In any survey of the relationship between the Church and the Synagogue—their respective communities—through history, the report would declare a tumultuous history. Any case of graduated tensions mentions ambivalence, and those exceptions are rarely surpassed with friendliness. Though the suffering Savior “abolished in His flesh the enmity between” Jew and Gentile, one is hard-pressed to find historical tranquility between Jew and Christian. Worse yet, as far as one party would be concerned, the other is always to blame. Jewish Pharisees murdered early Christian converts. The city of Jerusalem unrepentantly bore bloody hands at Calvary. The tectonic plates shifted violently in the bar-Kochba rebellion, creating a canyon between Abraham’s sons by seed or by faith.
This canyon has become the ‘impasse’ between the Church and the Synagogue; the dreadfully irreconcilable chasm between the resentful prodigal brothers. With a sordid history of mutual persecution between both parties, neither can stand upon any claim of innocence before the Judge of Heaven and Earth—with the exception, perhaps, of those “washed, cleansed, sanctified, and redeemed” by the atoning work of the Jewish King.
Therein lies the awful truth: no tongue washed by the Messiah ever had a right to lash out against His people, no matter their rebellion. No filthy hand cleansed in Emmanuel’s flood ever had a right to strike the people of the Synagogue, regardless of their stubborn obstinance against the Man from Nazareth. No heart purged in regenerating fire ever had a right to turn against the Jewish people in resentment, disgust, or hatred.
Yet that is what we have done.
That Nazi politicians ever had a theological father to quote in support of their murderous and demonic atrocities alone is enough to indict Christian history and require investigation. It is not enough to say the Church has progressed or matured beyond Luther’s repulsive admonitions in The Jews and their Lies—the Bride is not so white to make such audacious claims. We have to ask why centuries allowed the anti-Judaism of Saint Augustine, the anti-Semitism of Luther, and now makes room for the anti-Zionism of Sizer, Wright, Chapman and Burge.
No disciple can responsibly ignore Jacob’s covenantal infidelity. No disciple should. Jeremiah stood with a condemned Israel in intercession, and against a wicked Israel in her sin. Yet since the terrible cry before Pilate, the Church has often held fast to Israel’s condemnation and refused to intercede. It is almost as if we resent mercy. The prophet reminds us to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly” before the God of Israel, yet we seem undisturbed by the blasphemy produced by Israel’s unfaithfulness. Further still, the Church has audaciously “redefined” terms so as to be free of responsibility towards the Jew. But Cain, where is your brother?
The Pharisee who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen later wrote, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Saul of Tarsus became a magnificent trophy of magnificent grace, and we love him for it. The Author of our faith saved the Apostle Paul from becoming a second Jonah, and conceived in him an incredible burden for Gentiles—for you; for me. He bravely brought the “mystery of Israel” before former pagans, and warned them—us—against the arrogance that would inevitably grow from ignorance. The historical impasse condemns Rome’s disregard. The People of the Cross have spent centuries dancing with ignorance, arrogance, and irresponsible imitation.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And bring found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore, God has also highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
By grace, we’ve been apprehended by Jesus Christ the Righteous, who in innocence initiated reconciliation with His enemies. We were His enemies. We aren’t anymore. Jacob, hardened in part for our sake, remains an enemy of the Gospel yet beloved for his fathers’ sakes. With reverent trepidation, we imitate Paul who bore chains “for the hope of Israel” and the Son of David who bore a cross so He could bear their—and our—curse. We initiate a reconciled relationship. If that initiation is met with scorn, we don’t throw a tantrum about it like Martin Luther did. We don’t boast against the broken branches, sobered by Paul’s warning our own branch may be broken if need be. “Is this not a reason, then, that the Gospel should first be preached to the Jew? They are ready to perish—to perish more dreadfully than other men. The cloud of indignation and wrath that is even now gathering above the lost, will break first upon the head of the guilty, unhappy, unbelieving Israel. And have you none of the bowels of Christ in you, that you will not run first to them that are in so sad a case?”
1. Ephesians 2:12
2. See Acts 7
3. See Matthew 27:25
4. The bar-Kochba rebellion was the initial divide between the Church and the Synagogue; Rabbi Akiva announced bar-Kochba to be Messiah and revolted against the Romans. The Judeo-Christians believed in Jesus as Messiah and were unable to participate in the revolt. When the revolt failed it only further distanced the greater Jewish community from the Jewish believers in Jesus who were unable to participate in the revolt while mainaining their convictions about Jesus’ identity.
5. I Corinthians 6:11
6. Worryingly, these men are all in vocational positions of church leadership, either in congregational or academic settings.
7. 1 Corinthians 11:1
8. Romans 11:25
9. Philippians 2:5-11
10. Romans 11:28
11. Acts28:20; Galatians 3:10-14
12. Romans 11:18
13. M’Cheyne, Robert M. Our Duty to Israel, 1839. Read Here