In the film A Few Good Men, truth is demanded of a Marine commander testifying in a court-martial. He responds by shouting, “You can’t handle the truth!”
Sadly, I have found that many people who claim to love and follow Jesus cannot handle the truth about the deicide charge. Some resolutely want to ignore or even deny the church’s history of anti-Jewish actions driven by the Christ-killer accusation. Others want to insist that all Jewish people are guilty, even today, despite biblical and theological evidence to the contrary. Nevertheless, we must submit to the truth and allow it to change our attitudes and actions.
Practically, the truth should affect our behavior in three ways. First, all of us must recognize our own responsibility for the death of Jesus. The Lord Jesus died because I sinned, because you sinned, because all have sinned—even the nicest person you have ever known. If only one person had sinned, God would still have sent His Son, the Messiah Jesus, to die a cruel death on the cross. The Lord Jesus did not die because the Jews killed Him. He died willingly for me and for you, according to the eternal plan of God the Father, because we sinned.
Although Mel Gibson is most famous for his acting, he produced and directed The Passion Of The Christ. Significantly, the only time Gibson appears on screen is when his hand is seen holding the nail that is being pounded through Jesus’ hand as He is crucified. In this powerful way, he acknowledged his own responsibility for killing Jesus. We too must affirm our own guilt, recognizing that Jesus died because of us and for us.
A second way the truth should affect us is by recognizing and opposing anti-Semitism. According to a Pew Research Center poll released on April 2, 2004, 26 percent of respondents believe Jews were to blame for the crucifixion—up from 19 percent in 1997. Since 2001, anti-Semitism has risen dramatically in Europe. We need to express, loudly and clearly, our love for the Jewish people and our opposition to this most ancient hatred.
Third, we must proclaim the gospel, the good news. The fact that Jesus died is not good news on its own. It is not good news if we are only aware of the suffering and death of Jesus. Focusing on the crucifixion of Jesus alone results in just one more dead Jewish man at the hands of the Romans. The good news is that out of the 100,000 Jewish men crucified under Pontius Pilate, only one rose from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is good news.
When Jesus was raised from the dead, God confirmed that He is indeed God in the flesh: “Who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).
When we think of Jesus, we must remember that He is not still on the cross and He is no longer in the tomb. He has been raised from the dead and has ascended to His seat at the right hand of the Father. We do not need to seek the living among the dead, for “He has risen, just as He said” (Mt. 28:6).
The good news we must proclaim to Jew and Gentile alike is this: Although our sins have separated us from God, Jesus died as our substitute, taking the punishment we deserved. Then He was raised from the dead, proving that He is God. Now, if we will trust in Him, all our sins will be forgiven and we will experience a new relationship with God.