31 October 2015

Sneaky, deception and magicians...is there hope?

Sleight of hand is a remarkable visual and sometimes audial trickery that most of us admire. We watch David Copperfield and generations ago watched Harry Houdini, and we are amazed and scratch our heads. “How did he do that?” when he saws a lady in half or makes an elephant disappear. Even those magician shows we watch, when they slow down the trick… most of the time I don’t see how they do it.

I watch the football here in Australia and am constantly amazed when I see what they call a ‘dummy’ play. This is where one player pretends to offload the ball one way or another and ends up with almost-Copperfield-like sleight of hand and moves the ball forward with rapid-fire trickery. We applaud that play and wonder why the defense doesn’t know what he will do. Of course, no one knows what he will do, and perhaps even the offensive player doesn't know what he will do, until he sees the defense react one way or the other.

This is true in many sports and many situations of life, but it doesn’t work when we are trying to work our way religiously in a real way toward the Living God.

God demonstrates no sleight of hand and practices no dummies. He is ever real and honest and forthright. And he calls us to real and honest and forthright living as well. I’m not sure that I’ve ever read the word sneaky as one of those adjectives that applies to the Living God. In fact, I’m sure it doesn’t.

So why is it that we pretend and sneak and live double lives in these days? What is it about the possibility of privacy that is so commendable and allowing in the 21st century? What lessons can we learn that prevent our going there?

The honesty and forthrightness demonstrated in the Scriptures is not only a high mark to admire, but one to which we should aspire. When the prophet Nathan caught King David with his pants down, David didn’t say one thing and practice another. He agreed with Nathan’s assessment and called himself a sinner in need of forgiveness (2 Samuel 12.13, Psalm 51) and let the chips fall where they may. He didn’t lie anymore but clearly said he was guilty and had sinned against the Lord. He had after all committed adultery and murder, and as a Jewish man those are two of the Big Ten that you shouldn’t be anywhere close to committing.

Others saw themselves as wrong, like Isaiah the prophet who when confronted by the holiness of the Lord, said “Woe is me, for I am ruined.” (Chapter 6) King Solomon said “There is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7.20) And Solomon should know, as he lived wildly and spent his money anywhere and everywhere he wanted, to no satisfactory conclusion.

When we sin, if God is a good God, He will send guilt our way to correct us and challenge us and amend our ways.

Guilt is a lousy master but a wonderful teacher to get us on the right path.

The constant refrain from the Scriptures is that people who are sinners, whose hands are dirty, should cleanse their hands and purify their hearts. (James 4.8, Job 17.9, Psalm 24.4)

What does God promise to those who do this cleansing, detox program? “The righteous will hold to his way” (Job 17.9), and “He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Psalm 24.5) and James summarizes it best with, “He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (4.6-10)

25 October 2015

Removing enemies

By Bob Mendelsohn
Given in Lane Cove, NSW
From Judges 1-2, Joshua 23
25 October 2015

Thanks to the band for great music today, and to Darren and the staff for allowing me to speak today. Those regulars here know that I have been with Jews for Jesus for a few decades, since 1979 actually and you will get a chance to support that missionary organization today and my work in it particularly using those white cards inserted in your news sheet, or donate up the back at the book/ resource table in the hall.

Music and rhythm
I really like the music of church, in fact, I like a wide variety of music, and find myself tapping along on the back of a pew or the steering wheel of my car quite often. It’s the rhythm which I pattern. The book of Judges has a rhythm all its own. Let me give that to you right away so you can recognize it throughout the teaching series at church, or whenever you read the book.
The rhythm is
1) Israel is disobedient
2) Israel cries out for help
3) God delivers us from our enemies by means of available men and women
4) We forget God and fall into sin again.

I’m sure you will meet that rhythm again and again.

When I think about Bible books that I like to teach in new situations, I always prefer John or Genesis, Proverbs or Revelation, you know, where God is active and teaching and helping us who want to learn about His plans. The narratives like John or Genesis where the storyline preaches even without much work from me and Revelation because it’s about so much of God and us together. Proverbs because it’s so informational and great in short thoughts to help us get through the days. But if there is a book I usually avoid, it’s Judges. You see, Judges is not only about good judges and we will study them over the next fortnight, but it’s also about disobedient and ever-stubborn Israel.

