On the Cross: Easter and the Jews
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“Does Jesus forgive everybody?” I asked a crowd of about forty Christians gathered in a church a few years ago. I wasn’t surprised to find that all of them—except one of the pastors—answered positively. Over time I found that many congregations put emphasis on certain biblical texts while ignoring others. Jesus never forgave the Pharisees (nowadays rabbinical Jews); In Matthew Chapter 23, He is very sharp and clear with regard to their behavior. For the sake of clarity, I won’t bring here the whole list of citations on the issue, the point is that unrepentant Pharisees are not forgiven. Matthew 23:33 “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”
At Easter, when we remember His crucifixion, it is worth mentioning what is the most dramatic biblical instance of the issue. While on the cross, Jesus uttered seven sentences; all of them are significant. Two of them deal with the issue of forgiveness, each from a different angle. The extraordinary weight given to this issue cries for attention; the differences between the two are important. Unluckily, the words weren’t pronounced in Greek; the texts we read in the New Testament were said in a different language which uses different subtleties. Yet, if aware of this, we can see how Jesus was faithful to the message regardless of His suffering.
One way of looking at the Bible is as a book dealing with the justice of God toward us. It tells us how to behave properly. The rule is not complicated, it appears time and again and was beautifully summarized by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Thus, be nice.
However, this rule is presented in two ways. The first belongs to the Old Testament, the Old Covenant. This covenant is based on the Mosaic Law, the laws presented by Moses to the people in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. In my article The Blind Law I gave a more detailed explanation of the statement I’m about to make now: the Mosaic Law cannot be fulfilled. The harder you try to fulfill it the harsher your failure would be. It was designed in such a way in order to humble us, to force us to face a simple truth: we are sinners by nature. Jesus told the Pharisees—time and again—that they understood the impossibility of fulfilling the law and yet chose to follow this path and preached others to do so as well. John 9:40-41 “And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” Choosing this path leads to one result: God will judge those followers according to the Mosaic Law. All of them would be found guilty.
The other path belongs to the New Covenant made through Jesus. It presents the same formula: love God and the other. However, it is free from the strings of the Mosaic Law. Our hearts must lead us through this path; we must show we really care and not that we are making merely cold calculations of profits and gains. We must show we are little—human—versions of the Good Shepherd, sacrificing ourselves for the sake of others and God. If walking along this—narrow—path, then, when the Judgment Day arrives, we shall be forgiven, our sins thrown away to the deepest depths and forgotten. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Revelations 21:4).
This summary is what we need to know in order to understand two of the events while Jesus was on the cross.
Jesus was crucified with two malefactors. One of these recognizes Him and says in Luke 23:40,42 “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” In the very succinct way of this chapter we see here an act of regret for the past sins and of recognition of God. Jesus answer was immediate:
Luke 23:42-43 “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Immediate forgiveness. The second related event occurred a bit before that, when Jesus refers to those who crucified Him (Matthew 27:25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children). While referring to them Jesus said:
Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Subtle, but clear. Jesus had the full authority to pardon them, as he did later with the malefactor. Yet, He didn’t. He sent them to the Father, and God judges and condemns according to the Mosaic Law. In other words Jesus is clearly condemning them for their failure to show love and forgiveness. In other words: “you don’t show repentance, love and forgiveness? Then you won’t get any!”
All this is very simple. Yet, how come so many self-defined Christians support earthly Jerusalem, ruled by a violent cabal of Zio-Pharisees? Don’t they read the Scriptures? How can a Christian congregation define itself as Zionist and support anti-Christian behavior? Have they knowingly sold their souls to Satan?
Matthew 23:37-38 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
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