The Bible and the Squirrel Hill Shooting
The Wonderful Jesus: A Jew
The Bible is focused on the person, the work, and the teachings of Jesus Christ- a thoroughly Jewish man.
When the God who created the heavens and the earth decided to incarnate Himself into a man 2,000 years ago, He chose a Jewish man, with a Jewish mother and a Jewish step-father. He was born in a tiny Jewish village, Bethlehem, in a small Jewish country—Israel. He was circumcised the eighth day at the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, and attended regularly the synagogue services in his home town of Nazareth, traveling back faithfully to Jerusalem three times a year to celebrate the major Jewish feasts.
Jesus the Christ is a Jew. He is the Lord and Savior of all. All of His apostles were Jewish. The early church was 100% Jewish. All the writers of the Bible, except one, are Jewish.
His main message was love. He said “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15)
Jesus reached out specifically to the lowest of the social ladder of his time: to lepers, sinners, prostitutes, the lame, the blind, the poor.
He didn’t just speak love; He lived it, giving up His own life for the life of the world.
Ironically, the man responsible for these deaths on Saturday, quoted Jesus in his bio, saying
“jews are the children of satan. (john 8:44),” and, “the lord jesus Christ is come in the flesh.”
The shooter, who exclaimed “All Jews must die” when entering the synagogue called Jesus, a Jewish man, his lord. Ironic also is the bible chapter he quotes from. John 8 is about Jesus addressing his fellow Jews:
"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Free from what, you may ask? “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin’
Falsehood can enslave people’s minds. Hatred can enslave people’s hearts. It can fill people. In the crowd Jesus was addressing were some Jewish people who were plotting to murder Jesus. To them Jesus spoke the verse that the shooter wildly takes out of context:
"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
Truth and Love
Falsehood and murder are close companions. The message of Jesus was truth and love: exact opposites. It is not Jews who are the children of Satan. It is murderers. The Anti-Defamation League logged a 57 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2017, compared to the previous year — including bomb threats, assaults, vandalism, and anti-Semitic posters and literature found on college campuses. Attacks on Jews are on the rise in Europe as well, with frequent anti-Semitic incidents in France and Germany (New York Times).
My prayer is that we all would not just remember and pray for the victims, the families of the victims (as we should), but to pray for our own hearts. I pray that we all take the person and words of this wonderful man, Jesus, to heart—the words of truth, the only antidote for falsehood, and His words of love, the only cure for hate.
When I went to the site of the shootings on Saturday night in Squirrel Hill, a place I lived for 20 years, where we raised our four children, to reflect and pray, and also when I gathered with many at the courthouse tonight in Greensburg for a vigil, I had two feelings. First was encouragement for all those who came to mourn, reflect, and dedicate their lives to truth. But the main feeling I had was for those who were not there, for the lonely ones --detached, isolated, disillusioned, at home right now, basting their minds on internet falsehoods that feed bigotry and hate, and violence. You might know such a person. Perhaps you can reach that person.