Anti-Semitism And Jesus
Anti-Semitism is hostility and discrimination against Jews as a religious and racial group. William Marr, a German agitator, coined the term in 1879 to label the anti-Jewish campaigns in central Europe, but long before, during the Middle Ages, Jews had already been denied citizenship, barred from office in government and the military, and excluded from many professions.
In 1066 during the First Crusade knights massacred Jews in Worms, Tier and Metz. False news that stated that Jews sacrificed Christian children in their rites during the Passover, combined with blaming them as an ethnic group for crucifying Jesus, led to mob violence and pogroms against them.
Using this culture fueled by lies and violence, Hitler preached hatred against the Jews and got German engineers to design the extermination camps of World War II. History urges us to carefully track what the New Testament actually states about who is culpable in the crucifixion of Jesus and more importantly, what God says should be done about the guilt.
In AD 33 when the Sanhedrin retrieved Peter and John from teaching about Jesus in the Temple and the Apostles stood before them, listen carefully to what these Jewish Galileans said.
“Leading them in, they stood Peter and John in the Sanhedrin and the High Priest questioned them. ‘Did we not strongly order you not to teach in this Name? But look, you’ve filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring upon us the blood of this man.’ Peter and the Apostles responded, ‘Is it necessary to obey God or men? The God of our Fathers raised up Jesus, the one you violently seized and hung on a tree. This one, the Ruler and Savior, God exalted to his right hand to bring repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these events and so is the Spirit of God, the One God gives to those obeying him.’” Acts 5:27-32
Peter doesn’t deny the historical realities that he, himself, witnessed. The Jewish High Priest in Jerusalem in 33 AD did accuse Jesus of blasphemy and with the approval of the majority of the Sanhedrin handed Jesus over to be crucified. Pilate, the Roman Governor, carried out the unjust sentence, and a crowd did pressure Pilate not to release Jesus (Acts 2:23, 3:12-16. 5:30). What did Peter say should be the response to this guilt?
As a Jew, he plead with his people to change their mind about Jesus, agree that his resurrection proved that he was the Messiah, and receive forgiveness.
If we genuinely know the biblical Jesus, we know that this internal response can never be forced by religious or political pressure. The biblical Jesus will have no part in using this kind of power.
LORD, the pride, jealousy, and hatred residing in my own heart put your Son on the cross. Help me to be clear in helping others understand why Jesus died and to respond in faith, but help me to always respect their right to decide without coercion.
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