Seeing Christ in Others--Part 3, Subway Holiday Greetings
Dec 13, 2007
Today's news tells about an incident in a New York subway where someone said "Merry Christmas" to a stranger, and the stranger's response was "Happy Hanukkah." He was then physically attacked as if he had insulted his mother. The article says,
"Two women who were with a group of 10 rowdy people then began to verbally assault Adler's companions with anti-Semitic language, Hellerstein said.
"One member of the group allegedly yelled, 'Oh, Hanukkah. That's the day that the Jews killed Jesus,' she said."
The three Jews were then attacked, and the only one who came to their defense was a Muslim from Pakistan. What irony!
I wish that Christian religionists would actually come to know Jesus and understand His mind and character. If they would portray Him more accurately, who knows, Jews would see Jesus in a whole different light and may come to know Him as well.
Such actions (as reported above) seem so foreign to me. I cannot imagine anyone actually saying and doing this. But I do know about such things, because I have studied Church history. One can see how Christian attitudes changed over the centuries. In the first few centuries, the Christian writings simply presented the truth that Jesus was crucified, not at Hanukkah, but at Passover. They show that Jews were the ones who did this, not because they wanted to malign Jews in some way, but because it was prophesied in Scripture that the Sacrifices had to be made by Aaronic priests.
Though many may disagree, let us say that the crucifixion was the greatest evil ever done. How should we react to this? Should we seek to punish Jews for "killing our God"? Should we call all Jews "Christ-killers"? Well, first of all, I would not want to be held accountable for some of the things that were done by some American presidents who were of my own race. I would not want to be held accountable for the current practice of waterboarding, even though I remain an American citizen. Get my point? "Do unto others . . . etc."
Not all Jews were responsible for Jesus' crucifixion. Their responsibility is proportionate to their actions and/or knowledge (Luke 12:47, 48). Most know only what their leaders have told them--as do most Americans and Christians. Hence, the subway girls in the article above were probably acting upon what their particular clergymen had told them. They too are ignorant of Christ Himself and certainly cannot see Christ in a Jew. Christians in general often lack the ability to see God in any one or in any circumstance that they consider to be evil. They have no concept of God's sovereignty. They see history only as a great conflict of Good vs. Evil, God vs. Satan, and Light vs. Darkness. They are, in essence, Persian Dualists in their basic "Christian" philosophy.
But the Bible presents God in a different way. When He planned world history, He decided at the beginning to take responsibility for creation's sin. And so, He told the prophets of His intentions throughout history. He hinted of this to Adam in Gen. 3:15. He revealed much more to Moses through the sacrificial system--where an innocent lamb was killed on behalf of sinners. He expounded upon it further in Isaiah 53.
What more proof do we need that Jesus' crucifixion was part of the divine plan from the beginning? Should we heap blame upon Jews (specifically the descendants of Aaron) for being called to perform the sacrifice? There are two great wrongs that men do with this. One side blames the Romans, and the other side blames the Jews. Neither side is correct without seeing God in the situation. The fact is, the crucifixion ultimately was GOD'S FAULT. He is the One who planned it from the beginning. He is the One who prophesied it and ultimately fulfilled His Word. Without seeing this, we can only see a half-truth at best.
Those who go around calling Jews "Christ-killers" only add to the problem of evil in the earth. They make it easier for other well-meaning Christians to blame the Romans. They make it doubly difficult for me to teach the Scriptural view that the Levites had to do it in order for the Sacrifice to be acceptable to God. The anti-Jewish epithets cause many people to assume that I am trying to heap blame on all Jews for Christ's crucifixion. I get thrown into the same basket with the subway hooligans. How could Jews possibly believe anything different?
What I find amazing is when a Jew comes to Christ in spite of all of this garbage. In past centuries the Roman Church found it "necessary" to convert Jews by force, and even by torture, because, after all, none of them would have wanted to become a Christian religionist on their own. There were too few Christians that they would have wanted to emulate. Torture or threats may convert people to the religious organization, but they do nothing to introduce a person to Jesus Himself.
When we take the time to study the divine plan for creation and to see Christ not merely as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but as the God of the whole earth (Isaiah 54:5), then and only then can we begin to see Christ in all men and in every situation. Yes, of course, there are some people and some situations that are so abhorrent that we, in our immature and blind condition, cannot yet see Christ there. But that does not mean He is absent. It only means that have yet receive improved eyesight.
That is the point of this teaching. Rather than react to those bad things as if there were no God, let us instead ask God for eye salve (Rev. 3:18), so that we can see the divine purpose in all things and in all men. This is made much easier if we understand that God was in Christ reconciling THE WORLD to Himself (2 Cor. 5:18). When we understand that the divine plan from the beginning was to reconcile the whole world to Himself--and that He is fully capable of reaching that goal--we have taken the most basic step toward seeing Christ in others. We can then understand how Jacob could see God in Esau, and we can understand how God could reject Esau before He was even born, while yet remaining a just God. God fully intends to restore Esau, along with the rest of creation, after he has served his purpose.
Part of that purpose is for Esau to play the role of the vessel of dishonor until Jacob comes to see God in Esau. If Esau were righteous, Jacob could have seen God in him while having blurred vision. But God made it difficult, so that Jacob would continue to develop his spiritual eyesight until he could see God clearly in the most unlikely person.
This is the third part of a series titled "Seeing Christ in Others." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones