Movies come and go...

Last year when the movie, "The Passion of the Christ" first appeared, this website was created to offer substantive answers to those who got excited by the media hoopla about the movie. It's always fun for Christians to see interest in a topic that keeps arresting the attention of the world, even though it's been 2000 years since Jesus lived and died and was raised. As we predicted a year ago, the excitement has died down. Just as the tragedy of 9/11 caused people to question their materialistic pursuits for a time, the pressing cares of the world system soon crowded back in, and intrigue of the Cross, like the horrors of terrorism, soon lost their insistent appeal. Even the graphic drama of the movie wore a callus upon the consciences of people, a callus that reduces the impact of the very events which it depicted.

As we predicted, something much more important has happened, though. There has been a long-term effect from that movie upon the lives of many of us (committed Christians, whatever the denomination), as we see more clearly just how much Jesus suffered. We sense a growing determination on the part of many Christians to become more fruitful in their life of faith; more questioning of established forms and institutions of worship; and we are convinced there has also been a small increase in the number of unbelievers who have been moved to appreciate their Savior for the first time.

Here is the same word of caution we delivered over a year ago: God works in quiet ways, in individual hearts. Hollywood, and the world system as a whole, works in splashy ways, using its influence to herd people into groups and to get them to follow a "movement". Be careful, friends.

Masses of people jumping on a bandwagon are not a proof of the blessing of God. Purity, righteousness, grace, wisdom ... these are the quiet voices of God. Jesus will tippy-toe into your heart, not take it by storm. He will leave you free at all times to walk away, or adopt a worldly spirit; Satan will attempt to lead you captive, into the golden chains of an institutional church or political movement or pop-culture fad.

We believe the same situation that Jesus predicted 2000 years ago still prevails. Wherever the good seed is sown, an enemy comes and sows "tares" -- imitation wheat that looks like the real thing, but is dark, bitter, and useless. Useless in terms of building a Bible-based, Spirit-led Christianity, but useful as a test and a character-building challenge for those who really do have the spirit of Christ.

Don't blame the Jews

In the Passion movie, as in the New Testament account, the Jews come out looking pretty bad. Pilate, the Roman governor, comes across as stuck in the middle, and the Jewish leaders use the political realities of Pilate's world as a way to force him into having Jesus crucified.

In hindsight, the concerns expressed by Jewish people about an upsurge in anti-Semitic attitudes as a result of the movie appears to have been, happily, unfounded.

Still, we believe that it is clear that anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world, including in the United States. We believe all geo-political events are ultimately the outworking of God's plan for man, but we still caution all individuals in every land to avoid opposing Israel, God's chosen people. All individuals and nations who oppose Israel are fighting a battle they cannot win, because the Creator of the Universe has chosen Jerusalem as his capital, and the Jews as his people who he wants to inherit that Land. How do we harmonize our Christianity with Judaism?

Here's our take on the matter:

We are Christian believers, who trust both Hebrew and Christian scriptures as the Word of God. But Jewish people who have suffered bitterness from the hands of "Christians" for almost 2000 years must be forgiven for distrusting the accuracy of the "historic record" -- the Gospels. From their perspective, it makes sense to question the account because the people who have controlled the Bible have misused facts and acted in an untrustworthy manner.

To start with, all Christians should try to view the matter through Jewish eyes.

Here's what our Jewish brothers have seen and experienced:

  1. Jesus presented a message that doesn't make sense to them. They were taught that the Messiah would bring worldwide peace and justice, not a message that "God's kingdom is in your heart" as many Christians express it today.
  2. Jesus said "don't resist evil". This seems immoral to Jewish thinkers, who learned from Moses to stand up for what is right and enforce justice in the community.
  3. There is no doubt that the early Christians did not speak of Jesus as God, but the Son of God. Many Jews in the years following Jesus' life came to believe the simple message of the Bible, that Jesus was a man who came from heaven to become a baby, grew up to become a prophet and teacher, died on a cross, and was raised from the dead by God. But when Christians started saying in 325 C.E. that Jesus was a God-man, that he was God himself ... well, that was just unthinkable to Jewish minds. Judaism, understandably, innoculated itself against any claims that Jesus was worthy of their investigation.
  4. Though Christianity started as a sect of Judaism, within a couple hundred years it became anti-semitic, and the emperor Constantine changed the time of Easter and many other things in order to make Christianity as un-Jewish as possible. Replacement Theology taught that all promises to the Jews had been lost to them, and that Christians became the true Jews, "Israelites indeed".
  5. Soon Christians began actually persecuting the Jews, restricting them financially, forcing them to live in isolation, even killing them and seizing their property. Christmas Eve, a night of celebration for Christians, became a night of terror for Jews, as year after year they suffered from the violence and brutality of "Christians" on that night.
  6. These abuses are not ancient history. Only a generation ago, the Holocaust was the logical conclusion of centuries of Christian anti-semitism. Brutal men actually believed that they were doing God service by rounding up, deporting, and killing the Jews. Today, Jew-bashing and Jew-hatred is alive and well, growing by leaps and bounds, throughout the world. As Alan Dershowitz has well documented in his book, "The Case for Israel", today's intellectuals and liberal elites are opposing Israel -- but when you scratch and sniff their attitudes, the ugliness of antisemitism is unmistakable. No wonder today's Jewish leaders are worried that the same kinds of anti-Jewish hysteria will repeat itself if the Passion movie stirs up religious fervor.
  7. Jesus' blood is a gift to the world, not something that must be atoned for...

The apostle Paul is very clear that the special destiny of the Jewish people is a gift and calling from God, who will never change his mind on that. They are "beloved for the fathers's sakes." (See Romans 11) God swore by himself that he would bless the offspring of Abraham, and Paul makes it clear that the Jews did not lose everything by their rejection of the message of Jesus. They lost a special privilege -- the opportunity to be part of the Bride of Christ in heaven. But they did not lose the opportunity to be here on earth, the leading nation of the world during Messiah's reign on earth. And the Jews are even now being regathered to Israel as a step toward that blessing.

But didn't the mob say, "His blood be on us and our children"? Yes, they did say that, but there is no evidence in the Bible that any of the sufferings of the Jews during the "Church age" were some sort of payback for Jesus' blood. Such an idea is repulsive. Jesus gave his life for them and for us, not the other way around.

The Jews did suffer at the hands of Christians, but that was a sin that is chargeable to the false Christian church in its hour of judgment, coming soon. (See Isaiah 47)

And Jews did suffer for their breaking of the law covenant, as described in the book of Hosea. That is over, according to Isaiah 40.

And the Jewish nation did go into "hades" -- oblivion -- as a nation, and its people did experience many kinds of torments, as Jesus predicted in his parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. (Luke 16:19-31 -- Christians erroneously apply this parable, which is prophetic of the loss of favor of the Jewish nation, as some sort of graphic depiction of Hell. We disagree, and agree with the overwhelming testimony of the Bible that when people die, they "sleep", awaiting the resurrection) But the nation has been forgiven, and the time of her favor has returned. (Psalm 102:13)

Everything comes to the Jew first, then the Gentiles. The Jews were exposed to Jesus first, they were humbled as a nation first, and they are blessed first when the time of Christ's return rolls around. The Gentiles have been exposed to Jesus, and like the Jews some have accepted and most have not. Now, the Gentile empires, both civil and ecclesiastical, are being humbled around the world. Their time of glory is past, just as the time of Jewish glory was past in 70 C.E. Next on God's agenda: the final judgment of the Gentile nations and churches, and the blessing of Israel. Within our lifetime, we will see Israel rise while all the other nations fall, even as they try to destroy Israel.

The Jews are the other Son of God

Read what the Bible says about the Jewish people, and you will see an amazing fact: Israel is called the Son of God. (Exodus 4:22) And like Jesus, the original Son of God, Israel went to Egypt and was delivered; Israel was crucified. And 3 days later, Israel was awakened from the dead.* Israel is God's eternal possession, and God loves Israel like a son. God even says he loves Israel like a wife, a wife that was so bad he needed to divorce her, and yet he will remarry her, heal her uncleanness, and love her forever. (Hosea 2:14-23)

*Send for a free Bible study guide showing the chronology of Israel's times in history and prophecy