Judgment or reconciliation?
There was no tolerance in the law of Moses for those who would
kill innocent people:
"Show him no pity. You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent
blood, so that it may go well with you" (Deu
Even when it was not known who had committed the crime, the
elders were called to make a sacrifice and declare their innocence:
"Then all the elders of the town nearest the body shall wash their hands over
the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley, and they shall declare: 'Our
hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it done'" (Deu
And the one who murdered the innocent for money was under a
" 'Cursed is the man who accepts a bribe to kill an innocent person.' Then all
the people shall say, 'Amen!' " (Deu
But that was exactly what happened in the murder of
"When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized
with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the
elders. 'I have sinned,' he said, 'for I have betrayed innocent blood.' 'What is
that to us?' they replied. 'That's your responsibility' " (Mat
So, it was no news when Peter declared to the men of
"You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are
witnesses of this" (Acts 3:15).
And in Acts 2 Peter pointed out that they did not do this
alone -- they had joined themselves with the wicked to accomplish
"This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and
you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross"
So it was an alliance of Israel and Gentiles that murdered the
Lord Jesus. However, Jesus used an even broader brush when he held a whole
"Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your
forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your
forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of
this, God in his wisdom said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of
whom they will kill and others they will persecute.' Therefore this generation
will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed
since the beginning of the world" (Luke 11:47-50).
Zechariah, whom the LORD sent to warn the people about their
disobedience, as Jesus did -- murdered!
"And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth,
from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom
you murdered between the temple and the altar" (Mat 23:35).
Abel, who offered God a better sacrifice (Heb 11), as Jesus would -- murdered!
Killing the prophets
Let's take a closer look at the stoning of Zechariah in the
temple in 840 BC:
"After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the
king, and he listened to them. They abandoned the temple of the LORD, the God of
their fathers, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt,
God's anger came upon Judah and Jerusalem. Although the LORD sent prophets to
the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them,
they would not listen. Then... Zechariah... stood before the people and said,
'This is what God says: "Why do you disobey the LORD's commands? You will not
prosper. Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you." ' But they
plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the
courtyard of the LORD's temple. King Joash did not remember the kindness
Zechariah's father had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying,
'May the LORD see this and call you to account' " (2Ch
Refining the reference to idolatry, there is a parallel to
Jesus spoke of the generation that would be condemned for the
death of all the righteous (Luke 11:50 above), and he said that it was "this
generation", ie, the one to whom he was speaking then. The Greek word translated
"generation" is the same word as in Matthew 24:34:
- The Jews preferred doing evil to doing what was
- God sent warnings through a
- But the people would not
- And so they killed the prophet instead --
to silence him.
"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all
these things have happened."
And while there was a more immediate fulfillment, much of what
he described will be at the end of the age. Whatever "generation" means here, it
lasts a long time!
The Greek "genea" may signify a period, a time, an age, or a
race of people possessed of similar characteristics.
And the characteristics held in common between Jew and Gentile
are wickedness, a refusal to listen, and acting against those whom God has
"God's wrath is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and
wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness" (Rom
The righteous judgment about to fall on the earth will strike
Jew and Gentile alike, with no partiality:
"For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in
Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those
churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and
also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort
to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way
they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them
at last" (1Th 2:14-16).
Hearing the truth is intolerable to the wicked. When they rise
up to suppress it, they bring judgment on themselves. This happened in the
murder of Jesus.
Jesus saw the division of men into two camps: not Jew and
Gentile so much as those who would stand with him, and those who would oppose
"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me
scatters" (Mat 12:30).
Those who oppose the work of God are condemned:
"By his faith, he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that
comes by faith" (Heb 11:7).
This last passage was written about Noah, but it can also
apply to Christ:
"For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful
nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin
offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man" (Rom
God condemned sin in sinful man, or "sin in the flesh" (KJV).
When He condemned sin in the flesh, He condemned sin, the works of sin, and the
people of sin. Mankind and all its works and wonders were condemned.
The murder of Jesus was the ultimate rejection of God's love,
allowing God to be just or righteous in bringing His judgments on the world. And
yet, even so, condemnation was not why Jesus was here...
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his
Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him"
How can this be? Jesus came into a world that was already
condemned by the sin of Adam, which had poisoned the stream of human life,
leaving the human species in an abnormal, degenerate state.
And while the condemnation of sin in the flesh means the wrath
of God for the wicked, for the believer it brings reconciliation with
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners,
Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more
shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!... when we were God's enemies,
we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son" (Rom
Or, as it is stated in Rom 8:1,
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ
In the end, there is no Jew and there is no Gentile; there are
only those in Christ -- and the rest. In the death of Christ, there is judgment
and reconciliation in a single stroke. Judgment for the world, and
reconciliation for those who are Christ's.
What does that mean for you?
"Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it
while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge,
and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into
prison" (Mat 5:25).
Make your peace with God before you go to the judgment seat of
Christ -- you do not know what his judgment will be! Your salvation is
conditional on your willingness to listen and act upon the gospel
There is a story of a young soldier brought to Confederate
General Robert E. Lee for his misdeeds. The young man was obviously nervous in
the presence of the great commander. General Lee told him, "There's nothing to
be frightened of, son. You'll find justice here." To this the young man replied,
"I know, sir. That's what I'm a-skeered of!"
In conclusion, those who are in Christ stand with him in the
fight against sin:
"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its
passions and desires" (Gal 5:24).
So, are you in Christ? Have you joined with him in the fight
to the death against sin? The time to decide, and to make a commitment, is