Anti-Semitism has marched through the centuries with boots, bombs, tanks, and terror. Its resurgence is no longer at the world’s doorstep; it has unashamedly penetrated organizations, institutions, governments, and yes, churches. Today “NEVER AGAIN” is “NOW AGAIN.” Was there a way to circumvent persecution of Jewish communities throughout millennia? Could emphasis on a specific New Testament bible passage have derailed the heinous genocide of the Holocaust?
What are the pivotal verses which held the potential to diffuse anti-Semitism? It’s the words of Jesus Himself in John 10:17-18; the redemption story. In response to His dust-up with the Pharisees because He healed a blind man on the Sabbath, Jesus boldly declared, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” Some Pharisees accepted His words, some denounced Him. Yes, others in ancient times played a part in Jesus’ crucifixion but make no mistake: in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus agonizingly and fully embraced God’s redemptive plan to “lay down His life and take it up again.” He was, after all, God in flesh. Nothing and no one could have prevented Jesus’ death nor His resurrection three days later.
By blaming only the Jewish people for Jesus’ crucifixion and glossing over His words in John 10:18,Christianity’s divorce from its Jewish roots resulted in Christianity eventually becoming its own religion.The divorce took place even with God’s direct inspiration about the essential role of Judaism as the cradle of Christianity born in the Old Testament and culminating in the story of Christianity’s Jewish-born Savior. The human heart easily sank into the weakness of human nature by blaming the entire Jewish race for the worst murder in history. Recognizing the Jewish origins of Christianity became camouflaged in Christian self- righteousness looking to place blame instead of looking at ourselves. And here we are in the 21st century with anti-Semitism surging again in waves of Jewish persecution on every front and spilling over into hatred for ancestral homeland, Israel.
The context of history will help inform us on how the separation took place. As ardent believers, the Jewish disciples-and thousands more who embraced Jesus as Savior- traveled the Roman Empire with the Good News after His ascension where He instituted the Great Commission. Later, non-Jews embraced Christianity mostly through the Jewish Apostle Paul. When the Romans destroyed the second Temple in 70A.D., the narrative began to veer off.
Aided by the passage of time and Constantine, Rome’s first Christian Emperor, the Jewish roots wilted, and Christianity blossomed when Constantine made Christianity the official state religion in 381A.D. Although Paul’s 30 years and 10,000 miles of travel lit Christianity’s fire for Gentiles roughly 350 yearsbefore Constantine, a precursor of already embedded disdain of its Jewish origins had crept in. Beginning around 150A.D some early church fathers, although deserving veneration, unfortunately brewed a poison which blinded Gentiles in the Medieval and Renaissance era.
Centuries later Martin Luther, the preeminent leader of the Protestant Reformation, inflamed anti-Semitism with his anger at the Jews for rejecting Jesus. It marred his otherwise profound legacy. Luther’s 1523A.D. pamphlet “That Christ Was Born a Jew” transitioned into a slanderous “On the Jews and Their Lies” twenty years later. In a dreadful manipulation of Christianity in the 20th century, Hitler drew from Martin Luther’s writings.
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Source: Christian Post