That Jew Died For You

BFB140423 Yellow Magen David

Why should Christians care that this Sunday, April 27, is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day?  Isn’t that something we have been over enough since 1945?  It is a Jewish thing, after all.  It was a huge tragedy, but we can’t do anything more about it now.  We just have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  So just leave it at that.  Let the Jews and the Israelis have their memorial, and we’ll get on with our lives.

Except I can’t leave it at that.  This is not just a Jewish thing.  It is a human thing.

I have written before, and will write again, about the Biblical truth that all those who have a testimony of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) are just as much Israelites as Jews.  That alone should be enough for Christians to care.  As the very Jewish Apostle Paul so clearly stated, the Jews are the natural branches of this olive tree called Israel, and we non-Jews are grafted in from among the nations by the grace of God.  We grafted-in branches dare not boast against that root; it’s what supports us.  We cut it off, and cut ourselves off from it, at our own great peril (Romans 11:11-18).

Lest there be any doubt, take five minutes right now and consider this video:

It may not surprise you to learn that Jews for Jesus made this video.  They had very good reason to do so.  Here is what they said:

“Jesus has often been wrongly associated with the perpetrators of the Holocaust.  In reality, he is to be identified with those who were the victims.  As a Jew, if he were in Europe at the time, Jesus may well have suffered the same fate of the six million who perished in the concentration camps.

“Jewish teaching promotes the idea that the death of Jews in the Holocaust accomplished kiddish-ha-Shem, the sanctification of God’s name.  How much more then, the Bible tells us, Jesus’ death was intended by God for Kiddush-ha-am, the sanctification of the people.  Through him we can be made right with God.”

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.  – Hebrews 13:12

Holocaust Remembrance Day is a very, very human thing.  In truth, it has happened more than once.  We merely remember the greatest modern example, which happens to be the best documented.

And still we are in danger of forgetting.

And still we are in danger of letting it happen again –

– in Europe

– in Syria

– in Rwanda

– in Cambodia

– in Chile

– in China

– in Ukraine

– in Armenia

– and in America.

Surely it can’t happen here, you say.  But I say, yes, it has, and it will again.  If a madman can kill three innocent people in Kansas City just because he thinks they are Jews, then it can happen here.  As a historian who has looked at these things from many angles, I can assure you no one is immune, not even good Christians.  Nearly 400 years ago, our Puritan ancestors launched a war of annihilation against the Pequot Nation of Connecticut.  Hundreds of Pequot died, others were enslaved, and the survivors were scattered, not to become a nation again until 350 years later.

How could Christian people do this?  It began innocently enough.  They looked upon their Native American neighbors as less enlightened than themselves, as bereft of the blessings of Christian enlightenment.  When the Pequot did not recognize their supposed inferiority and become disciples of English Puritanism, they became instead obstacles in the path of civilization.  That is how it always happens.

The Pequot story is the story of so many others, including the Jews.  It is the Jews that concern us now, for the Holocaust remembers the systematic attempt at wiping the memory of Jews from off the planet.  In 1947, even as the horrors of the Holocaust were becoming known, and Jews struggled to bring Israel into existence as a nation, producer Daryl Zanuck, director Elia Kazan, and actor Gregory Peck collaborated on a film that embraced the issue head on.  The result was Gentleman’s Agreement, a movie that unmasked anti-Semitism in America.  Gentleman’s Agreement won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director, not because it documented blatant neo-Nazi racist rants, but because it demonstrated how nice, normal people, even nice Jewish people, stoked the furnace of anti-Semitism by unthinking word, actions, and non-actions belying a deep-seated programming that indicated Jews were somehow not quite as good as Christians.  In the film, Peck’s character, a journalist, pretended to be Jewish so that he could experience anti-Semitism first-hand.  The revelation of his true identity as a Gentile shocked everyone, including Miss Wales, his Jewish secretary.  Addressing her dismay, Peck’s character said this:

“What’s so upsetting about that, Miss Wales?  There is some difference between Jews and Christians?  Look at me hard.  I’m the same man I was yesterday.  That’s true, isn’t it?  Why should you be so astonished, Miss Wales?  Still can’t believe anybody would give up the glory of being a Christian for even eight weeks?  That’s what’s eating you, isn’t it?  If I tell you that’s anti-Semitism, your feeling of being Christian is better than being Jewish, you’ll say I’m heckling you again, I’m twisting your words around, or it’s just facing facts, as someone else said to me yesterday.  Face me. Look at me.  Same face, same eyes, same nose, same suit, same everything.  Here.  Take my hand.  Feel it!  Same flesh as yours, isn’t it?  No different today than yesterday.  The only thing that’s different is the word Christian.”

An unspoken message of Gentleman’s Agreement is that it is not a far stretch to move from the attitude of “not quite as good” to “less than human”, and from there to, “worthy of elimination”.  Indeed, yes, it can happen here.  It can happen anywhere.  And the greatest tragedy is that Christians, who should embrace Jews as fellow believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are all too often the ones who let the evil proceed unabated.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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About Albert J. McCarn

I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth, an avid student of the Bible, a devoted husband and father, a 29-year veteran of the United States Army, and a historian who connects people with their own stories.

