Above the the Cross of Christ is a sign which reads ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’ (INRI – Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum). The Jewish rulers wanted it changed to ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’, but Pilate over-ruled them saying, “What I have written I have written.” (John 19: 21-22)
Jesus is crucified as a Jew
A citizen of Judea, born into the line of David in the now Palestinian town of Bethlehem, you couldn’t get more Jewish than Jesus.
The crucifixion is a thoroughly Jewish event. Other than the Roman soldiers, all the people present at the Cross are Jewish – Simon of Cyrene (an African Jewish pilgrim to Jerusalem), the women following behind, the two thieves, the religious leaders and their baying mob, not to mention the disciples who ran away. All are Jewish.
Jesus is crucified as a Jew for our salvation
Jesus Himself said – to the Samaritan woman at the well – “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4: 22). God specifically chooses the Jewish people through which to reveal Godself, first to the Jews themselves and then to all of humankind. This makes the Jews a ‘special’ people among the people-groups of the world. A ‘Chosen People’.
As a people the Jews remain ‘chosen’, because their chosenness is a promise, and God never goes back on God’s promises.
‘…for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable…’ (Romans 11: 29)
This is why it is our duty for us as Christians (co-inheritors of the Promise) not only to honour the Jewish people, but to love them, and to oppose all hatred of the Jews wherever and whenever we see it.
The Jews didn’t kill Jesus
This accusation, levelled at the Jews, of ‘Jesus-killers’ is a pernicious lie, and a stain upon Christian history. Most heinous among heresies, it led directly to the Holocaust.
Hatred of the Jews is more of a spiritual issue than it is a political one. For to despise the Jews is to despise the God of the Jews – God who is revealed in and through Jesus the Christ, King of the Jews.
Jesus is crucified as a Jew for our salvation. He is the Jewish Messiah, the anointed One. Yeshua – ‘the One who saves’.
Writing to the Gentile Romans (chapter 11) St Paul pictures an olive vine as a metaphor for Israel, the chosen of God. Aside this vine are broken-off branches, symbolising the Gentiles. Paul imagines these broken branches – us who have believed on and received the message of the Cross – being grafted in to the original vine, making us, in a deep and mysterious way, ‘Yehudi’, People of God.
25 So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written,
“Out of Zion will come the Deliverer;
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”
27 “And this is my covenant with them,
when I take away their sins.”
Paul the Apostle (Romans 11: 25-27)