by Bill Nugent
It’s been splashed all over the news recently that the actor Mel Gibson (of Braveheart fame) is producing a movie about the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. There were complaints from a number of individuals and organizations that the movie depicted the Jews as responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. The movie is not to be released until the end of 2003. There have been only a few private screenings of the rough cut. If the movie is true to the New Testament record then the charge of anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. The New Testament (and prophetic foretelling in the Old Testament) make it very clear as to why Jesus died and who is responsible for His death. More than 700 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah the prophet, under divine inspiration, wrote about the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Isaiah foretold not only why the Messiah (Hebrew Messiah = Greek Christos = English Christ) would die but identified the parties responsible for His death. Isaiah wrote the following passage about the coming Messiah in the 53rd chapter of his book:
He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. . . . . His grave was assigned to be with wicked men, Yet with a rich man in His death;[ The New Testament records that Jesus was entombed in the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea - a rich man.] He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors"(Isaiah 53: 5,6,9,12 NASB)
The above passage makes it plain that the Messiah was to come to die for our sins. Jesus came to take God’s wrath for our sins upon Himself so that we can receive forgiveness and thereby avoid the condemnation of hell. Since Jesus came to die for our sins that makes all people who have ever sinned responsible for the death of Jesus Christ.
Since the Bible teaches that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and that our sins provided the reason for Jesus’ death how can anyone blame the Jews alone for His death? Anti-Semitism is contrary to the New Testament.
Furthermore, Jesus Himself said that He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”(Matthew 20:28 NASB). Jesus also said “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep . . . No one has taken it [His life] 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 10:11,18 NASB). Jesus willingly laid down His life on our behalf and took up His life again in resurrection glory. The resurrection of Christ was also foretold centuries before in prophecies recorded in the Old Testament.
I’ve read that Mel Gibson wants his movie to be so authentic that throughout the movie only Aramaic and Latin are spoken. He had to be persuaded to put in subtitles. It should make interesting viewing.