If I teach that to Jewish people I worry that they will think all I ever talk about is sin, and not about God’s faithfulness or such. If I teach that to Gentiles, like I am today, I worry that you might get an attitude of “Those stupid Jews who never get it right.” Anti-Semitism doesn’t need me to stoke its flames.

That said, the book of Judges IS in the Bible and IS useful and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3.16). So I will go there. And especially because the church staff have asked me to bat opener in this series on the book. Today then, we begin in learning this season of Israel’s history.

Removing the enemies: Military might
The book opens with military conquest. That should excite Marise Payne and Duntroon grads, and some of you historians. So Israel’s military victories should give us reason to rejoice in God and to honor Him as God our Saviour. We should memorialize our victories with piled stones and rocks, with trumpets and loud praises. And we should have completed our victories across the country, but if you read the text carefully, you will see some of these things missing.
In chapter one we conquered the enemies around us: Canaanites, Perizzites (v. 1-20) from Dan to Beersheba, including Gaza and Jerusalem. It was an amazing, quick and powerful overcoming. God was with the Jewish people. (.19)

Removing the enemies: Problem
Then the words drop like cannonballs on our text, “But the sons of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem; so the Jebusites have lived with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.” (.21) Living with the enemy was not God’s plan and that allowance, that permission, that disobedience would haunt Israel then, and honestly, to this day. (1.21-36) And the problem is like we see in other Bible stories, like Saul and Agag and the Amalekites, like Eve and a little disobedience, like Ananias and Sapphira, is that a little disobedience is a lot of trouble to the person then and to the people of God in the future. And the problem is not one of obedience first. It’s a matter of faith in God.

God wants to be in relationship with us and when we let the enemies live in the land, then their gods eventually become a snare and a trap. Look, I’m a golfer and I know a trap when I see one, and when I can, I avoid them at almost any cost.

So what is God saying? Get rid of the people who have foreign gods because if you don’t, your ball will fall into the snare and sand trap, into the golf water hazard, or in rugby into touch, you will fail. So the matter is not really one of obedience first, but rather faith. If God said something, if He tells me something to do, then I must first believe Him and then go to do it. Disobedience is foremost an unbelief issue. Does that make sense? And how do we enter into relationship with the Almighty? By faith and faith alone.

Removing the enemies: Purpose
Why did God want us to remove the Canaanites, Hittites, Jebusites, and all the other nations in the land of Promise? The idolatrous peoples of the land had heard about the Jews, and about their escape from Egypt. They could have turned to the Almighty for forgiveness, but did not. They chose to live godlessly and the Lord knew that if Israel had opportunity to stay with these nations that eventually even the Jews would turn away from Him. That was not good on so many levels and God’s plan was about keeping His people with Him, and thus away from the enemy nations.

I’m not saying 21st Century Australia is at all the same as 15th Century BCE Israel, but some lessons can be learned. Israel then was not allowed what we call multiculturalism. That was the beginning of woes in ancient Israel.

The danger was that Israel would imitate the nations around her. And by walking away from the Almighty, we would actually fail God’s promises, and God’s promises had never failed and never will (Josh. 23.14ff). We would comply with idolatrous nations and live their lives instead of ours. Isn’t this exactly what happened in chapter two?

An angel of the Lord shows up and reminds Israel to be separate from the seven nations in the land, and that God will keep His covenant. He tells Israel that it’s personal. How do we know it's personal? Look at the personal pronouns God uses in verse 1 and 2: I brought you up out of Egypt and I led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you,...you have not obeyed Me;
We did not listen to His voice.

Removing the enemies: Thorns in your sides
Then the angel uses a phrase you might have heard before in the Newer Testament. The phrase, “Thorns in your sides” is sometimes the phrase we hear the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me — to keep me from exalting myself!” (2 Cor. 12.7) You may have been taught that the problem Paul had was something about blindness or weak eyes. You may have heard that this ‘thorn in the flesh’ was something physical. But the phrase is a clear reference to people. Consider the three times the phrase is used in the Older Testament.

Num. 33.55 ‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live.

Josh. 23.13 know with certainty that the LORD your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you.

Judg. 2.3 “Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.’”

