Scapegoating

Matthew 5:38-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ (Matthew 5:38)

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. (Matthew 5:39)

And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. (Matthew 5:40)

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. (Matthew 5:41)

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:42)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ (Matthew 5:43)

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:44)

that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45)

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (Matthew 5:46)

And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matthew 5:47)

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

Without a doubt, one of the most challenging teachings of Jesus was radical enemy love. It's foundational to who Jesus was and is, and it's foundational to the Christian faith. But often times it stays this big, abstract concept that really doesn't affect us in our every day lives. Well, we're trying to change that in this series.


Scapegoating

Tonight I want to talk to you about the idea of scapegoating.

Matthew 27:11-14

Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. (Matthew 27:11)

When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. (Matthew 27:12)

Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” (Matthew 27:13)

But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. (Matthew 27:14)

Jesus in the final hours of his life, was blamed, accused, condemned, killed.

Blasphemy & treason.

  • The Sanhedrin - Jewish Court : Blasphemy.
  • Pilot - Roman Governor : Treason.

Both for which he was innocent. - He was blameless. In fact, Jesus was the only blameless one.

But he takes he blame. He's innocent, but he takes the blame. He doesn't defend himself.

Isaiah 53 - talks about the falsely accused scapegoat:

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

Jesus doesn't argue, defend himself. - He just takes the blame for crimes he didn't commit. Doesn't deserve any of it.


The Cross isn't just 1 thing.

  • We encounter - forgiveness of God
  • The world is set right
  • NEW: Jesus takes all the blame.

(Lamb of God)

In John - Jesus introduced by John the Baptist like this: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Now what does that mean?! "Lamb of God" -- Pretty - Cliche.

Think of it like this: The lamb of God is God becoming our scapegoat. Scapegoat: innocent one who takes the blame.

Darker Times.

Go back - darker times in human history - Men would commit horrible sin. - Rape or kill someone. - Find an innocent lamb. Project their sins on the animal and drive it away. - To them, that would absolve them of their sin. Scapegoat.


We do this all the time.

We play the blame game. So now, when we feel pressure or stress, one of the ways deal it is my blaming someone else. It's helps. It's cathartic. - Feel better. Nothing settled the soul like blame.


Groups

On a more sophisticated level: happens with groups. When groups feeling - stress, tension, rivalry, Instinct get along. So we don't like the feeling of ALL against ALL, that's no good. So we have this horrible instinct to make it US against THEM.

Survivor Show My wife and I watch survivor, and they always make alliances. So that's it's us 4 against them 4. And that helps because now it's not ALL against ALL.

SCAPEGOATING : Where we take all our stress, anxiety, and fear and project it onto a single victim. This can be a group or an individual.

It helps. We feel better. - We feel unity in our group.

Overweight Kid. Ex: Think about kids in elementary school. Everyone's nervous, self-conscious. - And then they find the fat kid. - And the other kids find unity in hating the fat kid.

The Office Bob Ex: The office - anxiety there - scary, - but around the water cooler, we unite around the fact that none of us like Bob! The boss, or whoever.

Somehow it's soothing. It's one of the foundational sins of the world. This is what racism is. Find unity is who they oppose. - "It's the blacks! It's the Mexicans!"

Go on facebook, see people uniting against: political parties, politicians, nations, opposing law enforcement, churches.

If cable news isn't about scapegoating, it's not about anything. We feel better - create - scapegoat. We feel better when we create a scapegoat. Now you're a part of this tribe. And even in things aren't going well for your tribe, at least you can unite in knowing that you're right and they're wrong.


Amazing: Spend time with Christian people: how much blame and accusation is of part of the language of Jesus followers - when they get together. These are great people. If I were to hang out with them one on one, they would give you the shirt off their back. Why is it when they come together, they unite around wicked tendency of blame?


This sin, is at the foundation of how we formed human society.

The serpent crawls into the garden, begins to subtly blame God not having their best interest at heart. Adam and Eve drink the kool-aide. Now they think they know who's good/bad. - (Us-good, them-bad).

Adam starts to blame eve, eve blames the serpent. Etc. A generation later Cain blaming and then killing his brother Abel. On and on it goes. This is how our world is formed.


We do this all the time.

Unless we're really transformed by God, we do this all day long. If we really open up our eyes, I think we will be shocked at how often we play the blame game. Whether it's on an individual level, or as a group we blame other groups. And we feel camaraderie by as a group opposing something.

As a speaker, - pumped up… I can tell you as a speaker, if I would really want to get somebody riled up, but what I could do is tell you about a common enemy and it would be surprisingly easy to unite this group in vilifying a common enemy.

"So anointed!" No it wasn't. It was the way of the world.

