At the trial of Jesus, an angry mob, provoked by their leaders, called for Jesus’ death and cried out, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” (Matt 27:25). These terrible words have fueled the belief that God permanently rejected Israel and abandoned the Jewish people in judgment. Thankfully, this is not the case.
Jesus’ remarks concerning the shedding of Zechariah’s innocent blood in Matthew 23, foreshadowed the shedding of his own innocent blood which would pollute the Temple and bring about its ultimate destruction, as well as the destruction of the Holy City of Jerusalem. The rabbis also believed that both the Temple and the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed for the shedding of innocent blood. Because of the sin of bloodshed, the Tosefta reveals, “the Shekinah has departed and the Sanctuary is defiled” (t. Yoma 1:12b).
But did Jesus’ death signify that God abandoned Israel as so many insist? Absolutely not! While the Prophets did proclaim that God would punish Israel for its unbelief, they also insisted that He would redeem, purify, and restore Israel because of His covenant faithfulness. Matthew juxtaposes the people’s cry for Jesus’ death before his execution with the miraculous events that took place at the very moment of his death. Evoking Ezekiel’s prophecy of the dry bones (Ez. 37) that would come to life (symbolizing Israel’s spiritual renewal and physical restoration), Matthew reports that the tombs opened and many “holy ones” were raised and entered the still “Holy City” (Matt 27:50-53).
This miraculous event anticipated Israel’s future purification and restoration under the LORD’s Davidic Shepherd-King (Ezekiel 34: 23-31).
God, in His mercy, refused to grant the request of the angry mob. He did not curse the Jewish people because of the death of Jesus. Jerusalem was indeed destroyed in 70CE, but that is not where the story ends!