Here are two very brief stories of a hanging of two Jews. There is a poignant connection between the two. We are familiar with the one; the other, not.
The first story is from Mathew 27.
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Yes, it is as you say.”
“Don’t you know that your fellow Jews want to kill you for saying this?”
Silence. Pilate is amazed. He asks the crowd
“Who should I release to you, Barabbas, a murderer, or this innocent man?
“And what shall I do with Jesus?”
Pilate dips hands into a basin, washes his hands and says
“I am innocent of this man’s blood.”
“Let his blood be upon us and our children.”
Pilate releases Barabbas and hands Jesus over to be flogged and crucified. Those who pass by mock him and shout:
“He saved others but cannot save himself……Let God rescue him now because he said that he is the Son of God.”
For three hours Jesus hangs on the cross. He then cries out:
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
And a little while later
It has been accomplished.
The second story is from Elie (Eliezer; Hebrew for “God has helped”) Wiesel the Nazi hunter as told to Karen Armstrong (“The history of God.” Vintage Books, paperback, p. 430).
For Wiesel, the holocaust was the last nail in the coffin of the death of God. (He seems o have changed his opinion in later years).
One day the Gestapo hanged a child. Even the SS were disturbed by the prospect of hanging a young boy in front of thousands of spectators. The child who, Wiesel recalled, had the face of a ‘sad-eyed angel’, was silent, lividly pale and almost calm as he ascended the gallows. Behind Wiesel, one of the other prisoners asked: “Where is God, where is He?”
It took the child half an hour to die, while the prisoners were forced to look him in the face. The same man asked again: “Where is God now?”
And Wiesel heard a voice within him make this answer:
“Where is He? Here He is – He is hanging here on this gallows.”
(See follow-on Friedrich Nietzsche’s Madman, the death of God and the Jew).