a present in a stocking at Christmas became mounds of presents under a tree.

This “we want newer, we want better, we want bigger” makes us quickly bored with the same old thing. Consequently, any company that wants us to buy must keep churning out fresh material. Which is hard on the news business because there are only so many things happening in the world.

Something that hasn’t happened for a while gets the news machine humming. Katrina was a bonanza, but the next couple hurricanes had a sort of “been there, done that” feel and they couldn’t live up to the horror of the Superdome or the political wrangling connected with “the big one.” Consequently hurricanes in the Philippines or Mexico get barely a mention.

Japan’s earthquake/tsunami disaster was a two-fer, so it got big news attention. But there was Haiti and quakes in far away South American countries, and pretty soon quake fatigue set in.

Now ISIS and beheading—that was new, and big. Until Ebola came along as the New, Big Story.

But yesterday in the local news, the lead story was our weather. And not even “our” weather, because it was a fairly localized condition—high winds that snapped a few trees and caused damage to some cars and the roof of one building.

Buried in the news somewhere was the story about another North American who had been beheaded—along with a host of Syrians. I couldn’t believe my ears. As it turned out, there was also an Ebola story—a doctor who had contracted the disease in Sierra Leon, who was gravely ill (and has since died). But this too did not lead the news hour.

So apparently strong winds are the new, fresh, more interesting story. Until tomorrow.

But here’s the capper. Following the promo for the beheading story was one for the news feature about the record-setting tallest nutcracker ever made.

So that’s where the consumer mentality has placed a horrific deed—bloody mass executions. A minute on people dying. A minute on a new Guinness Book record for the tallest nutcracker—one that could clomp the teeth of its totem-pole-like face together and crack the shell of a coconut.

People die—awwww. People set records—yea! Anything to get the consumer to keep coming back.

Interestingly, Jesus showed that He doesn’t play that game. The Pharisees wanted Him to fast and follow their rules, but He partied instead.

Eventually the crowds wanted to make Him a king who would defeat Rome and free them from their oppression. They wanted the Exodus only in reverse. They wanted God to set His people free. Jesus said, My kingdom isn’t of this world. He showed how He intended to free people—through forgiveness of their sins.

That was sooooo not the way the consumer mentality works. You don’t reject the limelight. You embrace it. You don’t say no to the demand of the public, you promise to give them that and more. You don’t satisfy people’s needs—you create them.

On top of this, Jesus said offensive things—you have to take up your cross and follow me; you must lose your life to find it; the first will be last, the last first; you must hate your father and mother for Jesus’s sake—seemingly with the intention of driving the crowds away.

This is not the way the consumer mentality works!

No wonder. Jesus is not a flash in the pan. He isn’t a fad, a superstar to be quickly bypassed by the next American idol. He’s not playing the consumer game, vying for popularity. Simply put, popularity passes away, but Jesus—the exact image of the invisible God—is lasting. He is the great I AM, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

He was before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

He is the most sure, the lasting, truest, unwavering permanence imaginable. And then some.

No wonder people filled with the consumer mentality here in western societies have a hard time embracing Jesus.

No wonder Christians in places like Laos and Nigeria and Indonesia cling to Him in the face of persecution. The consumer mentality hasn’t blinded them to the genuine article. They know what they’ve found and they intend to hold on.

Published in: on November 17, 2014 at 6:43 pm  Comments (2)  
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President Obama, Impeachment, And Hitler

Shoes of victims of Auschwitz

Shoes of victims of Auschwitz

I couldn’t help myself. I was in the middle of a blog tour and needed to vent, so I turned to Facebook.

You see, a couple with “Impeach Obama” posters and pictures of the President with a Hitler-style mustache, planted themselves outside the US Post Office which I frequent. As I came out, they drew me into a conversation. I only intended to say they ought not use such slimy tactics to voice their disagreement. I figured they’d hear me because I began by saying I was not a supporter of President Obama.

While they didn’t defend the Hitler allusion, they did boisterously and rudely defend the impeach idea. Such nonsense. I had to rant.

But lo and behold, some of the comments I received on Facebook supported the idea that Mr. Obama should be impeached and some even that it was right to compare him to Hitler.

Support for this kind of character assassination and slander is horrifying to me.