Here we see God’s warning to the Jewish people in Moses’ day, in Joshua’s day and now told us by the angel of the Lord, that if we don’t trust God, and don’t remove the people from the land, that they, people, they will become like thorns in our sides. Therefore I conclude, in the same way, Paul had people who followed after him, centuries later, who told false gospels, who taught the people wrong things about Yeshua, legalizers, people who insisted that the people needed more than faith to find forgiveness. The thorns in Paul’s sides were people who taught wrong information about God.

OK, back to our story.
Chapter two verse 1, God’s longing is clear in the text. The angel of the Lord speaks and reminds them in terms of covenant: “I made a covenant with you and I will never break that covenant; you were to keep it; you were not to make a covenant with the other nations.” But what happened? We didn’t listen to him. The English text in our Bible says “obey,” but the Hebrew translates listen. The understanding is if you listen to God’s word, you will obey it.

The angel finished his commentary with the ‘thorns in your sides’ phrase and what was the result in Israel that day? Weeping. (.4) That’s why the town is called “Bochim” which is the Hebrew word for ‘weeping bitterly’ or ‘sobbing deeply.’ And I like that the word is not singular, but is written in the plural. Why? Because at least two are weeping; God and the Israelites. God joins us in our pains.

But even though that sobbing and the sacrifice that followed were genuine, and all Israel went home to their new land, after Joshua died, that sobbing turned disingenuous.

We read, “Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them” (2.11-12). The cycle and the rhythm of Judges begin again. Failure here is evident.

Removing the enemies: What do we learn?
1) God’s desire is for us to trust him, no matter what we see. Many often make the bulk of their study of the book of Judges into a mockery of the Jewish people, in our failures as followers of God to do just that. But the real story is the story behind the story, that throughout history, even this troubling history, God is ever reaching out to save us, to know us, to be in relationship with us. And He will do everything He can to ensure that we are brought into a place of decision. He may use enemies; He may use friends; He may use a Jewish man from the US, but He will get your attention, and His longing to be in relationship with you will be known by you. What you do with that longing…that’s up to you, isn’t it?

2) Victory is ours if we do trust him. He will cause us to walk in His ways and find delight in Him and in His plans. That’s the major reason to remove enemies. Throughout the book of Judges you will read of one military victory after another. I believe in our lives we can also have spiritual victory, if we win the battle of faith. The Centurion of Matthew chapter 8 is heralded by Yeshua as one whose faith outshone all the faith of all Israel. The Apostle John wrote, “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5.4)

In my ministry with Jews for Jesus, the joy I have in seeing Jewish people come to faith in Messiah is unmatched. They can be the most righteous or the least righteous, the nicest or the most crooked, but when they listen to Henry David Thoreau or the Gospel itself, they win. Thoreau said, “If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away.”

3) The world, the flesh, and Satan, summed up as The Enemy, want us to allow for him, to hang out with him, to live a double life. Compromise is easy in these days, but if we are victorious in our walk with the Lord, then the only way Satan can beat us is to cause us to pretend, to live sneaky lives and if so, two things are sure. One, we will get caught eventually and two, the enemy will have won if we continue. Yeshua said, “no man can serve two masters” (Matt. 6.24) and the book of Judges is calling us to wholehearted, single-focused faith in the Lord Himself.

4) When we fail, God will deliver us, if we call on Him and trust him.
That’s what I see as the overarching principles and lessons of the book of Judges. Each week for the next while the pastoral team will unpack specifics about this bible book. And what we read in the book of Hebrews, “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, And all these, having gained approval through their faith,” (Heb 11.32, 39)

Maybe next year before the Lane Cove Fair, we will re-read this sermon. And learn about going out to battle. We go to proclaim Jesus as Lord of Lane Cove and Lord of Heaven and earth. And we go, not in our own strength, but in that of our righteous Savior. We go because He went. And you can do that without a festival or a face-painting stall. Talk to your neighbour. Talk to your boss. Help kids at Scripture in school to get it. Tell people on the train and the bus. Let’s go there.

