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What Would People Think?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Some Musings on the Crucifixion, Christians, and Jews

Just got back from a Maundy Thursday service. Basically, it's a celebration of Christ's Last Supper with his disciples and, in some churches, kind of stands in for a Good Friday service.

Hearing the Scripture readings about the Crucifixion, I was struck by the juxtaposition of 2 verses: "His blood is on us and on our children" and "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

The first verse has been the basis for the centuries of anti-semitism via the detestable doctrine of "blood libel." Basically, Christians took it upon themselves to not forgive that which Jesus himself asked God to forgive. Using the "on our children" language, Christians blamed the entire Jewish people for Jesus' freely-chosen death and persecuted them the most un-Christ-like manner possible.

But the blood libel doctrine misses the point.

As, of course, did the people standing around calling for Jesus' death. Many sermons have been preached on the observers of the Crucifixion and their mocking call to "Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!" What those people didn't get was that he could come down at any time...but he didn't need to prove himself to them or anyone. He was there to do God's work and save the world, and no arrogant mockery was going to stop him. What the people didn't realize was that, in what seemed to them his moment of ultimate defeat, Christ won his greatest victory....striking the ultimate blow for love over hate, sin, and death.

In the same way, both the mockers at the cross and the anti-semitic teachers of "blood libel" entirely miss the point. You see, because of Jesus's plea to God to forgive his persecutors, they couldn't even call on themselves the guilt they asked for! They were powerless even to condemn themselves...at the very moment they thought they had the power to condemn Jesus. It's obviously ridiculous to blame the entire Jewish people for the actions of a few people thousands of years ago. What's less obvious is that we can't even condemn the very people who called for Jesus's death! Jesus already forgave them in the midst of the act.

Come on, all you anti-semitic Christians. You really want to go toe-to-toe with the Son of God on this one?

What a model of love we have to follow! I don't know about you, but I might find it hard to forgive my murderers. But I'm inspired to try to love that much.

[Coming soon: non-religious songs and religious poetry. Or maybe vice versa, if I feel like it.]


  • If you can get past numerous instances of outright (and admittedly hilarious) blasphemy, you might appreciate the "South Park" Easter special that aired on Wednesday. Toward the end, Jesus himself appears to Christian leaders and tells them that they are going about things the wrong way. In response, they have him arrested because his viewpoints threaten the Church.

    That's what I thought of when you wrote, "You really want to go toe-to-toe with the Son of God on this one?" Because the truth is that it often seems like the answer from many Christian leaders is, "Yes, we do, because Jesus's teachings are contrary to our own goals."

    Which is, of course, one of many reasons I and doubtless many others fell out of faith. But it's also the reason why I'm glad there are still people within the church who embrace the teachings of Christ rather than the manipulations of those teachings by the men who have followed.

    Happy Good Friday. :)

    By Blogger Mike, at 4/06/2007 10:29 AM  

  • That South Park episode sounds like a scene from The Brothers Karamazov, a book by Dostoyevsky (sp?).

    By Blogger Ben, at 4/06/2007 11:22 AM  

  • It was actually a parody of The DaVinci Code. While I wouldn't be surprised if the South Park guys have actually read Dostoevsky (the other acceptable spelling), somehow I don't imagine The Brothers Karamazov claims that the reason the Easter Bunny exists is because Saint Peter was, in fact, a rabbit. (Peter Rabbit, get it?)

    By Blogger Mike, at 4/06/2007 3:47 PM  

  • The first thing I thought of when I read the South Park description was also Brother's K. Of course, the rest of the book is pretty much a refutation of that idea.

    By Blogger Matthew B. Novak, at 4/06/2007 7:04 PM  

  • "I can come down from the cross any time I want to. I just don't feel like it!"

    "Do it, then."

    "I could."

    "Could not!"

    "Could, too!"

    "Could not!"

    "Shut up! I'm telling my Dad about you!"

    By Blogger Barzelay, at 4/06/2007 10:49 PM  

  • OK, I'll admit it...I actually laughed at that.

    By Blogger Ben, at 4/07/2007 11:14 AM  

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