Good Jews

Anti-semitism is always raising its ugly head in modern society, all too often in the form of the tired old lie, “the Jews killed Christ”.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. “The Jews” during Jesus’ lifetime probably heard very little of this itenerant preacher from Galilee. Those who did probably reserved “in their hearts” the points they thought worth pondering, and made a prudent judgment about his character and claims at some unknown later period. And much later, when some of Jesus’ disciples began to claim that their master had ascended to heaven and was sitting in God’s Judgment Seat, Jews living in Judea at that time would have had some startling new ideas about Jesus to consider and react to.

In any case,The Gospels are clear that “the Jews” collectively are not to blame for Jesus’ execution. In fact, the Gospels explicitly name Jesus’ executioners mostly as influential members of the priesthood and certain scribes… and of course the Romans. Thus both “ethnicities” – Jewish and Gentile – had a hand in Jesus’ death. Which is simply to say, theologically, that “we all killed Christ by our wickedness”. But the Gospels do not blame ethnicity for Jesus’ death: they blame human evil and sinfulness, presenting the interpretation that Jesus’ death was an atonement for ALL human sin, regardless of ethnicity and religion.

Anti-semites are fond of citing Matthew 27:25, “Then all the people answered, saying, ‘Let his blood be upon us, and upon our children’ “,  mistakenly taking this to mean that “ALL” the Jewish people uttered this sentiment.

This is glaringly wrong, since Matthew’s “people”, “crowd”, and “multitude” do not – cannot – refer to the entire Jewish people – for the simple reason that this text refers only to the small fragment of people who had crowded into Pilate’s courtyard. Even at that, these were not necessarily the anti-semites’ much-vaunted “Jews against Jesus” … because as Matthew 27:20 says, it was “the chief priests and elders” who “persuaded” this small gathering to choose Barabbas over Jesus. The entire scene was, according to Matthew, a put-up job by the priests, not an action undertaken by “the Jewish people”.

Moreover, Matthew 26:3-5 states that Jesus was so popular with his own (of course, Jewish) people that the “priests, scribes and elders” were afraid to arrest Jesus for fear of creating “an uproar among the people”. What people? The Jewish people of Jerusalem and the Jewish people of Galilee who had come south to celebrate the Passover. Nowhere does Matthew suggest that “the Jews” were collectively responsible for Jesus’ execution.

Mark 14:55-59 shows that at Jesus’ trial, some “false witnesses” were brought in to condemn Jesus, but their testimony conflicted and was worthless. Moreover, Mark explicitly states that “the chief priests and all the council sought for witnesses against Jesus to put him to death; but found none“. That is, no valid Jewish witnesses recommended Jesus for execution. Again, “Jewishness” and “the Jewish people” or “the Jews” did not condemn Jesus, but only certain politically-motivated collaborationist priests who were inseparably entwined with Roman rule.

Luke 23:27 claims that many Jews took pity on Jesus and openly supported him on the way to Golgotha:

“And there followed him a great company of people – and of women, who also mourned and lamented him.”

What “great company”? What “people”? What “women”?
Answer: all were Jewish people. Enough said.

Those who insist that “the Jews” crucified Jesus, are obviously scripturally and historically ignorant, as well as being consorts of the hate-mongers. Knowing full well that only a tiny fraction of an elite Jewish aristocracy – a collaborationist group of Rome-supporters – were agents of Jesus’ execution, these ferocious anti-semites continue to broadcast their old lie that “the Jews killed Christ”. One can only stand aghast at the abysmal hatred and willful ignorance of such intellectual and moral cowards, and work toward quashing the lie every time it is disseminated.

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