February 9, 2004

God's Sacrifice
"Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him 
to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt 
offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his 
days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his 
hand" (Isaiah 53:10).

Over the past few weeks, I have been sharing a 
particular concern regarding Mel Gibson's upcoming 
film, "The Passion." Some people feel that the 
depiction of the Jewish people in the movie will 
result in increased anti-Semitism. My heart has been 
heavy as I have been reading a variety of articles 
addressing this issue. I find that on one hand there 
is, on the part of some Jewish people, a lack of 
understanding regarding the Gospel story, and on the 
part of Christians a lack of sensitivity to the 
centuries old abuse of the Jewish people in the name 
of Jesus and the Church.

The Jewish people's understanding of the New Testament 
arises out of almost two thousand years of the 
Church's ongoing refusal to recognize the place of 
Israel in the plans and purposes of God. The result of 
this is a repulsion to anything from the New 
Testament. Since Christianity claims that this 
document is its authority, some conclude that it must 
be a book that promotes hatred toward the Jewish 
people.

While many Christians have renounced the ancient anti-
Semitic teachings of the Church, there is a tendency 
among Christians to think that the words of the New 
Testament can stand apart from years of 
misapplication. There is also a hesitancy to accept 
that, even among well-meaning people, there still is 
anti-Jewish sentiment in the church, both conscious 
and unconscious.

Somehow we need to understand what was really going on 
in those last twelve hours of Yeshua's life, 
regardless of Mel Gibson's or anyone else's version. 
Last week, we looked at how since Yeshua died for the 
sins of the world, we are all to blame for his death. 
But that is not the whole truth. The Old and New 
Testaments are clear that the mission of the Messiah 
was a mission of sacrifice. Because of our need of 
reconciliation with our God, he himself determined to 
meet that need by sending his own Son as a perfect and 
effective sacrifice for sin.

God used our intolerance of godliness as the 
instrument of sacrifice. Our rejection of the Messiah 
is in keeping with human nature, but God knew what he 
was getting into when he sent Yeshua.

Yeshua fully cooperated with God's plan. He himself 
declared:

"The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my 
life--only to take it up again. No one takes it from 
me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have 
authority to lay it down and authority to take it up 
again. This command I received from my Father" (John 
10:16,18).

The giving up of Yeshua’s life was initiated by God, 
because he loves us. It was his death that opened the 
way for us to receive eternal life.

Therefore we have no right to blame anyone or any one 
people group for Yeshua’s death. Once we realize that 
it is for each one of us that he gave himself, then 
each one of us may find ourselves able to accept our 
responsibility for his rejection.