Why did Jesus suffer? Who Killed Jesus Christ? How is anti-Semitism still in the world today?
I think that all of you have probably been aware of the release of the recent movie Passion of the Christ. Unless you have been living in a cave and completely cut off from the world you can’t help but know so much about this movie without having seen it. Some of you may have already viewed it. Others will yet view it. Some of you will choose not to see it. I haven’t seen it. I plan to see it, yet but to be honest with you I have mixed feelings about going to see it. I will see it probably to compare and look at it and see exactly how it has been done. But certainly it has stirred a great deal of debate and controversy in the public in our day and time over the question of Jesus’ death, the questions of who killed Jesus Christ. The Jewish community has been very disturbed that the movie would lead to increased attacks and discrimination against the Jewish people and dredge those feelings up. So there has been especially in some of the media centers of New York and Los Angeles a great amount of debate about that. And it just continues on. I have watched some this week, and there continues to be acrimonious debate about that subject and it just will not go away.
Recently in the European Union the union there held I believe a two-day conference on anti-Semitism. This was back in February. They held a conference on anti-Semitism to once again go over and look at it and make sure they are doing all they can to address that subject, because in recent years there have been a number of instances of attacks upon Jewish synagogues, and upon Jews, and graffiti, and some outright attacks upon people that have dredged up the fears once again of anti-Semitism. So the European community is especially sensitive to that, especially in France and in Italy where probably more of the cases have been come up.
So the big question that has come of this movie Passion of the Christ is really probably summed up in the question, who killed Jesus Christ. It is the central question. It is an age-old question, and one that you and I should stop and consider and look at as well. We do this every year. I think all of us somehow or other go across that question when we prepare ourselves to take the symbols of Jesus’ sacrifice and the covenant of renewal that we call the Passover every year in the days leading up to that. We ask ourselves what was our part, what part did we play, and where do we fit in that picture and story? Today the debate in the world and those who are concerned about some of the issues stirred by this movie ask, who killed Jesus Christ? Did the Jews kill Christ? Did the Romans kill Jesus Christ? Or did someone else kill Christ? That’s the question I would like to discuss with you this afternoon.
You may know the answer already. But what I am going to do is propose something to you, brethren, that you can think about as we go through some of these scriptures this afternoon, that is, that you think about as we get to the answer of who killed Jesus Christ. Because we probably already know the answer. But let’s think a bit about how we get to that answer. Perhaps that will help us view it from a different perspective and shed some more light on it and help even in our understanding of our relationship with God, and our part in the whole story that is so important to not just us but to the whole world.
First of all I would like to take you through a very quick study of some of the scriptures in regard to this question just so we refresh our minds on the scenario. If you will, please turn back to Mark 14. I am going to quickly go through some of the highlights of the scriptures here that tell us the story of Jesus’ arrest, his beating, what can be called the passion, the suffering, and his death. In Mark 14:43 Mark 14:43And immediately, while he yet spoke, comes Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
American King James Version×let’s pick up the story here. Immediately while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs came from the chief priest and the scribes and the elders. Now his betrayer had given them a signal saying, whomever I kiss he is the one. Seize him and lead him away safely. And so Judas came and he identified Christ with a kiss, and called him rabbi. They laid their hands on him, took himÉversus 47 One of those standing nearby drew a sword, struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. We know that was Peter. And as Mark’s account here records that story from Peter’s perspective, versus 48, Jesus answered and said, have you come out as against a robber with swords and clubs to take me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching and you didn’t seize me. But the scriptures must be fulfilled. And they all forsook him and fled. And so Christ was left on his own. In verse 43, they led him away to the high priest. With him were assembled the chief priest, the elders, and the scribes.
