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No Anti-Semitism in the Bible

Nowhere in any of the Gospels or in Acts is Israel repudiated as Israel.  Quite the opposite: Jesus Christ is the son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1), heir to David’s throne, and forever sovereign over all the house of Israel (Luke 1:32–33; Acts 2:36). Even in the Fourth Gospel, whose antagonists are stereotyped as “the Jews” (John 7:1;18:36), Jesus’ Jewish identity persists (4:9), some Jews believe in him (8:31), and Jesus himself attests that “salvation is from the Jews” (4:22).  To divorce Jesus from Judaism or to deny our own adoption by God as children of Abraham is to commit the arrogance of a wild olive shoot: boasting over broken branches, pretending to support ourselves instead of acknowledging our dependence on Israel’s adoption, glory, covenants, and promises (Romans 9:4–5; 11:17–24).  Paul’s warning stands: “Get off your high horse, and be afraid!

Ironically, the deeper our appreciation of ancient Judaism, the keener our perception of the contemporary church.  Absorb the scholarship of W.D. Davies, Jacob Neusner, and E.P. Sanders: learn that the Pharisees were not sanctimonious prigs but progressive reformers who sought to dedicate every aspect of life to God’s glory.  They were the devout, seriously religious people who now attend Christian Sunday schools and Inter-Varsity Bible studies.  Likewise, “the elders and chief priests and scribes,” so threatened by Jesus that they collude in his destruction, live on in today’s seminarians, tall-steeple pastors, and biblical scholars.  The comic strip’s Pogo was correct: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We cannot preach from the Gospels with insight until we extract the sequoia from our own eyes (Matthew 7:5).

- C. Clifton Black, "The Blessings and Curses of Preaching: A Sermon for Sermoners," InSpire, Winter 2004
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