That’s what I tell my team of Jews for Jesus. We go to His own Jewish people because He did. We trust the Lord to give us people with whom to witness. And our victory is in trusting and knowing Him, and sharing Him with others. He loves them much more than we do. I think of Marvin, who got saved last month with me. His interest in God was minimal to say the least two months ago, but a weird vision in the night awoke him to the possibility of a real God, and within a month, this 32 year old Jewish man was not only professing Jesus as Lord, but I was baptizing him in Sandringham Beach with other believers watching. Or Naomi, the Israeli lawyer who while I was witnessing to her last year at a cafĂ© in Quakers Hill gave her life to Yeshua and is living in His power today. Let us go in His name, no matter the cost, no matter the false teachers and other thorns out there. Let us go to proclaim Yeshua, Lord of all. And let’s see what victories God will give us. Amen?

20 October 2015

To stir or not to stir...good question

I enjoy cooking, and find all kinds of reasons to include sauces and spices in simple vegetable concoctions. Mustard and raisins and chia seeds...they can all make their way into the least likely main dishes. And I like the idea of stir fry. Now I'm sure there are times when real chefs tell us not to stir, as the result will be too thin or too mushy or too something. OK, I get that, but generally my meals are better served if the flavours are allowed to blend.

Here in Australia, we have a national commitment to stirring. By this I am not referencing the culinary arts, but rather the troubling kind. You know, someone who stirs up situations only to 'get a rise' out of someone or some group. "He's just a stirrer" is a brand of commendation in Oz. So as a messianic Jew, this comes naturally to me. I was always a bit of a rebel, and an activist, especially in my later teens, and that has stayed with me through the decades.

But what about troubles that really do need to be calmed? I read a report last year during hostilities in Israel from the Economist here It had to do with kidnappings and resultant closures of walls and the stirring of bad blood. There the term is one we should avoid. This infusion of hostilities into the already-troubled waters of Israel and the Palestinian conflict is not a good blend.

Neal Colgrass of Newser online service wrote in January this year North Korea is alleging America Is 'Stirring Up Bad Blood. Colgrass quotes the BBC, National Public Radio and the Associated Press in his article. There is trouble brewing, to be sure, and that brew is titled 'bad blood.'

Stirring bad blood seems to be the mantra of those who want to malign any involvement of outsiders. Of course 007 would have us learn the difference between martinis made well and unwell, but that's another imagery. Here we are talking about stirring for the sake of stirring, or stirring for the sake of making things better. And that's something with which everyone will not agree.

Koreans will not agree with US sanctions.
Palestinians will not agree with Israeli force.

The Houston Astros baseball team probably agree with the writer (Adam Chandler) of Taylor Swift and her curse as he recounts the troubles Taylor stirs up when she performs at baseball stadia during the Major League Baseball season.

I guess, the bottom line is... when you stir things up, is it for the greater good? Is it for the best purposes? Or are you only a stirrer for stirring sake? I like the idea of soul-stirring music and dance and art. I am often inspired by the likes of Simon Tedeschi whom I heard perform Mussorgsky's Paintings at an Exhibition a fortnight ago in Sydney's Angel Place. I'm inspired by the paintings from the Hermitage I saw in Melbourne's National Gallery last month. The dance performed by the Sydney Ballet Company in Triptych earlier this month was soul-stirring, to be sure. And almost every time I see a performer at an Olympics standing on the top platform having earned the gold medal, and hearing their national anthem played, it's almost the definition of stirring. Let's let that be our goal in stirring today. And tomorrow. How's that?

The Bible says of the wicked, "Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men who devise evil things in their hearts; they continually stir up wars." (Psalm 140.1-2). Good prayer King David.

Peter the good friend and colleague of Yeshua, who was a very capable minister of the Gospel and who died to make it known throughout the world, said this in his general letter, "I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder." (2 Peter 1.12-13). So this arousal to good memory, this stirring of the mind, is intentional, to bring us to a reminder, to call to mind good things. This is rehearsal. This is good stirring. Let's practice this one today. OK?

09 October 2015

Making choices....whom to follow

The Bible says, "Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith." (Hebrews 13.7)

This could be a little confusing. Basically the writer of the Newer Testament book of Hebrews is saying this, "If you want to make good choices about theology and about life, look to the people who taught you things, and go with the guys who have a good end-game, whose lives and teachings match where you want to land. Don't follow false teachers. Don't be tricked by your own itching ears. Consider the end, the result, the final landing zone of the teacher... and go with the people who will get you there also."

