Vol. 8, No. 4
~ Page 13 ~
The average person who claims to be a Christian would probably answer that question, "The Jews crucified Jesus." And those who are a little more familiar with the Scriptures would quote from Acts 2:36, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified." It is concluded by most of us that this settles the matter when he says, "all the house of Israel" and then "ye crucified." It is clear that all Israelites are guilty of the crucifixion of the Lord!
Is it really? That conclusion does not necessarily follow from either the language or the biblical facts! Let us suppose you were talking to the U.S. Senate and said, "Let all the Congress know assuredly that many of the bills you have passed are no good," would that mean that "all the Congress" and "you" were the same group? Certainly not! The Supreme Court has legalized the murder of some unborn children. I say to them, "Let all the people of the United States know assuredly that these same babies you have authorized to kill are innocent." Is the expression "people of the United States" the same as "you" who authorized the killing of babies? I deny it! I am one of the "people," but I am not guilty of that!
Note a very important point. It is true and has always been true that a whole nation or race may suffer the consequences of the acts of its leaders, but that does not make the individual members of the nation or race guilty. A whole family may suffer the consequences of the wrong action by the head of the family, but that does not make every member guilty. In fact the whole human race has suffered the consequences of the sin of Adam, but that does not mean we are guilty of it!
This tragic and widespread habit of blaming a whole race or ethnic group for what some members of it did has caused untold harm to human relationships. "The Indian" (whoever he was) scalped "the white man," so the Indians should be killed or put on a reservation! "The black man" raped a white woman, so "black men" are hanged if they remain in this town past sundown. "We" have mistreated the "black man" by making a slave of him, so our property should be burned, looted or confiscated. We could go on with hundreds of such examples of tragedies created by this kind of thinking and acting. The chances are that most of the terrorist acts being perpetrated by various groups have their root in such thinking.
What is the truth of the matter? First, all guilt is personal and individual, not inherited. It is only collective in the sense that all those involved are a collection of persons. No Jew living today had anything to do with the crucifixion of Jesus, and none of our thinking and talking should so stereotype him.
When Jesus said in Matthew 16:2 that "He must go into Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, the chief priests and scribes, and be killed," he indicates some groups who had a part in his death. But we make a terrible mistake if we assume even then that all persons in those groups are thereby held responsible. When we find Jesus saying, "The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men and they shall slay him," are we to assume that because men killed him, all men are guilty of it?
In Luke 18:31, he says, "For He shall be delivered to the Gentiles and they shall scourge Him and put Him to death." In Acts 4:5-10 we find that "the rulers, elders and scribes" were accused of crucifying him. Acts 2:23 helps us to put it all in proper perspective when Peter says, "Ye by the hands of lawless men did crucify and slay." It was to the men of Israel who were listening to Peter who had delivered Jesus to the Gentiles to be put to death. Men of both groups were guilty. But not all men of both groups were guilty!
Annas, Caiphas and the mob of ungodly Jews who cried out, "Crucify Him!" were guilty. Herod, Pilate and all the Gentiles who had a part in it were guilty. But there were millions of Jews and Gentiles then and now who were not guilty. John, Nicodemus and the women at the foot of the cross, even though they were Jews, were not guilty. "The common people heard him gladly" (Mark 12:37), but a relatively small number of powerful Jewish leaders, along with a small number of wicked, spineless compromising Gentiles were guilty of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Instead of using language that implies that certain persons are guilty because they happen to be members of certain groups (in this case or in any other), let us recognize individual responsibility. Let us also be aware of the fact that we, as Christians, can be guilty of "crucifying the Son of God afresh, and putting him to an open shame" (Hebrews 6:6). In fact, our danger is greater in such a situation than theirs was in that day, for we may not be sinning in ignorance as they were (Acts 3:17). It will be more tolerable for them in the day of judgment, in that case, than it will be for us! Think on these things!