When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. (Mat 27:24-25 KJV)This was the verse that was omitted in the movie ‘The Passion Of The Christ’, or was it? Actor/producer Mel Gibson, when confronted with the very real possibility of anti-Semitic fervor arising from the film elected to drop the subtitling for that particular line. But being a purist, desiring to produce an accurate as possible a portrayal of the last hours of Jesus’ life before His crucifixion, allowed the line to remain spoken. If the average viewer could understand Aramaic, now a dead language, one would be able to hear the infamous words ‘to aima autou kai epi ta tekna hmwn’.
This has sparked a firestorm of controversy amongst the liberal media critics. Their hypocrisy has never been more transparent. They cry, ‘what about the Jews? Won’t this fuel the fires of anti-Semitism?’ The irony cannot be ignored, for it is the same media who continually place an anti-Semitic spin on news reporting from the middle east. Whatever their agenda may be, they may have actually done those of us who believe in Jesus, a great favor! This is a great opportunity to share the Gospel.
Are the Jews responsible for the death of Christ? It’s a fair question. They were there, as was Jesus (Himself a Jew), as was Pilate and the Romans, and the Herodians. The answer, simply put, is yes. The Jews are indeed responsible for the death of Jesus. There. Now it’s said, and I’m not sorry having said it. But before you relegate me to the ranks of racists and bigots, please read on. If after you have finished you still think me prejudiced, then think what you will.
You see, the question lies not in who killed Jesus, but rather, who is to blame. The answer to the first question is nobody. He had taught this to his disciples earlier in His ministry speaking of His life:
No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:18 KJV)Jesus in a candid moment with Pontius Pilate reveals this fact in a most personal manner:
Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. (John 19:10-11 KJV)In these two passages, He reveals the truth to both Jew and Gentile. Nobody killed Jesus. He willingly laid down His life. Why would he do this? My wife relates to me that before she was saved, well meaning Christians would tell her, ‘Jesus died for you’. As an unsaved person, this puzzled her. She felt somewhat touched by the sentiment, but until she was saved, she never understood why He would do that. Perhaps you, the reader, share in that confusion.
The answer goes all the way back to the beginning. When God told Adam and Eve that they could eat of any tree in the garden save just one, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he forewarned them of the consequence of any disobedience on their part. As we know, they disobeyed and brought death and destruction to the family of man. Death, as we know it seems limited to the cessation of bodily functions, but from God’s perspective, it is eternal separation between Him and mankind. Man’s loss was great. The only solution could be a substitutionary, sinless sacrifice. But God, not to be caught unawares had a plan in mind all along, for he gives a promise concerning the woman, her Seed and Satan:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Gen 3:15 KJV)This is a scene we see dramatized in the opening scene of the film. Jesus is depicted stomping the head of a serpent. He was on a mission from the Father.
Now back to the question, are the Jews to blame for Jesus’ death? Yes, as are the Romans and the Herodians. All peoples of the world were represented there that day. The Jews were guilty. The Gentiles were guilty. You and I are guilty. It is said that Mel Gibson answered this charge in perhaps his only appearance in the film. In the scene where the nail was placed in the palm of the Savior and hammered to the wood, that was Mel’s hands bearing the iron. It was his way of saying ‘It was MY sins that placed Him on the cross’.
Yet, there is another irony at work here. That controversial verse that was dropped from the subtitling bears closer examination.
His blood be on us, and on our children.This was shouted arrogantly by the Jewish religious leaders, presumably on behalf of the Jewish nation. This was foolish as well as presumptuous. There were many, many Jewish followers of the newborn Christian faith. In it’s early days, the Church was comprised entirely of Jews. Caiaphas and the other leaders, unwilling to accept Jesus as the Christ, called His Blood down upon their heads as a curse.
But as believers, that Blood is something we want upon our heads and those of our children. For as the redeemed, it is safety, rest, and redemption that we find under that Blood covering, not a curse. We sing songs like ‘O the Blood of Jesus, it washes white as snow’, and many others, because we believe there is ‘Power, wonder working power, in the Blood’. What was spoken so long ago as a curse by evil men, we seek as a blessing. The message of the Blood should never be diminished. It should be pled daily over our lives and the lives of our children.
A simple personal illustration to the absolute power of the Blood covering is this: My family and I had decided to take a day in the country and have a picnic. We drove not far away to the mountains where there was a nice little park with a picnic area and a playground. We arrived, got our things spread out and was enjoying ourselves. Another party of picnickers arrived at the space next to us. Within minutes, the peace was shattered. They were loud, obnoxious, and obviously inebriated. The language and filth that issued forth from them was discomforting and embarrassing. To make matters worse, they had the car stereo cranked up playing some new-age chant music. This went on for perhaps ten to fifteen minutes, while they very methodically got out all the accouterments of picnicking. Needless to say, I was seething in one of my more fleshly moments. Wives are often the wiser creatures in such situations. She simply, quietly began pleading the Blood of Jesus over us. That would have been sufficient, I believe. But not to be outdone, I actually pled the Blood over them. It was as if the woods were suddenly ablaze. Without any spoken agreement, they literally threw their belongings into their vehicles and bawled their tires getting out of there. Something supernatural took place that day.
If God cared that day enough for us to preserve our peace and tranquility, to answer a plea for the Blood, how much more does He care for the weightier issues in life. He cares immeasurably about the things that overly concern us, health, well being, yes even wealth. He cares the most about our spiritual well being and our eternal future. It was the focal point of His Son’s mission to earth. The problem is, we often forget the Blood, and fall prey to the petty arguments of petty people seeking to divert blame to the Jews. We are all to blame, but paradoxically, we who believe have access to blessing because of the blame.
As we head into the Easter season, let us reexamine the roots of our faith. Let us daily renew the plea for the covering of His Blood. Let us lavish in it. It is there for us, and it never runs dry.