President Obama has done nothing that would equate with what Hitler did. Some might suggest that the millions of babies aborted is absolutely a parallel with Hitler’s genocide. I wouldn’t argue that point, but the fact is, the decision was not President Obama’s.

Abortion has been the law of the land for more than forty years, so one President is not solely responsible for those deaths in the same way that Hitler was responsible for the six million Jews gassed in the extermination camps and the millions of Catholics, disabled, Gypsies, Slavs, Ukrainians, many of Germany’s own citizens, and civilians and soldiers all across Europe. In the abortion issue, if anyone’s to blame, we the people are for not voting a Constitutional amendment to prevent it.

Americans are rightly horrified at the beheadings committed by the ISIS soldiers. Multiply that by millions and you have an idea what Hitler was like.

It’s despicable to compare President Obama to that kind of violent, megalomaniac. What’s more, it’s slanderous, and therefore sinful. Yes, it is sin to say that President Obama has guilt for something he did not do.

Of course, someone might be speaking from ignorance. Perhaps they don’t know what Hitler put the Jewish people through—how he treated them like cattle and forced them to live in inhuman conditions until he came up with his Final Solution.

After the invasion of the Soviet Union, in June 1941 the Nazi government began to conceive of a plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler was the chief architect of the plan, which came to be called the Final Solution to the Jewish Question. (“Final Solution,” Wikipedia)

Suitcases of Auschwitz detainees (Auschwitz museum)

Suitcases of Auschwitz detainees (Auschwitz museum)

By the end of the war, Hitler and his henchmen had managed to kill an estimated two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe.

No, President Obama is not Hitler. To put the two names together is to slander President Obama and to denigrate the millions who lost their lives because of the Nazi power grab and subsequent effort at ethnic cleansing.

What’s more, people who make such connections between a despicable, violent, evil man and a President who holds to liberal beliefs, weaken any attempt to show voters why liberal politicians aren’t good for our country. The more unreasonable the opposition, the more likely reasonable people will assume all opposition has such illogical and irrational underpinnings.

Same for the impeachment issue. President Obama should not be impeached because he bombed Syria without receiving Congress’s declaration of war (the contention of the man in front of the Post Office). President Truman, President Kennedy, President Johnson, President Reagan, President Clinton are all former presidents who authorized military force in a foreign land without a Congressional declaration of war. President Obama is following precedent.

Further, on Facebook someone brought up the IRS scandal and the Benghazi attack and cover up. “If President Obama knew . . .” the comment read. Well, that’s it, isn’t it. Usually a person is not tried unless there’s some evidence that he took part in the crime. Until there’s an investigation that uncovers real criminal activity, such as the Watergate investigation turned up, or the evidence that President Clinton lied to the grand jury, then there is no grounds for impeachment. Hearsay, supposition, rumor—none of that provides legal cause for bringing President Obama to trial before the Senate.

But it gets worse. God tells us to honor our leaders. Honor! Not because the man is right or because we agree or we think he’s doing a good job. We are to honor him because of the position he holds as our leader.

It’s a fundamental attitude toward authority that we are losing in the US. The Bible tells children to honor their parents, but today kids disobey and backtalk, and society censors parents for spanking. Workers (servants) are told to do what our bosses say (masters is the actual term) not only when they are good and gentle but even when they are unreasonable.

And the admonition to honor the king came from Peter, for one, during the first century when Rome was hauling Christians into the coliseum and feeding them to lions.

Yes, this is counter-intuitive. And I certainly don’t expect non-Christians to get it. But the truth is, God is in control. God. And He has bigger things in mind than putting band-aids on a well-meaning but fading democracy in the US. Sure, it would be great if the US would be the shining city on a hill, but guess what? That’s actually the role God gave to the Church.

So ought we who profess faith in Jesus Christ as our resurrected Lord who we look to return in power and glory—ought we not be about His business? And how can we claim to be doing so if we spurn such a simple command as honor your king.

I mean, really. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean endorse him or approve of his wrong policies or agree with him when he says something harmful. It does mean we speak about him in a respectful manner and we pray for him—not just that he’ll fail, either—and we praise him when he does right.

If Christians are to be light to the dark world, we need to start with some of our most public expressions—showing that we would rather obey God than the impulses of our hearts.

Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 6:44 pm  Comments (5)  
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Jews And Jesus

Jewish_Pictures_Of_EthnicitySome months before the release of Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ, I began to hear that the Jewish community had serious concerns about the film. It seems they feared it would spark a new era of anti-Semitism.

