Serpents, Accusations & Salvation

They were hanging out in front of the hotel where they were staying after returning from sightseeing and having lunch when Dushan asked her, “Do you have anything against Jews?”

Surprised by his question, she replied, “No. Why would I?”

“You’re a Christian, right?”

“Yes.”

“I’ve heard of some Christians who have a problem with Jews because of the crucifixion.”

“Yes, it’s called the Jewish deicide which is a theological position that holds that Jews as a people will always hold a collective responsibility for killing Jesus, even throughout the successive generations following the period he lived. This theology all began as early as the 2nd century by Justin Martyr and Melito of Sardis.  Jews were accused of being Christ-killers and this incited acts of violence against Jews such as pogroms, massacres during the Crusades, expulsions from England, France, Spain, Portugal and other places. They were tortured during the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions and then, there’s the Holocaust.”

“Do you believe that the Jews were responsible for the death of Christ?”

“They wanted Him dead but because of their law, they couldn’t put him to death. That’s why they went to the Romans who crucified Him. Jesus spoke about how He was going to die. He said that He was going to be lifted up like the serpent on the pole.”

“The serpent on the pole?”

“Yes, when the children of Israel were in the wilderness, there was a plague which was killing them. They were told to look at the bronze snake on the pole and when they did they were saved. It took faith for the people to believe that looking at the snake would save them. Jesus said the same thing about Himself. He said that when people looked at Him on the cross and believe, they would be saved.”

“The story of the bronze serpent sounds familiar. I think my mother might have read it to me when I was a child.”

“It was later broken into pieces because the children of Israel were burning incense to it and had even given it a name. The name they gave it meant ‘a thing of brass’. They were worshipping it so King Hezekiah of Judah destroyed it.”

“I wonder if that’s why the symbol for medicine is a snake on a pole.”

“There are two symbols for medicine–one has two snakes on the pole and the other has one snake. The World Health Organization uses the symbol with the one snake. I read that the correct one for medicine is the one that WHO uses. It’s the the Rod of Asclepius, with one snake and no wings above the staff. In Greek mythology, the choice of the Rod of Asclepius is a sensible one since Asclepius, Apollo’s son was the Greek god of healing and medicine.”

“So, you were saying that Jesus said that He would be lifted up like the snake and all who looked to Him would be saved.”

“Yes.”

“It sounds to me like He knew that He was going to be crucified.”

“Yes, He did. He told the disciples that many times. He said that after two days was the Passover and that He would be delivered up to be crucified. After He was raised from the dead, He came across two of the disciples who were on their way to Emmaus. They didn’t know it was Him. They were talking and He asked them what they were talking about. They told him that they were talking about the things concerning Jesus of Nazareth who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people and how the chief priests and their rulers had delivered Him to be condemned to death and crucified.”

“So, they were saying that the Jews were responsible for His death.”

“They condemned Him to death and then handed Him over to the Romans because it wasn’t lawful for them to put anyone to death. So, by handing them over to the Romans, they were fulfilling what Jesus Himself said, signifying the kind of death He would suffer. Crucifixion was the Roman method of capital punishment.”

“The Jews wanted Jesus dead but the Romans were the ones who actually put Him to death.”

“Yes. However, when Peter was preaching, he said to the Jews who were gathered there that Jesus whom they handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s determination to let Him go was the same Jesus who made it possible for a man who was born lame, to walk. It was this same Jesus whom they rejected and demanded that a murderer be released instead of Him.  They killed the Author of life, but God raised Him from the dead and there were witnesses of this fact. Peter told them that what the people and their leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance but, God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. Peter called for the people to repent of their sins and turn to God, so that their sins may be wiped away.  So, unlike the Christians who accused the Jews of being Christ killers, Peter is appealing to them to turn to God who will give them another chance to know the Messiah whom they had rejected, through the Gospel.”

“If Pilate was so determined to let Jesus go, why didn’t he?”

“Although he was the governor, he didn’t have the authority to let him go. When he told Jesus that he had the power to crucify or to release Him, Jesus told him ‘You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above’. It was not God’s plan for Jesus to be released. He sent Jesus into the world to save us and that could only be accomplished if Jesus went to the cross. So, even though Pilate could find no reason to put Jesus to death, there was nothing he could do to prevent it. The Jews delivered Jesus to Pilate to be crucified and the Romans carried out the crucifixion.”

“You mentioned earlier that the Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death but that it was all done in ignorance.”

“When He was hanging on the cross, Jesus asked His Father to forgive them. He said that they didn’t know what they were doing. They did what they did in ignorance of God’s plan of salvation. Their desire for Jesus’ death had nothing to do with salvation but envy. They envied Jesus because He was popular and that’s why they handed Him over to Pilate. They didn’t believe that He was the Son of God or the Savior or the Messiah. To them, He was a lawbreaker, a drunkard, a blasphemer and associated with the wrong people. Their pride and ignorance blinded them to who He really was. However, they and the Romans weren’t the only ones who played a part in Jesus’ death. We all did. We’re the reason why He went to the cross. He went there to die for all of us. Our sins are what put Him on that cross. The Bible says that Jesus died for our sins and that He gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. So, the crucifixion of Jesus was meant to happen. It was God’s plan all along. Jesus explained this to the two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus. After reminding them that it was clearly predicted by the prophets that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his time of glory, He went through the Scriptures, explaining what the passages meant and what they said about Him. “

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“So, Jesus’ death had nothing to do with one or two sets of people but the entire world and it was God’s plan.”

“Yes. So, those who accuse the Jews of killing Jesus are just spewing anti-Semitic hate. They aren’t true followers of Christ. They are as bad as people who claimed to be Christians but they were slaveowners. People use the Bible to justify slavery, racism, gender inequality and anti-Semitism.”

“It’s funny that they are anti-Semitic and Jesus Himself was a Jew.”

“The early Christians were Jews.”

“Is Adaeze’s boyfriend a Muslim?”

“No. He’s a Christian.”

“Would she be dating him if he were a Muslim?”

“I don’t know. Probably not.”

“What about you? Would you date a Muslim or a Jew?”

She smiled. “I’m dating you, aren’t I and you don’t go to church. Do you even own a Bible?”

“Chioma, I have something to tell you.”

Sources: Wikipedia; Five Guy Facts

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