It’s making the headlines again, this question that never really goes away. The question of who’s to blame for the death of the one we call Messiah.
Israel Today posted an article quoting a poll conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). It seems that, in taking the temperature of Americans today, the poll tells us things are better now than they have been. Only 12% of Americans admit to being deeply anti-Semitic today; while in answer to another question, 26% of Americans believe Jesus was killed by Jews.
And that brings us to three important points we need to emphasize – and by doing so, maybe we can put this question to rest at last.
Let’s talk about what anti-Semitism isn’t, first of all. And what Jesus predicted about His own death, secondly, And then let’s look at what kind of difference His death makes to us today.
First, what anti-Semitism isn’t.
Readers may be thinking that if 26% of Americans hold Jewish people responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion, they are equally anti-Semitic as the 12% who blatantly identify themselves as being full of hate. And that makes this a critical issue for us to understand. Belief does not equal prejudice. You can believe a people group did something 2,000 years ago without hating everyone of the same nationality today. I can believe Jewish religious leaders arranged to have Jesus arrested, tried and killed without holding all Jewish people everywhere responsible. So on this first issue, deep-felt thanks to the ADL for asking both questions and making that distinction.
Our second point, then, is what Jesus Himself predicted about His death.
What? You mean He actually said something that didn’t sound anti-Semitic? Yes. He did. (On the contrary, He never said anything at all anti-Semitic. More on that in another article.)
So it turns out that, before He was arrested by religious leaders of His day, Jesus told His disciples what would happen…and made it crystal clear that He wanted it that way.
“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
What is He saying, exactly? If you’ll pardon the Christian-talk here, believers take it to mean God the Father commissioned God the Son to become a man so He could die. As offensive and disturbing as that is to many, the strange thing is that Jesus’ words seem to echo the same prediction made by the Jewish prophet Isaiah hundreds of years earlier. As recorded in the Tanach, Isaiah also predicted that Messiah would die.
Regardless of whether you agree with that, the great news here – for Jewish people especially – is that Jesus made it clear no one was killing Him without His consent. He said He was planning to die.
And for believers reading this, the question of what difference His death makes to us now should be obvious. IF John 3:16 is true – and we say it is – then clearly we needed Jesus to die. If He hadn’t been crucified, how would our sins have ever been forgiven? Without His death, where would we be now? Salvation through His death is about Jesus being our Passover Lamb. Just like the blood of animals on every Israelite’s doorpost back in Egypt protected them, and the angel of death passed over them, Jesus’ blood on the doorposts of our lives does the same thing.
So the question here is whether Christians should be focused on who killed Jesus — or whether we just need to be grateful that He died.
Which brings us to just one more point. (And it`s a good one.)
When Jesus was being tried and condemned to death, the crowd of onlookers supposedly said, `His blood be on us and on our children!`Sadly, we know that a supposedly Christian church spent close to 2,000 years making sure those words came true. Imagining they were acting on His behalf, they held all Jewish people responsible for the death of Jesus. In some of the most evil history ever recorded, `Christianity`took its revenge.
So my question for fellow Christians is this:
Do any of us believe the crowd`s words held more authority than what Jesus Himself said? Keeping in mind that He took all the responsibility for His own death ahead of time, that He predicted everything that was about to happen to Him, how could such a thought – or accusation against anyone else – make sense?