So here is the first gathering of the inquisition against Christ. And it is composed of the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem at this time in the first century, the high priest, the other priests, elders, and the scribes. We are told here Peter followed at a distance, standing with some servants warming himself at the fire. Verse 55, Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put him to death but found none. Many bore false witness against him but their testimonies did not agree. The method of how they actually had to accuse Christ is laid bare here as trumped up testimony. It was false testimony that they had to gather in order to convict him at least on their own basis and within their own law. Some rose up and bore false witness against him saying, we heard him say I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another made without hands. Now notice the gist of the accusation against Christ here from the Jews is in regard to the temple, which was of course their central control focus of worship. And he is being tried here in a sense according to Jewish law, Jewish custom, and his attacks in their mind against the temple, and that is the blasphemy part they are trying to bring upon him. That is going to be a whole different part of the accusation against Christ as opposed to what he is charged with when he is in front of the Romans. But the testimony did not agree.
The chief priest stood up and asked Jesus, do you answer nothing? What is it these men testify against you? He kept silent, answering nothing. Again, the high priest asked him, are you the Christ, the son of the blessed. Jesus said, I am, and you will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, what further need do you have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think? And they all condemned him to be deserving of death. So according to their law he was deserving of death because of his blasphemy. After this questioning this is the conclusion they came to.
Now notice over in Matthew 27:22 Matthew 27:22Pilate said to them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say to him, Let him be crucified.
American King James Version×. Here is another part of the picture here. This is when he was before Pilate. Pilate said to them, to the Jews after they had been given the choice of releasing a criminal or Jesus and they chose Barabas, What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? And they all said to him, let him be crucified. Then the governor said, why? What evil has been done? They cried out all the more saying, let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person. You see to it. All the people answered and said, his blood be on us and on our children.
Of course that is a very famous statement that has echoed down through history as an indictment, if you will, as it has been used wrongly so by many, to place the blame of Christ’s death solely upon the Jewish people. And this verse, this statement, which is a historical rendering of what they did say, at least has been used as justification in ages past for the persecution of one group of people for the death of Jesus Christ. It is a very strong statement but it has been used and in part is at the heart of anti-Semitism that has raised its ugly head many, many times over the years. But I think as we all realize, the Jews did not have the authority to kill those whom they had found guilty of crimes against their national religion and their law. They were under Roman occupation. Rome had appointed a governor to administer Roman rule, and it was Pilate that they had to come to, which they were here.
We’ll go to Luke’s account in Luke 23, and we will see it was not just Pilate that was involved, when they found that Christ had also been preaching in Galilee. In verse 6 of Luke 23, when Pilate heard of Galilee he asked if the man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew he belonged in Herod’s jurisdiction he sent him to Herod who was also in Jerusalem at that time. Pilate was governor in Judea. Herod was the Roman governor in Galilee to the north. So Pilate in that sense passes the buck here at this point. When Herod saw Jesus he was exceedingly glad for he desired for a long time to see him, and he had heard many things. He hoped to see some miracle done by him. Kind of like a sideshow. He questioned him with many words but he answered him nothing. Then the chief priest and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. Then Herod with his men of war treated him with contempt and mocked him, paraded him with a gorgeous robe, and sent him back to Pilate. That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other whereas previously they had been at enmity with each other.
So we see the two governors who are involved in this, in a sense in a kind of double condemnation upon Christ at this particular point.
We’ll go back to Matthew’s account, chapter 27, and pick up the story in verse 27. We will see again the well-known scene as Christ was then condemned by the Romans to subsequent scourging and attack by the soldiers. Verse 27. The soldiers took Jesus into the Pretorium and gathered the whole garrison around him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. And when they had twisted a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and a reed in his right hand, and they bowed the knee before him, and they mocked him saying, Hail, king of the Jews. And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him they took the robe off him, put his own clothes on him, and led him away to be crucified.
So it was the Roman soldiers who did this. They mocked him, scourged him, and led him to be crucified. I haven’t seen, as I said, the move, The Passion. I have seen the trailers, as many of you have, and from what I have heard the eyewitness accounts have been very gruesome in the depiction. Probably the most accurate and bloody that has ever been depicted of Christ’s suffering ever done by Hollywood, by a motion film producer, and certainly will probably for those who see it get the point across in a more graphic way than anything else ever has. Heretofore it has been left up to your imagination and mine to understand what took place. If you choose you can see that as it is reenacted in a movie form. It no doubt was a gruesome picture of torture and suffering that Christ went through.