I was astounded. I had no idea that “Christians” had been credited with instigating hate against Jews. After all, I grew up in a Judeo-Christian culture. I only knew of shared values and a determined stand against the Holocaust.

I learned that some “Christians” justified hating Jews because they had killed Jesus. It’s such an ignorant idea, I thought it had to be someone’s sick joke. But no, apparently this idea has a basis in history: some people waving the banner of Christianity turned against Jews because of the crucifixion.

In some ways, of course, the Jewish religious leaders responsible for convicting Jesus brought the accusation on their people when they told Pilate, who literally washed his hands of Jesus, that His blood would be on their heads and on their children’s heads (Matthew 27:25). But I always assumed that was either verbiage or calling down God’s judgment. I never imagined it to be an acknowledgment that would justify throughout history, profound racial persecution.

The idea of holding the entire Jewish race responsible for Christ’s crucifixion is ludicrous, and anyone following Him in truth would know this. First, Jesus Himself is Jewish. Not only was His mother a Jew, but He Himself said He was the fulfillment of the Law. That would be the Jewish law, given to Jews by God who chose the Jews to be His people–“the apple of His eye.”

Second, all the first Christians were Jews! Peter was a Jew, and so was Mary Magdalene, Salome, Stephen, Martha, Paul, Barnabas, Euodia, James, Jude, Synteca, Matthew, and countless others. A corollary to this point is that the vast majority of people in the Old Testament are also Jews.

Third, Jesus Himself called on God to forgive those who crucified Him. Did He mean only the Roman soldiers? There’s nothing to indicate Jesus intended such a limited understanding.

The greatest reason might be that the Christian understands he has been forgiven because of Jesus’s death on the cross. Without that sacrifice, we’d still be in our sins. If anything, we could see those responsible for His crucifixion as doing us a favor.

But the fact is, Jesus rose from the dead! He is alive today. So what’s the point of carrying a grudge against people, even if we did think they were responsible, when the act has been “undone”?

Besides, Jesus Himself said that no one was taking His life. He was laying it down. How can a people group be held accountable for that?

Finally, Scripture clearly indicates that Christ bridges racial divides. For example, Paul said in Colossians “there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all” (3:11). His Church–His family–consists of people from every tribe and tongue, including Jews.

The idea that Christians are against Jews as a people group is laughable. That some people want to lay that charge at the feet of Christians shows two things.

First, there are people calling themselves Christians who are lying. They aren’t following Christ, don’t believe in Him, and aren’t part of His Church. They are the proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are the weeds Jesus talked about in one of His parables, allowed to grow up alongside the wheat, that will be sorted out and burned up at the harvest.

In conjunction with these pretenders are those outside the Church who accuse Christians of hating Jews. They are speaking in ignorance of the facts, perhaps because they’ve listened to the pretenders instead of the historical record.

Have there been Christian bigots?

Sadly, yes. Like any other sin, Christians are susceptible to disobedience of God’s law and we are subject to our own lack of understanding. Hence, as hard as it is for me to understand, a Christian might wrongly accuse the entire Jewish race of killing Jesus, and he might even disobey God’s command to love enemies. But it’s a leap to say that Christians as a people hate Jews. In fact, such a leap is just as heinous as the one a pretender makes in arriving at the idea that Jews are responsible for Christ’s death.

The real problem is the generalization. Did some Jews falsely accuse Jesus and condemn Him? Yes. Does that mean that all Jews are guilty of a heinous crime and deserving of punishment? Not at all. Do some Christians act out of prejudice? I wish it weren’t true, but yes. Does that mean all Christians endorse such and share the responsibility for those acts? Not at all.

How is it that we have come to paint people groups as if they believe and act in concert, or as if they ought to? One of the beautiful things about the Church is God’s clear instruction that we are not all the same and yet that we are all important. My role, my gift given for the building up of the Church, is different from someone else’s. Scripture makes the analogy with the body. I may not be a foot, but that’s OK. What would the body be like if we were all feet?

Sin, of course, is a different matter. If a person in the church is a bigot, he ought to receive Church discipline–something that has been seriously watered down over the years. But that’s another whole blog post.

Published in: on April 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm  Comments Off on Jews And Jesus  
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