Peter Rollins

I recently listened to a talk by a man named Peter Rollins, who's a Irish secular Philosopher, and he's just brilliant. And he was talking about enemies. And he essentially asked this question: "Do you love your enemies like a hypochondriac loves his disease?" And at first I was like "What?!" - But essentially he explains it like this: A hypochondriac is someone who thinks they have a disease whether or not their actually have it. And they think the disease is their problem, but really the disease is the solution to their real problem. It's their way of dealing with their real problem. And what is their real problem? Fear. Fear of death. Fear of life. There's 're afraid. And so they invent a sickness that they almost definitely do not have. And their think the disease is the problem, but really the disease is the answer to their problem.

Love Trumps Hate

And he went on to talk about the slogan during the presidential election 'Love Trumps Hate'. You guys remember that one? It was anti-trump of course. And on one hand it was saying that these people thought trump was hateful. Also it meant that love was greater than hate. But when Peter Rollins saw the sign, he immediately went to a different meaning and it was this "We love trumps hate." And both political parties do this. We love the fact that the other side is hateful in our eyes. It's what cleanses us. It' what makes us clean.

I mean it sounds sick, but think about it. Having an enemy is the most comforting thing in the world. Because it's their fault.

Ok, so Jesus.

The murder of Jesus wasn't an accident. Very organized. Carefully planned behind the scenes.

Set Stage:

Let me set the stage. This is taking place maybe two or three months before Jesus's death. So this is near the end of his ministry. And the plot against him is really starting to unfold.

Jesus has just done something truly amazing. Possibly the greatest of all his miracles, raising Lazarus from the dead. He had been dead for four days. He's done this at the house of Mary and Martha.

But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. (John 11:46)

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. (John 11:47)

If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” (John 11:48)

Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! (John 11:49)

You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (John 11:50)

He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, (John 11:51)

and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. (John 11:52)

So from that day on they plotted to take his life. (John 11:53)

Okay so let me try to explain What's going on. This is where all the Jesus movies get the story wrong. They never really makes sense of why people were truly wanting to kill Jesus.


Imagine: Jerusalem - Holy City - Jewish people

You have to understand that at this time, Jerusalem is extremely volatile pressure cooker. Jerusalem is a Jewish city occupied by a foreign power - the romans. And the Jews, in their holy city, are pissed. They want this to be over. They want the Roman yoke to be taken off of them.

Jesus - announcing : "

Jesus is going around announcing the kingdom of God, the reign of God.

Caiaphas's Plan

Now Caiaphas, and you guys know who he is, he's the high priest. And by this time, that the position that's obtained by money. This is a way to keep the rich in power. His father-in-law had been the high priest, and now Caiaphas is a pretty young man, is the high priest.

So Caiaphas along with everybody else is convinced that Jesus is about to start a revolution. And I do mean everybody else Peter thinks this, John the Baptist thought when he was alive. Seems like Mary, Jesus's mother thinks that this is what's going to happen. Everybody thinks this.

But Caiaphas isn't stupid, he has political smarts and he realizes that this isn't going to end well. At least not for the Jews. Because the Romans are much more powerful than the Jews.

"These little town folk have no idea what they're getting themselves into."

They're the superpower on this earth, and if Jesus comes and starts a revolution, the romans are gonna come destroy our city, temple, people. BTW DID - 40 years later.

Caiaphas knows that if Jerusalem revolts, they will be destroyed.

  • When he gets wrong is Jesus was never going to be that.
  • Jesus was teaching a different way.
  • Kingdom of turning the other cheek.

But they didn't understand that. Pilot didn't, Peter didn't, John the Baptist didn't, Caiaphas didn't.


Here's the statement that the Christian movies miss:

Caiaphas thinks that Jesus is about to start a revolution that will lead to the killing of the jewish people.

Caiaphas says "I know what we need! We need to create a scapegoat! We've got to find a way to unify the Romans and the Jews. We'll find common ground with our oppressors by creating a common villain.

Will accuse him of blasphemy. That will make the Jews mad. - They're religious people.

Then will take him before Pilate, and pilot doesn't care anything about blasphemy, but there will accuse him of treason. For trying to start a revolution against Rome." - Unity & peace.

It totally worked!!! The Bible wants you to know that.

Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. (Luke 23:11)

That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies. (Luke 23:12)

The Bible says that when the deal went down a few weeks later, on the day that Jesus died, that pilot (Romans) and Herod (Jews) became friends. Didn't like each other but in their scapegoating of Jesus, all of a sudden they like each other. They found a way to bury the hatchet by blaming somebody else. The crisis was averted. Things calm down in Jerusalem, and everything seemed like it was cool. Temporary peace came.

So if you think about it, the plot to kill Jesus was really a good thing. I mean if you look at it at a big enough scale. Yes it's unfortunate that one man had to give his life, but now look at all the benefit. - It saved Jerusalem.

Of course there's the little thing of it being the most horrible thing that has ever happened.


But sometimes it does seem like scapegoating is actually a good thing because it can unite people. But the problem, is that it causes victims. And if the Story of cain and able teaches us anything, it's that the blood of the victims cries out to God, and God hears it.


But again, the plot totally worked.

But again, the plot worked. And there was peace and camaraderie, for awhile. Then there was hell to pay 40 years later.

A principle in the bible - violence - sow - returns to you.

Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment. (Psalm 7:14)

Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. (Psalm 7:15)

The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads. (Psalm 7:16)

We see this time and time again with the Jewish people, their violence had a way of boomeranging back onto their own heads.


Scapegoating - feels good.

Scapegoating feels good. It makes us feel better. It brings us closer together. The problem is, there's always a victim. And in this case, the victim was God himself.

And in the story of Jesus, we're all exposed.

We all become like Judas, where our eyes are opened to the horror of our own broken system.

So in revelation, Jesus is called the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. What does that mean?

Jesus has solidarity with all the Abels and none of the cains.

The world is almost entirely formed by people skilled at creating scapegoats. - Hitler. Nero. Witch-hunts.

They unite a group of people, by saying these are our enemies, and they are evil, and they are to be blamed for what't wrong here, and what we need to do is defeat them.

This record plays over and over and over and over and over.

It's the foundation of the world.


Jesus comes along, and he plays the role, not of the conquoror, but of the scapegoat. Not of cain, but of abel. So that Jesus has a solidarity with every victim of this system.


So Jesus comes, and by dying on the cross, acts in direct opposition of this way of living.

Instead of blaming, he takes the blame.

Jesus takes all the blame, so that we can stop blaming.


Jesus came back.

Jesus takes all the blame, was killed, and then came back. That's the one thing you don't want the scapegoat to do. Once you've killed them. Come back. But that's what he does, he comes back. And you'd expect, that when he comes back, there would be hell to pay. For we were the ones that sinned, blamed him, killed him, that upon returning, he comes in forgiveness.

Now, he calls us to live life without playing the blame game.


Jesus is the Lamb of God, the last Scapegoat.

Who takes away this horrible sin of the world. Exposes it, forgives it and gives us a new way.


That's one of the things The Cross does.

It brings to light our horrible sin of vilifying others. So now, we say that Jesus is the last scapegoat. Because what we are called to do, is see Jesus on the cross and then stop scapegoating.

Jesus takes all the blame. And now, we're no longer blamers.


Practical side

Big & Small.

Big

Affects how - see: The world / Other cultures / Religions / Political parties.

Small

Affects: Friendships / Marriages / Jobs / Churches.

No longer as Christians, are we allowed to make scapegoats out of anybody.

"I'll tell you what's wrong with this country. It's the liberals! It's the conservatives!"

No, that's Caiaphas, Cain, Adam.

We cannot blame our fears, anxieties, insecurities on others.


Guy at job Guy at the job who has a boss who's mean to him, He'd like to kick said boss, but he can't, for fear of losing his job. So he goes home and kicks the dog. Or maybe the kicks the wife. Or the kids. And in a sick way, it give him a perverted sense of peace and dignity, so not he can go back to the job and earn money for the family.

So if you really think about it, maybe it's a good thing? Just one problem, it creates Victims. Jesus comes to save us from this madness. Dies on the cross and takes all the blame.


"But my enemies are guilty!"

You might be saying, well yeah it's bad to blame innocent people, but my enemies are guilty!!! It's doesn't matter. We're not blamers.

What does Satan (hasatan) mean?
Devil (diablos) mean?

They mean the same thing. Accuser. Let's give it a more modern twist, and say blamer.

  • "Enough money? - their fault."
  • "Economy - so messed up?"
  • "Life bad?"

The accuser. The blamer.

Paraclete - "Holy Spirit" - "Advocate / Defender"

Courtroom : Satan - Prosecution / Jesus - Defense Which team do we wanna be on?

Woman caught in adultery John 8 :

  • Are we the people who throw the rocks?
  • Are we the people who stand between the accused and the accuser?

Where we see Jesus over and over and over.


Closing

(Prepare - Communion)

From the foundation of the world gone wrong, humanity has achieved unity by sacrificing a scapegoat.

But now, as followers of Christ, we achieve unity not by vilifying others, but we find unity under the last scapegoat, which is Jesus Christ.


No longer: Unite - Under Common enemy

Now we as followers of Jesus, we unite not under a common enemy, but under a common Savior. Who takes all the blame.

As they pass, I'd like you to think about the people that you scapegoat.

  • Do you find yourself uniting with others under a common enemy?
  • Do you relieve tension by blaming?

We all do.

But Jesus comes and shows us a better way. Wherever it is that you have those broken things, invite him in, and let him fix you.

(Pass)

Here's what great about this problem: As soon as you realize you're scapegoating, it stops working. Because you see the victims.

So look at the cross. And let it change you.

Let Jesus free you from the way of scapegoating and bring you to a place of compassion. - Solidarity with the victim, the weak, and the oppressed.

As you take communion - recommitment - follow Jesus - follow the lamb of God wherever he goes.

May your eyes continue to be opened - to the way of the cross.


(Invitation) / (Pray)

Help us to overcome the accuser.
Help us to see with the eyes of compassion rather than with the eyes of accusation.
You've taken the blame so that we can stop blaming.
Remember death Proclaim resurrection Await return

(Prayer for the Poor)