Now we will go back to John 19, John’s account, we find the final scene of Christ’s crucifixion which also tells us something about the facts of the story, what took place. John 19:34 John 19:34But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and immediately came there out blood and water.
American King James Version×. One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear and immediately blood and water came out. And so we find in this verse the final thrust of a spear by an unnamed soldier that causes the last ounce of Christ’s life to come out. He was alive because blood would not gush out as this verse describes it without there having been pressure supplied by a beating heart. And so this spear thrust by this soldier is what finally ends his life and completes the sacrifice.
When we look through this historical record of the gospels we see that both the Jews, the Jewish religious leaders, held responsibility for the death of Christ, and the Roman governors, Pilate and Herod, held a responsibility because they condemned him to be put to death. They were the only ones who had that civil authority. And it was soldiers carrying out that sentence of beating and scourging him, and one who finally put a spear through his side which ended his life. And so the historical record from the gospel which is our basis for the whole story to even begin the discussion, it is very clear as to how it took place, who is responsible and what was there. As I mention, part of the fear, part of the concern and the debate that has gone on in recent weeks around this recent movie depicting the suffering of Christ and his death has raised again the discussion of the involvement of the Jewish people and fears of anti-Semitism. And brethren, we certainly know from a historical basis those fears are not unfounded. Now I have not seen those as yet. I don’t know that we will. I am not trying to make any predictions. But we all know our history. The history of the 20th century, the holocaust, and the millions, upwards of six million Jews who did die in the concentration camps of the Nazis. And we can go back even further in history. We can go back to Russia and look to the pogroms that were carried out under the czars against the Jews as well. We can go back to the time of the crusades and find the atrocities of Christian crusaders against the Jewish people as well, particularly in Jerusalem in 1099 when they finally conquered the city and the Christian crusaders who herded the Jews and Muslims into their various sections, the Jews into the synagogue. They shut the doors, locked the windows, and torched it with the Jews inside in mid July, 1099 AD. Those stories have come down through the ages, and they have been terrible. They have perpetuated the feelings of anti-Semitism that again in a legitimate way come out among those people when this issue is brought up by this particular movie. And again it is because of acts in Europe and certain areas in recent years people are worried, speaking of Jewish people.
A couple of years ago there was a spate of attacks in Europe and the chief rabbi of London, a man by the name of Jonathan Sacks, looked at all the graffiti smeared across the walls, and the bombings of synagogues and said, why is this happening? He said, if you talk long enough about killing Jews, one day it will happen, God forbid. And so they worry. And rightly so as we shall see, because those feelings are still there in many areas, still under the surface. Sometimes they break through. And I am fairly certain in the future we will see not just attacks against the Jews but even against those who seem to practice and look like the Jews. Revelation 12 tells us that. There will be state-sponsored power that comes against those who do keep the commandments of God and testimony of Jesus Christ. We have seen just a little bit of an inkling of that in our own time where people would call us Judaizers because we hold to the Sabbath and to the holy days. We can see just how close to the surface those feelings are in some quarters and among some people toward those who would hold to the law of God and seek to obey God according to the scriptures. So those fears are rightly there.
But the roots of anti-Semitism is more than just hatred for one group of people. Let’s explore that for a moment. Because when we look at the story, as we laid out the story here, we have seen Gentiles, Roman soldiers involved. And we have certainly seen Jewish religious leaders, and there were a few of them involved at that time as well. What else does the Bible tell us about this feeling for those who in a sense still have a form of worship of God. What do we learn? One thing we can see is the killing of Jews because of racial or ethnic intolerance predates even the first century period of the Romans. Turn if you will back to the book of Esther. I want to show you an example in the third chapter of Esther. For those of us who know the story of Esther, we know that it is a story set in the time of the Persian Empire, two empires before that of Rome. And we are dealing with the same group of people, the Jews, still captive. They had survived the Babylonians who were still there. The book of Esther tells us the story of one woman named Esther who found herself at the king’s court in a close and intimate relationship with the king, and she was a Jewess. The story in Esther is her courage to thwart the conspiracy that was brewing and about to take place that would have amounted to a Persian holocaust of a massacre of Jews.
In Esther 3 we find a statement that is made as to how this developed. The characters in Esther are Esther, her cousin Mordecai, the king Ahasuerus, and also another nefarious character by the name of Haman. And Haman somehow is elevated to a position where he is more or less the prime minister of the land. Esther 3:1 Esther 3:1After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.
American King James Version×tells us that the king advanced Haman and set him above all the princes who were before him. So he is kind of the king’s first minister if you will. He begins to wield a great deal of responsibility. The servants of the king within the gate bowed and paid homage to Haman. But Mordecai would not bow or pay homage. The king’s servants who were within the king’s gate said to Mordecai, why do you transgress the king’s command? It happened when they spoke to him daily that he would not listen to them. They told it to Haman to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand. For Mordecai had told them that he was a Jew.
And because of Mordecai’s strong feeling for the word of God, particularly the commandment against idolatry, he would not bow himself to this man and worship him in that way as Haman was wanting to be worshiped. Mordecai was holding to his principles, his faith, taking a stand.
Verse 5 tells us, when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath.
Can you imagine the amount of anger that wells up in the mind and one person’s heart to the point where as the story goes on he tries to engineer this holocaust, all because one man, one Jew would not bow to him. His anger is so strong. There is a modern counterpart to this in our time, in Adolph Hitler. And you see the speeches and video footage of his rantings and speeches and the manifestation of his anger as it was finally brought out in his anger for Jews carried out in the Holocaust. Perhaps then we can see a modern parallel to this type of anger that welled up in one person here, Haman, as he sought to exterminate the Jews in his time. The story of Esther shows us that did not take place. We will not take the time to go through all of that, but for God’s intervention through Esther it could very well have happened that this would have taken place. This was hundreds of years before Jesus Christ. That is the point we should draw when we see this planned attack and atrocity on one group of people, one surviving tribe of the nation of Israel, the tribe of Judah, who have maintained their identity, and of course have gone into captivity even through that. As we know even down to this very day because of the Sabbath and have maintained an ethnic identity, remarkably so, and that is remarkable in the historical story, but they have done so. But here we see this raging anti-Semitism, if you want to use that term, long before Jesus Christ, long before the time of the Jews of the first century.
Brethren, this hatred over, and expressed toward, one person or a grouping of people who want to obey God is even older than this story here in the book of Esther. Let’s go back to Exodus, chapter 5. this is the time prior to the Passover as God called Moses, raised him up, and Moses in his first appearance before Pharaoh asking for the release of the children of Israel, and seeing the reaction that he gets from Pharaoh. Exodus 5. Afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, thus saith the Lord God of Israel, let my people go that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, who is the Lord that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? In the land Pharaoh was Lord, God, worshipped as the representation of God on the earth. Whether he actually believed that or not we don’t know. Certainly his actions indicated that, but you know deep down in the heart of an individual like that who bleeds and suffers, you have to ask yourself, did those guys really believe they were God? I suppose some of them did. I would suspect some of them were cynical enough to not believe that. But Pharoah’s actions speak for themselves, at least his words do here, when he says, who is God? Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice, that I should acknowledge his will above my will? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go, is Pharaoh’s response. I do not know the Lord – that statement, brethren, gets closer to the heart of the question that we are looking at. I do not know the Lord. Therefore, as Pharaoh rationalized, I don’t have to obey him. I don’t have to acknowledge his will above mine. Because I’m Pharaoh, and I will do what I wish. The story in these chapters tells us what happened to Pharaoh when he would not acknowledge God and trusted in himself, and trusted in his sorcerers and magicians and his own ideas about the gods, and Egypt came down.
When we look at this, brethren, we begin to get an idea of a picture of God and his people and those who bear the name of the people of God. Some of the feelings that are expressed toward them, the roots of this feeling go even further.
When we go back to the story of the garden of Eden in Genesis 3 we find another picture. We’ll jump to verse 8. After they made the decision to take of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and they knew they were naked, verse 8 tells us that Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Ridiculous idea. But when you begin to get your focus off of God the human mind plays a lot of interesting games, and they felt they could literally hide from God and not be seen or found. And therefore they wouldn’t have any responsibility. They were ashamed because of their sin, and they hid themselves from God and from his presence.
Now turn forward, if you will, to Exodus 20. Let’s go back to the book of Exodus, because I want to show you how this peculiar trait that we first see in Adam and Eve comes out in the children of Israel. When they were brought before Mount Sinai, Exodus 20, the thundering and lightning that proceeded came after the giving of the law and they saw all of this. In verse 18, the people witnessed the thundering, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, the mountain smoking, when the people saw it they trembled and stood afar off. It is almost like hiding from God. It was more than they could really witness and see. They withdrew, probably hid behind some rocks. And they said to Moses, you speak with us and we will hear, but let not God speak with us lest we die. In a sense, they were hiding as well, and putting somebody else, Moses, in between them and God.
This is a human trait that, brethren, comes down to you and me today and helps us understand exactly where we fit in this picture of this question of who killed Jesus Christ. There was a book written a few years ago that had some remarkable insight into this whole subject. It was a book titled, The Gifts Of The Jews, written by a man named Thomas Cahill. As he was going through the story, the history of the Jewish people, he came to this section here in Exodus 20 and began to describe the story of Israel receiving the law on Mount Sinai. And of course, he is focusing only on the Jews and looking at all of the tribes under the title of the Jews, but we know that there were other nationalities within those tribes, there were other characteristics. They were not just one tribe, the tribe of Judah that God was dealing with. It was a composite nation. But Cahill talks in his book about the problem of anti-Semitism from a historic basis. He comes to this experience at Mount Sinai, the giving of the 10 commandments, and he paints a picture which indeed is rather stark, of God thundering these laws, lightning and thundering off the mountaintop, and a dramatic scene that caused Israel to shrink back. And 10 laws, 10 statements of conduct, 10 eternal laws of God, an unyielding moral code as he brings it out, were given to Israel. And he talks about the traditional depiction, especially of Jews, as stiff-necked and unyielding, and people who historically are portrayed as always seeking their pound of flesh. And he transfers that on to the Jews as a quality that justified many of the actions of hatred and murder against them down through the ages. And he makes this statement as he looks at this scene, as he looks at the people and what they are involved with and he says this. This is a quote from his book, “What is ghoulishly fascinating about the history of Christian depictions of Jews is that the people being excoriated are presumed to exhibit the unyielding qualities of God. As he looks at the giving of the commandments, these 10 laws, he looks at them in a sense as unyielding, and yes they are. Historically he is saying that has been put upon these people. And he says they exhibit the unyielding qualities of God himself, the same God that Christians claims to worship and the sacred scriptures they revere. A good case can be made that the historic anti-Semitism that has come down to us is a form of God hatred masquerading as self- justifying intolerance. The hatred of Christians for Jews may have its ultimate source in hatred of God, a hatred which the hater must carefully keep himself from knowing about. Why, he asks, would one hate God? To find the answer we probably need look no further than the stark unyielding 10 commandments.”
His point is that anti-Semitism, as it has been historically expressed, can be traced back to this scene in Exodus 20. And I think he makes a very good point, that the hatred against Jews is really nothing more than a human hatred against God. And these people are the only ones, in a sense, on the world stage that still can be traced to that point in time. They have borne that hatred. He said it is really a hatred for God. I think he has come closer than just about any other explanation I have read or heard to get at the heart and the root of this anti-Semitism. And if you look at how even the Israelites expressed themselves here when they withdrew, they said to Moses, you talk to God for us. And when Adam and Eve tried to hide from God, even those who have been closest to God, a nation and a people like Adam and Eve, and the Israelites, those with a special relationship, they have a problem maintaining that relationship with God, much less a whole world cut off from God, cut off from that relationship.
We come forward to the book of Romans, chapter 1. The apostle Paul I think summarizes this feeling quite well in chapter 1, beginning in verse 18. He talks about this feeling really of all mankind. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness and men who suppress the truth and unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them. For God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead so that they are without excuse. Because although they knew God they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts. And their foolish hearts were darkened. When they had the opportunity to know God and to glorify him, they didn’t. They rejected God and their hearts became darkened. Paul is very clearly saying that the true knowledge of God was available to the generations in the past from his perspective, and even forward and past from ours as well, and rejected through unrighteous conduct. God made himself known not just to Israel but to all mankind, to other nations in unmistakable ways, and was rejected. And in verse 28, as a result of that it says they did not like to retain God in their knowledge. And God gave them over to a debased mind to do those things which are not fitting.
And so this hatred for God is something that is at the heart and root of all human experience.
As this one writer, Thomas Cahill, brings it forward and applies it certainly to the Jews, and makes it very telling point, a hatred for God.
Let’s come back to the question, who killed Jesus Christ? We have seen it was not just one group of people responsible for Christ’s death. It was not just the Jews, or their leaders more specifically. There were Gentiles involved. There were Roman governors and Roman soldiers that were involved. Prior to that there were Persians who were going to be involved. And there were Egyptians before the Persians who conspired to kill those chosen by God to bear his name and his way. But when we come down to the days following Christ’s death and his resurrection, and his disciples thought it all through and came to understand a most profound and shocking reality of the ages as they watched the resurrected Christ interact with them, as they had seen him die and come back to life, those who had been touched by the Word, the son of God, who watched him be beaten and killed, came to understand their part in this event, in his death. Peter was the one who very eloquently spoke the words in the second chapter of Acts that come down to us today. Acts 2. In this sermon on the day of Pentecost, he gives a historical panorama of history. He brings it down and essentially shows that this Jesus who had been murdered indeed was the son of God. There were enough witnesses around who could remember the event on the day of Jesus’ death. Clouds darkened, the veil in the temple was rent, and graves were opened. People got up out of those graves and walked into town. And they were seen by their family and friends. So there were hundreds and thousands of people who had witnessed the supernatural events on that day. Christ was seen by hundreds after his resurrection. This was not something done off in a corner. There were seven weeks to come down to this point where Pentecost was being celebrated in the temple mount area, and off in a corner these followers of Jesus were gathered, led by Peter as he stood up to give this sermon on this day after this dramatic display of tongues, fire, and speaking in languages took place. And he gives this powerful sermon. The people who were there who had been eyewitnesses of those events, and more interestingly, people who had not been eyewitnesses who had come in from Corinth, Alexandria, Rome, other parts of the empire. They had made their pilgrimage to keep the feast on this day. They were there from other parts and were hearing about these events. They were hearing the story, and then they hear this sermon, and it was dramatic. It comes down to verse 36. Peter said, therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ. And he looked at the crowd and said, you crucified this man. Let everyone know, keep in mind that he was speaking to people who had not even been in town the day Jesus died, and he said, You killed Jesus Christ. You had a part in that. They heard this and were cut to the heart. They said to the apostles, men, and brethren, what shall we do? And that question echoes down through the ages to you and me. Because we have to be confronted with the same reality, and we ask the same question, what do we do? And so we repented and we acknowledged our part through our actions spiritually in the death of Christ. Because you and I weren’t there either. No more than the Jews from Alexandria who heard these very words, but yet were cut to the heart. They weren’t there. They didn’t spit on him. They didn’t witness it, standing by and not lifting a finger. Peter said they were guilty, they were responsible, they had a part.
We read this ages later and we feel the same conviction because of God’s Spirit on us. We recognize that because of our sins he had to be wounded. And we go back and we learn that the words back in Isaiah 53, he was wounded for our transgressions, it says exactly that. So we come face to face with that. At some point in your life you knew you had a need to be forgiven for all the sins you had committed without knowing the law of God. Not knowing the truth and the way of God. You came to a point, being led by God’s Spirit, to that conviction and you sought forgiveness. That is why a minister of God laid hands upon you that signified the giving of the Holy Spirit, the power of God. Each year when we gather on the Passover service we have examined ourselves and come to the point where we realize our needs over again. And in the quietness of our homes and thoughts and hearts, brethren, we realize that Peter’s words still speak to us. And so as I said at the beginning, we know that. We know the answer. We knew the answer when I first asked it a the beginning of the sermon. But I said let’s look at how we come to that conclusion. And that is really the point as we prepare ourselves each year to take the Passover, as we think about these scriptures and this momentous event. We need to realize that we were like a group of Jewish elders who put their will, their position, and their identity before the identify of the Messiah before them. We were like a Persian prime minister who would achieve his life’s dream and his ambition of getting right up next to the king and wielding power, and his first act was to wipe out anyone who did not bow down to him and acknowledge what he had accomplished. We are like a Pharaoh who said, I don’t know God. Why do I need to obey him? They were all guilty of idolatry in their own time and way. One of them literally probably thought he was God. Another thought that because he had reached a high position in the political world he too was like a god. And the Jewish leaders, because they ministered at the temple, were the highest religious office of the people, the special people of God, they too thought they were in some way better than the others, better than this man who had pointed out how weak and insignificant they really were. And they had put themselves before God. When you and I put ourselves before God in anything that we do, when we forget that we need to obey God, and acknowledge his presence every day of our life that we owe our life to him, we forget that and we begin to act on our own will too much, when we do not acknowledge God we are in danger of walking down the hallways and idols and temples of our mind and bowing to our own self-made idols . When our actions of sin cause us to actually commit a sin, we are really saying for that time and in that place and in that moment, we are really saying I don’t know him, just like Pharaoh said. And it may be something else. It may be certainly the Spirit of God working through and on our mind, it may be a sermon or sermonette or a comment by a member, or again God’s Spirit working in whatever way to bring us back to reality that what we have done is a sin and we need to change. When we come to those moments, those crossroads in our life, that we recognize we are just as guilty as Haman, Pharaoh, a high priest, or a Roman soldier who has put a spear through the side of Christ, we need to repent because we are just as guilty of idolatry in our own time and in our own way as anyone of any past age. And when we come to that point we understand that indeed we do have a part in that age-old question of who killed Jesus Christ. And it comes home to us. And when we come to the point where we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, just like Peter came to say, and seek his grace, repent of our pride, seek a humble spirit, and it is then that we come face to face with Christ of the book of Hebrews, what he did for us, and better understand what he is doing for us today.
Hebrews 12:1 Hebrews 12:1Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
American King James Version×. Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith. And that most comforting and encouraging thought from Paul’s writings here comes back to us. When we come to that point brethren where we are looking unto Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith, which means he will bring it to fruition, He is there to do that. Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. And that encourages us and helps us and brings us back to the reality of our life and our relationship with God today. Because this verse stands for so many others in this book especially that shows us that Jesus is our high priest, who suffered and knows our plight, knows our weaknesses, and knows how easy it can be to give in, though he didn’t. Because he suffered we have the ability to call upon that grace from him. And then it helps us to move away and beyond the question of who killed Jesus Christ. Because we know that. We know we have our part in that. We know where we stand with Christ in that awesome plan. And when we come to that point, brethren, then we can look to God each day, to keep acknowledgment before us of our need for him in our lives. Not to be moved beyond that by any current media extrapolation of that idea, to be anchored firmly to the scriptural truth we have. He gives us an understanding, a hope, the ability to properly take that Passover with joy and a deep feeling of appreciation for what Jesus Christ did for every one of us.