Tuesday, March 11, 2003


A can of worms was opened over at cut on the bias on the question of who was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. It all started with a rabbi's fear that Mel Gibson's new movie on the death of Jesus might actually mention that Jewish leaders were involved. To portray that wouldn't be 'helpful', you see.

The New Testament generally uses the term 'the Jews' when talking about those who were involved in plotting against Jesus. What is meant, by and large, was the Jewish political/religious establishment to whom Jesus was a threat. Jesus Himself was a Jew, of course. His apostles were Jews. The early church was composed entirely of Jews for some time. But that Jesus was rejected by the Jewish establishment is without question. The New Testament tells of their plot to kill Him and of His forcing their hand in that.

We must also remember the Roman involvement. The Sanhedrin turned Jesus over to Pilate, the Roman governor, as they did not have the legal right to execute someone. Pilate was reluctant to do it, but his hand was forced by the Jews who suggested Pilate's friendship to Caesar would be called into question. Pilate, on rocky political standing at that point, caved.

This is not to excuse Pilate, who was a wicked and cruel man. The point Scripture is making was the representative involvement of both Jews and Gentiles in the rejection and crucifixion of God's Son. Theologically speaking, everyone is responsible for Jesus's death. Those who commit apostasy, we are told, 'crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.' (Hebrews 6:6) There's plenty of responsibility to go around.

Paul (a rabbinically trained Jew) writes,
For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks seek for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.(1 Corinthians 1:22-24)

Jesus was not hostile to the Jewish law. He said, 'Do not think I came to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.' (Matthew 5:17) He is the Messiah, the Son of David, the culmination of all that God had promised.

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