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Controversy has again engulfed the Trump administration this week, following a huge mis-statement by Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Syrian president Bashar Al Assad was equal in evil to Hitler, he asserted. Maybe even worse. Because even Hitler didn’t gas his own people.

You can’t really condemn Spicer’s intent. Assad’s use of sarin gas against his own people, women and children included, is an unimaginable act of evil which should never be tolerated.

It’s horrific. And it must be stopped.

Media Uproar over Spicer’s Comments
What Spicer seemed to miss, though, was staggering. Because the efficient mechanics of the Nazi death machine included gassing most of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. The legendary ovens were used to incinerate their bodies after death. Leaving no trace of their existence on the earth.

Spicer’s comments rightly created an uproar in the media, nationally and internationally. Nancy Pelosi and others even declared he must resign. 

Seeking Forgiveness
How Sean Spicer handled his mistake is actually a lesson for us all. He of course admitted his mistake and recanted. But as you will see, he actually went far beyond. 

Because in seeking to make his apology, Spicer didn’t turn to conservative media—to Sean Hannity or even Brett Baier. Instead he chose CNN as the platform. More specifically, Wolf Blitzer. 

Most of you probably don’t know Wolf Blitzer’s personal history, so I want you to note the intentionality behind his actions. The legendary CNN anchor’s parents both survived Auschwitz. 

“I hope that people who understand know that when I make a mistake I try and own it,” he said. “And I would ask people for their forgiveness.”

Spicer continued. “I was obviously trying to make a point about the heinous acts that Assad had made against his own people last week using chemical weapons and gas,” Spicer told Blitzer. “Frankly, I mistakenly used an inappropriate, insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison. For that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”

Blitzer asked if his remarks were directed at Holocaust survivors as well as the broader population. “Clearly anybody who, not just suffered in the Holocaust, or is a descendant, but, frankly, anyone who was offended by those comments.”

Seeking Nothing in Return
I appreciate Spicer’s humility— rare in Washington DC. Further, I appreciate his clear intentionality in addressing not just the nation and world, but an individual whose own life and family still bore the scars of Hitler’s atrocities. Even if politically, Wolf Blitzer is on the opposite end of the spectrum. 

It’s important to note that neither Spicer nor Blitzer mentioned on camera that the CNN correspondent’s mom and dad were actually Holocaust survivors. That in itself could have been a big story in a very self-serving, Washingtonian kind of way—if only Spicer had capitalized on it. But poignantly, neither brought this out. Spicer’s apology first human being to human being. Seeking nothing in return.  

The gift of forgiveness is really why we celebrate Good Friday and Resurrection Day. I would suggest that you consider Spicer’s example. Do you want your voice to be heard on high? Be sincere. Don’t justify yourself. Seek nothing in return. Bow low and you take the higher ground.

Spicer Showed Ignorance—What About You?
Spicer showed his lack of understanding regarding the Holocaust, or Shoah, and caught fire for it. But what about you? I fear too many of us are in a similar state of ignorance regarding the magnitude of what actually occurred. Christians especially. 

We fail to understand how how our world has been impacted by the Shoah, and how it must actually continue to be impacted. Because if we do not remember, if we do not learn the lessons crying out to us from our forefathers, humanity is vulnerable to repeat these very atrocities. 

Look at the Suffering
So let me share another comparison which many will find controversial. Many theologians believe God indirectly compared the suffering of His covenant people in the Holocaust to the suffering of His own Messiah, whose death and resurrection we honor this weekend. Read the passage below:

So HIS APPEARANCE was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men (Isaiah 52:14). 

The suffering of the Jewish people through centuries, most horrifically through the Holocaust or Shoah, can only be attributed to the worst intentions and actions of mankind. Isaiah accurately prophesied that people would be astonished. Horrified.

And we are. 

The prophet then goes on to announce that God’s own Son, this long-awaited Jewish Messiah, would experience an agony poignantly similar at the hands of vicious men. 

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed (Isaiah 53:4-5). 

We as Christians often seek to guide our Jewish friends toward Jesus’ suffering, the very suffering prophesied by Isaiah. How could it be any clearer that He is our Passover Lamb? 

But here’s a thought. As we seek to know Jesus more, maybe it’s actually time that we as Christians take Isaiah’s guidance and consider the suffering of the Jewish people. Within the sparks of the Shoah, perhaps God hints that we will understand Messiah’s own suffering on our behalf in a more profound way. 

An Unimaginable Betrayal
Take betrayal, for instance. The Jews were betrayed by their government, by neighbors, by friends. And largely by a western world bent on appeasement, which looked the other way and refused to believe what was transpiring before their very eyes. Meanwhile the people of the Covenant were being cruelly and methodically exterminated. 

Note that the western world was largely Christian. A world which taught society to revere Jesus as the Messiah who died for our sins, yet at the same time actually blamed Jesus’ death on the Jews. 

Did the Jews kill Him, or did we? Was it or was it not our own sins which brought Jesus to the cross? Can’t have it both ways. At least if His redemption is real. 

And tragically, the accusation borne over generations that the Jews killed Jesus became the seedbed for forced conversions, pogroms, and eventually even the Holocaust.

The Jews killed Jesus. The Christians killed the Jews. 

The Gift of Forgiveness
Now consider Jesus, whose betrayal by even His closest friends brought Him to suffer His unimaginable agony through scourging and death. The Creator was crucified by His creation. Love actually died.  

But Love was also resurrected. And because of this, the forgiveness we all need is made perfect and complete. This Passover I am celebrating a God who bridges the deepest of divides—between Himself and His people, and between human hearts. You are cherished. You are forgiven. 

Nations have perceived, and humbled themselves by His conviction. A question remains. How will you respond?

So HIS APPEARANCE was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.