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Us and our children

In the account of the passion in Matthew, the crowd responds to Pilate’s declaration of innocence with the cry “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matt 27:25). A curious irony is found here. In that the people here are taking on the responsibility for Christ’s death but do so in language that seems utterly Passoverish. And indeed, as it turns out Christ’s blood will be “on” them and their children. Just as the blood of the Passover lamb protected the families of Israel in Egypt from the angel of death, so also Christ’s blood will protect and save the very ones who shed it without regard for him.

But it doesn’t stop there. With the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost and the attending proclamation of the gospel of the resurrection, Peter claims that “This promise is for you and your children” (Acts 2:39).

Here we see the ironic and futile nature of our resistance to Christ and the radical superabundance of God’s self-giving in response to our hatred and violence. We go out for blood, thoughtlessly throwing our children in with us. God responds to us by coming to us again, as our victim, with words of forgiveness and promise. Where we would condemn ourselves and our children, God continues to come again to us with promise, with the Spirit, with new, vivifying life.


  1. Bobby Grow wrote:

    I like this thought, Halden. God doesn’t quit, that’s just who He is . . . He really doesn’t take “no” for an answer. Our “no” ultimately becomes His “yes,” it’s good to have a God like this — a living God!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink
  2. So much harm has been caused by bad exegesis of this passage, it’s good to have alternative (and rich!) approaches. Thanks for the post.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 11:07 am | Permalink
  3. Doug Harink wrote:

    Good word, Halden.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
  4. Brad E. wrote:

    Ditto and amen to the other commenters. Sounds like Williams in Resurrection — good stuff all!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink
  5. roger flyer wrote:

    The crowd’s declaration was true even though it was not what they meant.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
  6. kim fabricius wrote:

    A quite brilliant hemaneutical move – and now a manna of a text for proponents of children taking Communion!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Permalink
  7. Nathan Smith wrote:

    Like the high priest.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Permalink
  8. Bruce Hamill wrote:

    Great insight Halden! Blessed ironies of grace!

    Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 1:07 am | Permalink
  9. Mike Bull wrote:

    Halden, this is only half the picture. Right through the Bible there are always two goats at Atonement. The history of the first century church follows the Feasts, and we must not leave it after Passover and Pentecost. The apostles summoned a new Jew/Gentile “body” as Trumpets, and pronounced plagues against all those who would not obey the gospel. Atonement came with the slaughter of saints as the first goat and the destruction of Jerusalem as the second. Herod’s city was the early church’s Jericho. Josephus records that a cloisters collapsed during the war, killing six thousand women and children in one fell swoop. And Revelation shows those saints rejoicing over this event. Jesus’ blood covered the believers, but we must never forget that His blood was also avenged upon those who refused to believe. Is it any wonder Jesus told the weeping women to weep instead for their children.

    There was a reckoning then, and there is a greater reckoning to come.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 5:51 am | Permalink

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