It was on this day, in 1205, that Pope Innocent III decreed, as church doctrine, that all Jews were to be considered as perpetually doomed to servitude and subjugation because of their involvement with the crucifixion of the Messiah. This remained official church doctrine until sometime in the 1960s.
Obviously, the attitude that inspired this declaration was steeped in hatred and is indicative of those who believe the accusation leveled at Jacob by Esau when he said to Isaac, “Did you not rightly name him Jacob, for he has supplanted me” (Gen. 27:36). Since that time many people, thinking they’re supporting God’s will, have viewed Israel as being tricksters, deceivers and Christ-killers. As far as the label, “Christ Killer,” the Messiah had this to say:
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:17-18)
For someone to take the position that Jews should be condemned as Christ-killers is ludicrous. His death on the tree and subsequent resurrection is exactly why Yeshua came to this earth – it was the Father’s will and instruction. The Psalmist wrote, prophetically, that:
“The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:22)
It was the Lord’s “doing” that the stone be rejected and that He might become the chief cornerstone. Everyone who has been born again should consider that to be marvelous. What if He had not been crucified? Where would we all be? Paul said that we would remain in our sins and, thus, be condemned. So again, we should be thankful for His crucifixion and His resurrection, because it was a demonstration of His mercy and forgiveness toward us. Remember what Messiah said as He hung on the tree, dying:
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Even as He was dying, He was being merciful, pleading for the Father to extend forgiveness to the ignorant. And so, do we believe that the Father heard His prayer? More importantly, do we believe that the Father honored His prayer? Of course, He did and that means that no one group should be labeled as Christ-killer. In reality, we must recognize that we are all Christ-killers because it was our collective sins that placed Him on that tree. The good news is that the mercy and love He demonstrated on the cross, forgiving those who were abusing Him, is available to us today. The Father remains attentive to the Son’s prayer and will, no doubt, honor the Son’s prayer today, just as He did 2,000 years ago. As the Apostle John reminds us:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleans us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
An admission of our transgression and the acknowledgement of our sin is all it takes to access God’s mercy and forgiveness. It seems to me that Pope Innocent, and others like him, sought to deflect responsibility of their own sins and then project it onto someone else. In other words, he didn’t view Messiah’s death as atonement for his sins but the consequence of someone else’s sins. Again, that’s a ridiculous point of view because, as I said, all of us, including Pope Innocent, placed the Messiah on that tree. I am the Christ-killer. You are the Christ-killer. But, thankfully, He doesn’t hold that against us because we really didn’t appreciate what we were doing. He willingly died on our behalf and, now, simply asks that we acknowledge our offenses that we might embrace the forgiveness that He prayed to the Father to provide to us. It’s so simple and yet it’s so profound.
Keep in mind that the Messiah’s suffering should have been our suffering; therefore, let us show our gratitude for His sacrifice with a willingness to sacrifice our will and desires and serve Him. May we commit ourselves to carry our cross as we follow Him each and every day, thanking Him for His abundant mercy and forgiveness.