Monday, December 29, 2008

Failing to Recognize Bahá'u'lláh by Jews is their “spiritual blindness”

When Christ appeared, twenty centuries ago, although the Jews were eagerly awaiting His Coming, and prayed every day, with tears, saying: "O God, hasten the Revelation of the Messiah," yet when the Sun of Truth dawned, they denied Him and rose against Him with the greatest enmity, and eventually crucified that divine Spirit, the Word of God, and named Him Beelzebub, the evil one, as is recorded in the Gospel....

(J. E. Esslemont, "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era", 5th rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 6)

A Bahá'í asked : "How do I respond when a Jew says we are anti-Semitic because we believe the Jews crucified Christ?" He notes that Jews defend Judaism by saying that the Romans, not the Jews, crucified Christ.

In responding to such a criticism it would be helpful to point out that followers -- and the clergy in particular -- of all the religions have opposed the coming of the succeeding Manifestation. The Bahá'í writings point out the crucifixion of Jesus to emphasize not the criminal act itself but the spiritual blindness of a people who rejected the very Messiah they sought, for although the Romans committed the actual act of crucifying Christ, the crucifixion was caused by the rejection of Jesus by the Jews and their accusation of Him before Pontius Pilate.

Such spiritual blindness has not been limited to the Jews, but has been witnessed in every Dispensation. Thus, in the following extract Bahá'u'llah addresses the Jews as the crucifiers of Jesus, and similarly addresses the followers of the Christian, Islamic and Bábí Faiths. It is not the Jews in particular who have failed to recognize the Manifestations of God, but all of humanity throughout the Dispensations of the Prophetic Cycle. It is not the actual crime that is emphasized, but the relationship between the people and the promised Manifestation of God, and not the material aspect of the rejection but its more fundamental spiritual significance.

O Jews! If ye be intent on crucifying once again Jesus, the Spirit of God, put Me to death, for He hath once more, in My person, been made manifest unto you. Deal with Me as ye wish, for I have vowed to lay down My life in the path of God. I will fear no one, though the powers of earth and heaven be leagued against Me. Followers of the Gospel! If ye cherish the desire to slay Muhammad, the Apostle of God, seize Me and put an end to My life, for I am He, and My Self is His Self.

Do unto Me as ye like, for the deepest longing of Mine heart is to attain the presence of My Best-Beloved in His Kingdom of Glory. Such is the Divine decree, if ye know it. Followers of Muhammad! If it be your wish to riddle with your shafts the breast of Him Who hath caused His Book the Bayán to be sent down unto you, lay hands on Me and persecute Me, for I am His Well-Beloved, the revelation of His own Self, though My name be not His name. I have come in the shadows of the clouds of glory, and am invested by God with invincible sovereignty. He, verily, is the Truth, the Knower of things unseen. I, verily, anticipate from you the treatment ye have accorded unto Him that came before Me. To this all things, verily, witness, if ye be of those who hearken. O people of the Bayán! If ye have resolved to shed the blood of Him Whose coming the Báb hath proclaimed, Whose advent Muhammad hath prophesied, and Whose Revelation Jesus Christ Himself hath announced, behold Me standing, ready and defenseless, before you. Deal with Me after your own desires.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing ,Trust, 1983), sec. 47, pp. 101-2)

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