How Did Jesus View the Jews?
Q: In what ways did Jesus of Nazareth view the role of Jews who were living under Roman rule?
A: Jesus considered them His own people, descendants of the patriarchs and heirs to the promises made to them. These were the “lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 10:6)” to whom He came first. However, even though Jesus was one of them, He often went contrary to their goals and dreams. He constantly worked against the notion that their Messiah would lead His people in revolt against the occupying foreign forces. When questioned on this topic by Pontius Pilate, “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ (John 18:36)”
He never urged them to rise up against the Romans, instead indicating that even if their rulers were pagans, they still owed allegiance to a government established by God. This is clearly indicated when he was questioned about Hebrew law concerning payment of taxes to Caesar. The Jewish leaders attempted to pin Jesus down to an answer that would cause either the Romans or His own people to take action against him. Jesus neatly covered both sides of this coin by showing them a Roman coin. His subsequent comment — “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21)” — showed the Jews and later believers that God intends for us to support the authorities whom He places over us.
For years the disciples misunderstood Him. Up to the night Judas that betrayed Him, the Twelve looked for signs that Jesus was readying himself and them for a rebellion against the Romans. Only after His resurrection did they begin to realize that His conquest was not by might but by meekness and that His foes were sin, death, and devil, not Roman legions. As they scattered out from Jerusalem into “all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth, (Acts 1:8)” Jesus told them to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)” and “teaching them (v. 20)” what He’d taught the disciples.
Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.
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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.
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Newspaper column #555:2