Friday, March 29, 2024

Why was Jesus Cancelled?

Update: Part two Christian Intolerance

Today I want to talk about why Jesus was crucified. Not in a religious sense but in a historical one. I'm not going to get into born again bullsh*t about how if you say Abracadabra you are saved and what you do no longer matters. IMO that is not the gospel of Jesus Christ but I'm not getting into that. Today I want to talk about how the mob mentality dramatically changed from Palm Sunday when they were cheering him to a week later when they were demanding he be killed.

Before I do that I want to be very clear about one thing. This isn't about the Jews rejecting Christ. This is about humanity rejecting Christ. It could have been any group of people. I have often heard it said if Christ came in our generation and taught the same things he taught back then, the church would crucify him all over again. Why is that? Religion, like politics is always hijacked by opportunists. Moses once said "this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits."

He's describing human nature. It doesn't just apply to Jews, it applies to everyone. People don't want to hear the truth. People can't handle the truth. People want to be lied to. They want someone to make them feel comfortable and if he does, they will pay him well.

So let's talk about how the opinion of the mob dramatically changed from Palm Sunday to Good Friday. I heard a sermon in the United Church once where the minster pointed out that they went from shouting Hosanna to shouting crucify him in less than a week. I want to talk about what happened. What Jesus said and did to upset the mob and get canceled.

I know a lot of traditional Christians don't like the movie Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar but I really liked the music in those plays when I was young. Most Christians are familiar with the story of how Christ cleansed the temple. How he overturned the tables and physically threw the money changers out of the temple with a whip. That was very bold and dramatic.

I am told that the religious leaders at the time weren't shocked by what he did. They questioned his authority. That was something they were supposed to have done but didn't.

The first four books of the New Testament are called the gospels. Four different authors describe Jesus' life and mission. We read two slightly different accounts of what Jesus said when he chased the money changers out of the temple. In one version he said my father's house is a house of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves.

The other version states he said my house is a house of prayer not my father's house. That public declaration of divinity was considered by many to be blasphemy. In James E. Talmage's book Jesus the Christ he claims that Jesus cleansed the temple twice. Once at the beginning of his mission and again at the end of his mission shortly before he was crucified.

We can debate whether or not he cleansed the temple twice. The point is, he did do it after Palm Sunday before he was crucified and on that occasion he made a public declaration of divinity. That was one event that happened after he was greeted with cheers of Hosanna. Mathew 23 is another. In Mathew 23 Jesus confronted the religious leaders at the time and called them liars, hypocrites and children of hell. He confronted them and he cursed them. That's when they said, this man is crazy. Crucify him and from that moment on they set a plan in motion to destroy him.

I want to be very clear that he was speaking to the religious leaders at the time who were exploiting the church. They happened to be Jews but he wasn't just speaking to the Jews. He was speaking to all of us. He was also speaking to the leaders of Christianity, of Islam, of any religion that says one thing and does another. There is good and bad in every religion and in every community. If we deny that then we condone the bad. Martin Luther King said "Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good." I believe that.

The way the movie Godspell portrayed that event was a bit hokey but the song was powerful. So after the mob's triumphant welcome into Jerusalem, Christ cleansed the temple and confronted the religious leaders at the time. Again, he wasn't just speaking to the Jews, he was speaking to everyone. Josh McDowell wrote two excellent books. More than a Carpenter and Evidence Demands a Verdict. He wrote a few other weird ones but those two stand out as worth while.

In the book Evidence Demands a Verdict, he described the midnight trial and how it broke all the rules. He pointed out that all the witnesses contradicted each other and they were left with nothing on him. Until finally they asked, art though the Christ?

As Josh McDowell pointed out, they had nothing on him. All he had to do is say no and walk away but he didn't. That forces us to ask would he die for a lie? Not unless he was crazy but if he was crazy how did he fulfill biblical prophecy? How did he convince his 12 disciples to die for their testimony that they saw Christ after he was resurrected? These questions are for another day.

My point now is simply that during his trial they had nothing on him until they asked art though the Christ? His answer was profound. He said before Abraham was I am. He said two things. He said yes, I am the Christ. I am the Messiah Ben David but he went far beyond that.

Remember Moses and the burning bush? Moses asked God, who shall I say sent me? God said tell them I am sent you. It was the Hebrew word for I am. So when Jesus answered them in his trial, not only did he say yes I am the Christ, he also said he was Jehovah, the one who spoke to Moses in the burning bush. The religious leaders at the time freaked and said we have no need for further witnesses. We have heard enough.

Now I want you to remember that the law the Jews had been given at that time was crazy. No disrespect. The law said you were to be stoned for adultery, you were to be stoned for breaking the Sabbath. A rebellious son was to be stoned. It's amazing anyone survived and weren't all stoned. Martin Luther King said the old law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. He was right but the law required at the time if you had committed blasphemy, you were to be put to death. That was the law that God had given them and Jesus was claiming to be God. According to the law he gave them, that was blasphemy.

This Easter I want to emphasize that we can't hate on the Jews for crucifying Christ. The Christian church would have done the same thing and the Jews were simply obeying the law God gave them. Jesus had to die to fulfill the plan God had for him.

Many years ago a Punjabi coworker once asked me, why do you call it Good Friday if that was the day Jesus was killed? I just said it's complicated. What was I supposed to say? He died for our sins? She would have been like what do you mean he died for our sins, then I would have been back to it's complicated. The atonement of Christ makes it possible for us to repent. Which simply means we can change. We can grow. We can progress. We can rise above our past.

A damned soul is a soul that can't progress like a dam stops the flow of water. Jesus made it possible for us to progress and it doesn't matter what race or religion you are. Life is about moral righteousness. If we are wicked then we are not children of God we are as Paul declared bastards, children of another. Actions speak louder than words. As ye sow so shall ye reap.

I realize the crucifixion of Christ is a sensitive topic for Jews. I saw a recent interview with Candace Owens and a Jewish Rabbi who misunderstood some of the things she had said. In that interview the Jewish Rabbi said some people believe that because the Jews rejected Christ they have become evil and Satanic. That is not true. I had a Jewish friend in Belfast who said Jesus was a gift from the Jews to the Gentiles. I can accept that.

This era is considered the Times of the Gentiles. Peter held the keys to the gospel of circumcision but Paul held the keys to the gospel of uncircumcision. Gentiles who accept the gospel are accepted into the kingdom by way of adoption through baptism. This does not mean the Jews are of the devil. Jesus was a Jew. His apostles were Jewish. Paul was a Jew. The Old and New Testaments of the Bible were written by Jews.

Jesus was a reformer. He encouraged the Jews to remember the prophets. Moses, Elijah and Isaiah were prophets. Israel has been led astray when they followed men instead of prophets. I heard someone once claim that the Jews don't believe in the Old Testament. They just believe in the Torah. That is not true. Do you celebrate Purim? That's from the book of Esther not the Torah. The Torah is the first five books of the Old Testament. It is considered the law.

Do you recognize King David? He wrote the book of Psalms. Do you recognize King Solomon? He wrote the book of Proverbs. Do you set an empty place for Elijah during Passover? Elijah was a prophet just like Moses was. So was Isaiah. Great are the words of Isaiah. We will begin to understand his prophecies in our era. Jesus' advice to the Jews would be to remember the law and the prophets. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet. I can accept that.

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