Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Could Jesus accuse people of a crime when they were innocent?
Yes! Jesus accused the Jewish leaders of His day of guilt for a crime committed before any of them were born. His charge against them sounds unreasonable.
The story is in Matthew 23. Jesus has just upbraided the scribes and Pharisees with a series of "woes" accompanied by vivid flashes of irony and indignation. He concludes by springing on them this charge of murdering a certain Zechariah: "That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar" (vs. 35).
For years I assumed that this Zechariah was a victim whom Christ's hearers had personally murdered in the temple during their lifetime, not more than 30 or 40 years previous. It was a shock to discover that this man was murdered some 800 years earlier. (The story is recorded in 2 Chronicles 24:20, 21.) Why did Jesus charge the guilt of this crime on the Jews of His day?
When we see the principle of corporate guilt, the picture becomes clear. Jesus was not unfair. In rejecting Him, the Jewish leaders were acting out all human guilt from A to Z (Abel to Zechariah), even though they may not as yet have personally committed a single act of murder. They were in spirit one body with their fathers who had actually shed the blood of the innocent Zechariah in the temple. In other words, they would do it again, and they did do it--to Jesus.
Now, by refusing the call to repentance which John the Baptist and Jesus had sent them, they had chosen to acquire the guilt of all murders of innocent victims ever since the days of Abel. One who could not err fastened the entire load on them.
In order to understand how Jesus was thinking, we need to see clearly the Hebrew idea of corporate personality. The church is the "Isaac" of faith, Abraham's true descendant, "one body" with him and with all true believers of all ages. To Jewish and Gentile believers alike, Paul says Abraham is "our father" (Rom. 4:1-13). To the Gentile believers he says, "Our fathers were ... all baptized into Moses." "We were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks" (1 Cor. 10:1, 2; 12:13). We "all" means past generations and the present generation.
Christ's body is all who have ever believed in Him from Adam down to the last remnant who welcome Him at His return. In the pattern of Paul's thinking, "all" are one individual.
--Robert J. Wieland
From: "As Many As I Love ...," 1986.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread.