When it comes to the great debate on who was responsible for the death of Jesus, the Lord took that decision on Himself. “No one has taken it (life) away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” (John 10:18)
Because Jesus made that public statement, you would think that would be enough for those who profess to be His followers. Sadly that is not the case but maybe we are on the way to a breakthrough.
Pope Benedict XVI may not be the chosen champion of the world’s Protestants but he has become the first Pontiff to personally and biblically exonerate the Jews for the death of Jesus. In a new book ‘Jesus of Nazareth – Part II’, Benedict announces there is no scriptural basis for any other conclusion.
Of course, church leaders and theological fathers have announced and enforced otherwise for centuries. It was the callous, arrogant and unbiblical charge against the Jews that unleashed the horrendous bloodshed and persecution of anti-Semitism.
History has been forever tarnished by hatred spewed from the mouths of those who professed to be followers of The King of Peace – The God of Love.
Los Angeles Rabbi Marvin Heir of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (LA) described the publication as ‘critically important.’
“Jews suffered historically for over 2,000 years — the call of Hitler and all the anti-Semites were that the Jews were an accursed people because they are responsible for the death of Jesus,” he said.
Heir described the significance of the exoneration coming from a German Pope at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise.
“To have Pope Benedict say that the Jews bear no guilt whatsoever for the death of Jesus is one of the most critically important statements ever made by a pope,” Heir told CBS Los Angeles. Rabbi David Rosen head of the interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee said the Pope’s words would make a lasting mark.
There is something of an ironic twist that this Pope is the one making such a definitive theological declaration. As a child, living in Germany he was forced to join the Hitler Youth and no doubt was inundated with Nazi propoganda.
During his Papal term Pope Benedict XVI has worked to improve relations between the Catholic Church and Jews.His new book deals with the final hours of Jesus.
He said the death of the Lord was not about punishment but salvation. That blood, he said, ‘does not cry out for vengeance and punishment, it brings reconciliation. It is not poured out against anyone, it’s poured out for many, for all.”
Sadly there are so many who prefer to scapegoat the Jews, rather than admit it was my sin and theirs that nailed Jesus to the Cross. That is why we can sing ‘Amazing Grace’ and mean it.
Christ died voluntarily for our sins.
1 Corinthians. 15:3 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”
There’s a darn good reason why our motivation should be love and not hate.
Ephesians. 5:2 “…walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
I hope and pray we will enter an era when the Jews really experience ‘a fragrant aroma’ from those who proclaim to be disciples of the King of kings and not the obnoxious stench they have had from so many of us for two thousand years.