My newest book was just released, and it is very helpful in combating anti-Semitism. I hope you will get a copy of Why Christians Should Care About Their Jewish Roots. It is on Amazon.com, or you can get it from Energion Publications. Since I was limited to 40 pages for this Line Drives volume, I could not include the following teaching. But this subject needs to be addressed to vindicate the Jewish people. It is a fitting lesson at the end of Jewish American Heritage Month.
WHO KILLED JESUS? It was primarily the religious leaders who wanted Jesus killed. The multitudes loved Him! The Jewish people had been flocking to Him for healing and to hear Him teach. The chief priests and scribes were the ones who stirred up the rabble that day, who said, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" "When morning came [after Jesus was arrested the night before and brought before the Sanhedrin], all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death" (Matt. 27:1). They took Him to Pilate. "But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus" (Matt. 27:20). Pilate brought Jesus out to the crowd, saying, "Behold the man! Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying 'Crucify Him, crucify Him!'" (John 19: 5-6).
Remember that Jesus told His disciples numerous times that it was "the elders, chief priests, and scribes" who would turn him over to be killed (Matt. 16:21). He never implicated "the Jews" but only their leaders. Even so, it was not all these leaders. Among the elders of the Sanhedrin there were at least two Jews who loved Jesus, Nicodemus (John 3) and Joseph of Arimathea! (Luke 23: 50-53)
The crucifixion took place during Passover, one of the annual Feasts (Lev. 23) when all the Jews were required to come to Jerusalem, so the city was greatly crowded with Jews. At the Passover Seder the people partook of the slain and roasted lambs and reenacted the Exodus from Egypt. The ritual went on for hours, and the Jewish families in Jerusalem would have stayed up very late the night before the crucifixion. Here is a possible scenario: Most of the Jews likely were aghast at what they saw as they came into the city later in the morning, witnessing a beaten Jesus carrying His cross! Of course, even Jesus' disciples all fled, except for John, His mother, and the women. This fulfilled Scripture (Zech. 13:7). So, most of the Jews didn't participate in Jesus' cruel murder, even though they didn't stand by Him.
Three days later Jesus came out of the grave and appeared to His disciples and many others for 40 days! Then He ascended back into heaven, and ten days later, the Jews were again gathered in Jerusalem for another Feast - Shavuot (Pentecost). When the Holy Spirit was poured out, the disciples of Jesus were accused of being drunk, so Peter stood up to preach and explain this supernatural phenomenon of tongues of fire on their heads and speaking in languages they had not learned! It is true that in Peter's sermon He is preaching to the Jewish people, and saying, "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth ...Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, YOU have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death ..." (Acts 2:22-23). No doubt some of these Jews had been the ones Jesus had asked forgiveness for on the cross, but most likely the great majority were horrified that this sinless, healing prophet had been put to death. However, as Americans are held responsible for what their leaders do, so God held His chosen people responsible for what their leaders did.
Peter had pointed out that it was God who was ultimately responsible for the crucifixion, but He had used both Roman and Jewish leaders - "For truly, against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done" (Acts. 4:27-28). So these four named here bore equal responsibility for killing Jesus, right?
Wait a minute! Didn't Jesus say that no man had the power to take His life? Didn't He say that He willingly laid down His life? (John 10: 17-18) So think again, who really killed Jesus? Why did He go to the cross willingly? Surely you have heard. HE DID IT FOR YOU AND ME! That was the only way our sins could be forgiven, and we could have eternal life. So, the real answer to the question, Who killed Jesus? is WE DID! YOUR SINS AND MY SINS PUT JESUS ON THE CROSS! He died for every people group, so everyone's sins in effect killed Jesus.
What has been the result of the false accusation that the Jews killed Jesus? Down through the centuries they have been called "Christ Killers!" One of the arguments by anti-Semites seems to be backed up by a parable Jesus told about the wicked vinedressers. But this parable was pointed at the religious leaders, not the Jews in general. This was a story about the owner of a vineyard who went away and later sent back his beloved son to get some of the fruit of the vineyard. The wicked vinedressers killed him. The owner destroyed these wicked vinedressers and gave the vineyard to others. The religious leaders KNEW He was talking about them, and they plotted to kill Him. "And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people - for they knew he had spoken this parable against THEM" (Luke 20:19).
The Jews as a whole have been falsely accused of being like the wicked vinedressers, and many have assumed that the "others" in the parable represent the Church who replaced the Jews. Not so. Paul explains in Romans 11 that only "some" of the natural branches (Jews) of the olive tree were broken off so the "wild branches" (Gentiles) could be grafted in. He warned the Gentile believers not to boast against the natural branches, because the root of the Jewish olive tree of faith supports the wild branches. God is able to graft back in the natural branches that were broken off, and when the Gentile Church wakes up to its Jewish roots, "all Israel will be saved!" The second-century church's "replacement theology," a misinterpretation of Scripture, was like a poisonous virus that led straight to the Holocaust, I prove this in my book, Why Christians Should Care About Their Jewish Roots. If you have not heard this church history before, it will really shock you!
My whole ministry is to help the Church get back to her Jewish roots as preparation for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ/ Yeshua HaMashiach. He is coming to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people, and His throne will be there. He will be the King of the world but also the true King of the Jews! He was Jewish, you know, and all the apostles, and the early church for ten years was entirely Jewish. It was Jews who wrote the Bible, except for Luke, and they preserved it for us. We are indebted to the Jews.
Anti-semitism arose in the church when the Gentiles came into leadership. They forgot their Jewish roots. Many atrocities by Christians were perpetrated against the Jews because of this, and Jews were labeled "Christ-killers." Read my book and learn Why Christians Should Care About Their Jewish Roots!