“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.’ – Isaiah 55:8
It has often been the position of many Christians that the Jewish people have deservedly been dispersed from Israel and suffered for the last two thousand years because they refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah. But what if they had accepted him?
If the Jews had made Jesus their king in Jerusalem and he had not been crucified, the atonement for sin would not have been accomplished, nor would have the resurrection. Christianity simply would not have been born into the world, and salvation not come to the Gentiles.
But, insist many Christians, the fact that Jesus was betrayed by the Jewish leadership, and crucified, is crime enough to justify the long punishment of the Jews. Never mind that it was the cruel Roman occupation, not the Jews, that crucified Jesus, among many other Jews.
Another factor is that in Rome itself many non-Jews who did accept Jesus were persecuted and killed for their faith in him, even by hungry lions in the infamous colosseum. So it would seem that persecution is not necessarily a sign of theological error or of God’s disfavor.
The greatest irony, and tragedy, is that for much of the last two millennia it was the Church, the instrument intended to bring salvation and comfort to the lost, that most afflicted suffering upon the Jews in centuries of inquisitions, crusades, pogroms, expulsions, Replacement Theology, and the Holocaust inspired by the German reformer Martin Luther. And that was based, at least in part, with the idea stated above, that the Jews deserve punishment for their rejection of Christ. It was the Church’s long cruelty in the name of Jesus that has left a thick scar on the hearts of the Jewish people to this day.
Perhaps we have come to a juncture in God’s history, now that the Jewish people once again after two millennia have a state of their own in the very land from which they were dispersed, for Christians to help to heal those scars by showing true love in a spirit of repentance, and support for the hard-pressed and much aligned Jewish nation, as indeed some now are doing. Perhaps then the Jewish people may begin to understand the words of Jesus, “for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” – (John 12:47)