I know, those aren't the translations, and not the actual text, but it might help someone today who is caught in the either/or place of discomfort brought about by anti-missionaries whose apparent only care for Jewish souls is after they have come to faith in Jesus. I've never seen a "Jews for Judaism" brand anywhere where there is not a messianic Jewish success. They seem only to show up to dissuade and only to make unbelief a thing. That's not a good gig. In fact, that's a very sad mission. It might be better to title them "Jews against Jesus" rather than that they are 'for' anything.

That makes sense to me, that the writer of Hebrews should have had the same difficulties as we sometimes have with anti-missionaries. The two words to note in this Bible book are 'better' and 'warning.' The author says that everything we have in Yeshua, in fact Yeshua Himself also, is better than what we had before. The Messiah is better than angels, than the prophets, than Aaron, than Moses, and we have a better country, sacrifice, possession, promises, covenant, and hope. So count on Yeshua...He's not only Better...he's the BEST!

Then there are five warnings to the Hebrew Christians (a former term for Messianic Jews, which is the current nomenclature). Warning against the five dangers: 1. The danger of drifting (Chapter 2)
2. The danger of not entering into rest (still working to get 'there' on our own) (Chapters 3-4)
3. The danger of not going on to maturity, but rather being spoon-fed (not serving others) (Chapters 5-6)
4. The danger of willful sin, especially staying away from the fellowship of other Messianic people. (Chapter 10)
5. The danger of indifference to the point of denial. (Chapter 12)

There is a progression in these warnings. It starts with being careless about salvation and indifferent to spiritual things until finally one comes to be perfectly satisfied with being indifferent, even hostile to the very God who got you there.

Let me expand these five. First, Hebrews challenges us to ask ourselves how we plan to escape judgment if we neglect and reject so great a salvation, a salvation planned from the foundations of the world. (2.3) Secondly, the place of the Word of God is crucial. The second warning (3.12) is to take care we do not develop an unbelieving heart, and he uses the next several verses to help us overcome unbelief – exhort each other, share in Messiah, hold confidence, even to fear failure. We need to be aware that it is possible to harden our hearts against the Bible/ God's Word, and miss salvation. Third, (5.11-14) When we are not growing spiritually, skepticism, indifference, and apostasy may find room to creep in. An arm kept in a cast for several weeks quickly becomes smaller and weaker than the arm being used every day. Growth takes effort on our part, and it is something we should be working toward every day.

Fourth, in 10:26-31, the author addresses the dangers of deliberate sin, specifically quoting from Deuteronomy 32. Again, these are things his readers are familiar with from Moses’ teachings, but now it is being applied to rejecting Yeshua's sacrifice, a sacrifice sealing a covenant greater than the one brought by Moses. And it involves a separation from the people of God, the community of faith in Messiah. Some messianic Jews were walking away, turning away, even choosing the 'synagogue' over the 'church' (in today's language) and rejecting Messiah's sacrifice publicly. This was a major warning from the author-- don't do that!

Finally in chapter 12 we read the fifth warning, denial of Yeshua. In verse 25 we read, "see to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven." The abandonment of the people of God by these backsliding Jewish believers in Jesus was not good. The author is calling them back. Don't deny Yeshua... you will do so, by the way, if you walk with the wrong crowd. Don't spit on the sacrifice. Don't reject me, he says, because I'm sharing with you eternal truths.

Finally, he drops in this comment with which I started. Consider the result of the faith of those with whom you associate. And go with the system which is the better. In other words, which system appears to demonstrate things that you know to be true, and which has resultant behaviors in people whom you respect and long to replicate. That's the one you need to follow. And from whom to learn. And with whom to deeply associate. Make a good choice... go with the believing community. How do we know that? By looking at the end-game... where are they going? With whom are they going? When are they going? On what do they base their going? It's all about Yeshua and what He did for us. Make your choice. Go with the Yeshua people. Therein is wisdom.

08 October 2015

Who bears the guilt for the death of Jesus?

Published in Eternity website in Australia: here During the 2015 Hillsong Conference, Jarryd Hayne, the former Parramatta Eels rugby league star and now running back for the San Francisco 49ers, sent out a tweet to his followers: “Jesus wanted to help people but was killed by his own people.” The next day after being challenged by one of his followers that Jesus was killed by the Romans, Hayne wrote, “The Jews were the people who took him to the Romans n [sic] forced them to give the order because they couldn’t.”

Because of the tweets, Jewish representatives immediately launched a counter campaign. Hayne subsequently removed the two tweets.

Michael Koziol of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote about the Jewish reaction, quoting the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Dvir Abramovich, who said he was deeply concerned by Hayne’s tweets and labeled them “damaging, painful and irresponsible”.

“For thousands of years Jews were held in contempt and were persecuted and murdered because they were labeled as Christ-killers,” Abramovich said in a statement.

Koziol reported, “Most Christians no longer hold the view that the Jewish people were responsible for Jesus’ death, and persistent belief in that narrative is now associated with anti-Semitism.”

Hayne later sent out an apology tweet, which was welcomed by Jewish community representatives. But the issue remains unsettling for Jews. Some of Hayne’s Twitter followers chided him for his apology, using ugly language to describe Jewish people.

It is unsurprising that the Jewish community was up in arms about Jarryd Hayne’s announcement that Jewish people were responsible for the death of Jesus. We will cop it yet again from another generation of angry Jesus-defenders. Jews will “get theirs” for what they have done to “our” Saviour.

Anti-Semitism is a horrible reality most clearly seen through hundreds of years of persecution: the Holocaust, the Crusades, the Inquisition.
Church and synagogue hostility began as early as the Apostle Paul and the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60). Mainline Jewish resistance to messianic Jews (those who believed in Jesus Christ) was sealed in 90CE during the Council of Jamnia where prayers were added to the synagogue service saying that ‘minim’ (Hebrew for heretics, also a reference to believers in Jesus of Nazareth) were to be hopeless, lost and cut off quickly. The situation deteriorated when Rome and the church united under Constantine. Church merging with state has never been good for the Jews.

The evils of forced baptisms from as early as the sixth century, along with pseudo-conversions in medieval Europe, add the anguish of Jewish people who hear from Christians the charge of deicide (the killing of a god).

Here’s how their reasoning works out: since Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, God’s Son, then their fate, their deserved fate, is hostility from God, and from the church. Thus, any punishment that the Jew receives is warranted due to their rejection of the love of the Jesus of history. As a result of this, Jews have been blamed for the Black Death in Europe, the AIDS virus, financial crises and even the 9/11 attacks on the US in 2001.

No matter which way you look at it, such claims cannot be proven.

But something Jarryd Hayne said does ring true. It’s about culpability.

Someone is responsible for the death of Jesus. And the Scripture does teach us that there were five agents who had a “voice” in the matter.

One of those is the Jewish people (the leaders or the generation who were alive at the time). And that’s the part that might be the most uncomfortable. Without the Jewish man Judas and the Jewish leadership “dobbing in” the Messiah Jesus, he might have lived on for years. But Scripture teaches us that it was the Jewish people who brought Jesus to Pilate for the matter to be finalised (John 18-19). They heard the option to release him later and chose Barabbas instead.

Of course, the Romans were guilty of the actual deed. They are the second voice. It was a Roman soldier who nailed him to the cross and Romans who held the court that convicted him. The government from Herod to Pilate share the guilt in this matter.

The third guilty party in the death of Jesus was he himself. He had the authority and power to accomplish anything or to call down angels to save himself. But he said, “No one has taken it away from me, but I lay it down on my own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:18). Without his own permission, no one would have had the ability or power to kill him on the cross.

The fourth is one of the worst to ponder. It was the Father himself. The most famous verse in the New Testament is John 3:16. There we read that the love of the Father is demonstrated in the death of his Son: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” If the death of Jesus did not accomplish anything, then the Father would be the worst sadist and child-abuser in history. For who among us would give his son to death?

Finally, and most relevant to each of us, is the responsibility each of us has in the death of Jesus. Without our sin, and our sins, he would not have needed to die. But the story is that he died for our sins and without that death/atonement/blood, we would be eternally lost. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3), and again, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by his wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

So when people mention that the Jewish people were culpable for the death of Jesus, they are 20 per cent right. It’s true, but it’s not the entire story. And how grateful I am for the lamb of God giving himself for our sins and demonstrating his own love to us in that one marvellous act. - See more at: http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/who-bears-the-guilt-for-the-death-of-jesus#sthash.4AOu0GCb.dpuf