We must ask: who exactly were Jesus' accusers? Who insisted that he be condemned to death? We must take note of the different answers that the Gospels give to this question. According to John it was simply "the Jews”. But John's use of this expression does not in any way indicate—as the modern reader might suppose—the people of Israel in general, even less is it "racist" in character. After all, John himself was ethnically a Jew, as were Jesus and all his followers. The entire early Christian community was made up of Jews. In John's Gospel this word has a precise and clearly defined meaning: he is referring to the Temple aristocracy. So the circle of accusers who instigate Jesus' death is precisely indicated in the Fourth Gospel and clearly limited: it is the Temple aristocracy.
De Paus wijst ook op de supporters van Barnabas die een rol speelden bij de kruisiging van Jezus:
In Mark's Gospel, the circle of accusers is broadened in the context of the Passover amnesty (Barabbas or Jesus): the "ochlos" enters the scene and opts for the release of Barabbas. "Ochlos" in the first instance simply means a crowd of people, the "masses”. The word frequently has a pejorative connotation, meaning "mob." In any event, it does not refer to the Jewish people as such. […] Effectively this 'crowd' is made up of the followers of Barabbas who have been mobilized to secure the amnesty for him: as a rebel against Roman power he could naturally count on a good number of supporters. So the Barabbas party, the "crowd”, was conspicuous while the followers of Jesus remained hidden out of fear; this meant that the vox populi, on which Roman law was built, was represented one-sidedly. In Mark's account, then, as well as 'the Jews,' that is to say the dominant priestly circle, the ochlos comes into play, the circle of Barabbas' supporters, but not the Jewish people as such.
In het evangelie van Mattheus lezen we dat Joden zeggen: ‘Zijn bloed kome over ons en onze kinderen.’ Maakt dit alle Joden collectief schuldig? Nee, zegt de Paus.
An extension of Mark's ochlos, with fateful consequences, is found in Matthew's account (27:25) which speaks of the "whole people" and attributes to them the demand for Jesus' crucifixion. Matthew is certainly not recounting historical fact here: How could the whole people have been present at this moment to clamour for Jesus' death? It seems obvious that the historical reality is correctly described in John's account and in Mark's. The real group of accusers are the current Temple authorities, joined in the context of the Passover amnesty by the "crowd" of Barabbas' supporters.
De Paus onderstreept bovendien dat het vergieten van het bloed van Christus in de eerste plaats samenhangt met vergeving, niet met oordeel.
When in Matthew's account the "whole people" say: "his blood be on us and on our children" (27:25), the Christian will remember that Jesus' blood speaks a different language form the blood of Abel (Heb. 12:24): it does not cry out for vengeance and punishment, it brings reconciliation. It is not poured out against anyone, it is poured out for many, for all. […] Read in the light of faith, [Matthew's reference to Jesus' blood] means that we all stand in the need of the purifying power of love which is his blood. These words are not a curse, but rather redemption, salvation. Only when understood in terms of the theology of the Last Supper and the Cross, drawn from the whole of the New Testament, does this verse from Matthew's Gospel take on its correct meaning.
Deze gedachten van Benedictus XVI staan in de traditie van Nostra Aetate ("Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions"). In dit document van Vaticanum II zegt Paus Paulus VI:
While the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ, [the crucifixion] "cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today”.
Joden, volgens Paulus VI, "should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures." Nostra Aetate "decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone."
Met dank aan Christianity Today voor de quotes van de Paus.