This black and white short film (3:21) depicts a train load of Jewish men, women, and children, blazoned with 6-pointed stars, arriving at a Nazi concentration camp. The frightened, despairing Jews are queued up and sorted, some to the right (work camps), some to the left (“showers”), when a sandaled and robed figure in color makes his way to the front of the line.
The officer in charge eyes the figure with a smirk, then sends him to the left with the cross he drags.
Just another Jew, he says.
The film is intended to frame the “Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah?” conversation in a new and provocative way by depicting Jesus as an iconic Jew sharing an experience which burns strong and deep in Jewish social identity—brutal suffering at the hands of other men.
And a conversation starter, this film must be. For, if viewed on its own without opportunity for dialogue, I suspect that a non-Messianic Jewish audience would only take offense. From that perspective, it is scandalous, trivializing the deaths of millions by identifying it with the death of one.
One the other hand, the film raises several very important questions which, if addressed openly, can provide an opportunity to share the Christian perspective on Jesus’ suffering. Indeed, the Jews for Jesus organization is seizing this opportunity by creating the “That Jew Died for You” project, a supporting collection of testimonial videos on Youtube of holocaust survivors who have trusted Jesus of Nazareth to be Yeshua HaMashiach.
From the Jewish perspective, the film raises important questions about Jesus’ relation to the modern Jew:
⟩ What does Jesus’ suffering have to do with our suffering?
⟩ If Jesus is the Messiah, why didn’t he save himself, and us?
From the Christian perspective, the film gives opportunity to address theological questions like:
⟩ In what way was Jesus’ suffering unique?
⟩ What did Jesus’ suffering accomplish?
⟩ Who did Jesus suffer for?
Jesus and his apostles provide direct, credible, and unambiguous answers to these questions. But gaining a hearing can be nigh impossible when people aren’t asking the questions.
It my prayerful hope that “That Jew Died for You” will raise these issues in the minds of Jewish people, and that subsequent conversations will present a credible witness to Jesus’ claims to be God incarnate, the bread and light of life, the Jew who died for you.