5 responses to “That Jew Died For You”

  1. Bernhard Rosenberg says :

    Subject: I do not agree with those who are attacking the video showing Jesus carrying a cross and being sent to the showers from the gates to Auschwitz

    I am the son of Holocaust survivors. Most of my family perished in the Holocaust, either in the crematorium or they were shot dead on the street. Like many children of Holocaust survivors I never had grandparents. I became a rabbi as a concept of never again. I vowed that I’d do everything in my power to stop evil and to make certain that people that are like the Nazis, demons that they are, would never succeed.

    When I viewed the film, “That Jew Died For You,” I recognized it as a movie of compassion. I am not a stranger to this subject having just authored a new book The Holocaust as Seen Through Film, one of the many books that I have written with a Holocaust theme.

    I do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah but I do believe he was a Jew. I am completely non-judgmental with regards to anyone’s religious observances. I don’t judge anybody because I did not go into the clergy for religious sake. I went into clergy for humanity’s sake. There are not too many Holocaust survivors’ kids around that think the way I do.

    I do not agree with those who are attacking the video showing Jesus carrying a cross and being sent to the showers from the gates to Auschwitz. If Jesus were at Auschwitz he would have been murdered just for being a Jew. If anything the attack on this video bolsters Jews for Jesus, which I’m sure was not the intent of those critics. I think that the purpose of the video was to show that indeed Jesus was a Jew; whether you accept him as the Messiah is up to you. LET ME STATE CLEARLY: I DO NOT ENDORSE JEWS FOR JESUS OR THEIR BELIEFS. But I think their intent was not to harm our Jewish people but to depict Jesus as the observant Jew he was. The historical Jesus was a devout Jew.

    I witnessed Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ in Manhattan when it first came out and there was an uproar—there was a fear that it would create a lot of anti-Semitism because of the way that Jesus is persecuted and victimized. The fact is Jesus, at least the spiritual Jesus, was supposed to die and be resurrected and that did happen in this film. It was not the Jews that killed Jesus; rather it was Pontius Pilate and the Romans. In fact, if you saw that picture, you would see that the Roman soldiers did the floggings. Many people do not understand history at all.

    I believe that it was the teachings of the Church, not Jesus, that allowed Hitler to spread his ideology of hatred for the Jews. I am happy that the teachings of the Church regarding the Jewish people have changed. A special thank you to the Christians who support the state of Israel.

    The bottom line is that Jesus’ message was not to hate the Jews, but to love all humanity, and he would certainly not say that one should hate his own people. Instead of hatred in the world, there should be love. And if that was the message Jesus communicated, then that was an outstanding message for all of mankind. During this period of Easter and Passover, as well as the remembrance of the Holocaust, may love conquer evil and may we together fight hatred and intolerance.

    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard H. Rosenberg

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    • The Barking Fox says :

      Rabbi Rosenberg:

      Thank you for your comments. It is an honor to have someone of your stature to share your observations. The Holocaust has not affected me personally in the way it has affected you, but it has weighed heavily on me as I have come to understand what it has done to all of us. I felt it when I visited Auschwitz, Dachau, and other sites associated with the Holocaust, and because of that I, too, want to make sure that this never happens again.

      You are right to say, “it was the teachings of the Church, not Jesus, that allowed Hitler to spread his ideology of hatred for the Jews.” When Christianity denies the Jewishness of the one we believe is the Messiah, then we have truly cut ourselves off from the foundation of our faith. Worse yet, we have cut ourselves off from the very people we Christians should honor and embrace for transmitting the words of God to the whole world. It is encouraging to see Christians begin to awaken to this reality, and to see some like Pastor Jobst Bittner, founder of the March of Remembrance, lead the way in raising Holocaust awareness and bridging the divide between Christians and Jews. That, I believe, was the intent behind “That Jew Died for You”, and it was in that spirit that I posted the video on this blog.

      Thank you for mentioning your latest book. It looks like one I should read very soon!

      Regards,

      Al McCarn

      Like

  2. Bernhard Rosenberg says :

    CHRISTIANITY persecuted the Jews throughout the ages in the name of Jesus. The Jews were to be the wandering people with no land. This was the message of the Church. . Hitler FOLLOWED THE DICTATES of Martin Luther who truly hated the Jews. Jesus had nothing to do with this, but all was done in his name. Rabbi DR. BERNHARD Rosenberg

    Like

    • The Barking Fox says :

      As a Christian it grieves me to say you are right in this. Much of the message of the church for nearly two millennia has been anti-Semitic, starting with the conscious effort to distance Christianity from the Hebraic roots of our faith established by the very Jewish Jesus and his Torah-observant Jewish apostles. We cannot deny that this phenomenon we call “replacement theology” in its various forms led to the expulsion of Jews from country after country in Europe, to the Crusades, and eventually to the Shoah. What many of us are coming to understand is that in causing these things to come upon Jews, whether actively or through inaction, we have wounded ourselves. As the apostle Paul said, “do not boast against the branches, but if you o boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.” (Romans 11:18) He was talking about our debt to Jews and Judaism, going all the way back to our common spiritual father, Abraham. It is in belated recognition of this fact that the Hebrew Roots Movement has arisen in recent years. There may be little we can do to right the wrongs of the past, but at least we can begin walking in the path of righteousness given by God through Moses and the Prophets, and modeled by Jesus and the Apostles. In this way perhaps we can at last be one people again, just as Hosea and Ezekiel prophesied long ago. Perhaps now is the time that the word of Zechariah will come to pass, “Thus says the LORD of Hosts: ‘In those days ten men from the every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’” (Zechariah 8:23)

      Like

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