Summary: Dealing with the movie, "The Passion of the Christ", it deals with the question of who was really responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion.
Today, I want to ask the question—who killed Jesus Christ?
The answer is important, maybe more important than you realize. You see, there has been a lot of anti-Semitism because of the story of the passion, and there has been a lot of blame assessed to the Jewish people.
In three days, a movie which has the opportunity to impact this world for Christ will be opening in theaters across America. The movie is entitled, “The Passion of the Christ.” Directed by Mel Gibson, it portrays the last 12 hours of Christ’s life leading up to the crucifixion. It has been hounded by many, praised by others, and sure to continue to cause controversy.
The reason? The message of the Gospel is a stumbling block. The Bible tells us that it was a stumbling block to the Jews. Let me read to you from 1 Corinthians.
22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
Is it any wonder that the main opposition to this movie is not necessarily the violence, but opposition to the message because of what it will do to the Jewish community?
By Scott Bowles
Despite declaring that his movie is about ’’love and forgiveness,’’ Mel Gibson, interviewed Monday on national television, did little to quash debate over whether The Passion of the Christ will kindle anti-Semitism.
Several groups that have expressed concerns over the film, including the Anti-Defamation League, criticized Gibson on Tuesday for refusing to acknowledge Jewish sensitivities to the film, which portrays the final 12 hours of Jesus’ life.
Ken Jacobson, associate national director of the ADL, criticized Gibson for ’’refusing to acknowledge the concerns the Jewish community has over this movie. He just doesn’t get it. Christian-Jewish relations have improved vastly over the past 50 years because of sensitivity to the problem. None of that was there (Monday) night.’’
John Piper said of the problem of anti-Semitism—“It is a tragedy that the story of Christ’s Passion (his suffering and death) has produced anti-Semitism against Jews and crusading violence against Muslims. We Christians are ashamed of many of our ancestors who did not act in the spirit of Christ. No doubt there are traces of this plague in our own souls. But true Christianity . . . renounces the advance of religion by means of violence. . . . Christians are called to die, not kill, in order to show the world how they are loved by Christ.”
And so this morning, I want to clear up exactly who killed Jesus. You see, there have been many misconceptions regarding this fact. And the movie, which comes out this Wednesday, does not always give clear-cut answers; it just presents history for us to view.
We have lots of evidence to examine—four books of the Bible speak of this event in its historical context, and while it seems to be an open and shut case, there is more behind the scenes of this event than what is normally presented.
But before I present to you the actual person responsible for the death of Christ, let’s examine those who have been accused of this event in the past. First, we need to examine those in authority that day—those who presided over the trials of Jesus Christ. I am, of course, referring to the Romans; more specifically, to a man named Pontius Pilate.
It is a historical fact that Romans nailed him to the cross, and that Jewish leaders called for his crucifixion. As Mel Gibson said in his interview when asked who crucified Christ, he responded, “Well, there weren’t any Norwegians there.” But the answer is not as cut and dry as you might think. I want you to look at John 18.
John 18: 33Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
34"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"
35"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"
36Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
37"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
38"What is truth?" Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him.
1Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face.