Questions From Readers
Jesus had gone throughout the land in his preaching work. So how could the apostle Peter say that the Jewish people and their rulers “acted in ignorance” in having him executed?—Acts 3:17.
In addressing a group of Jews about their role in the death of the Messiah, the apostle Peter said: “I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers also did.” (Acts 3:14-17) Some Jews simply may not have understood Jesus and his teaching. As for others, the motives behind their spiritual ignorance included lack of desire to please God, prejudice, envy, and outright hatred.
Consider how the lack of desire to please Jehovah affected the view that many had of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus often taught with illustrations, which he explained to all who were desirous of learning more. Some of them, though, simply walked away, making little effort to understand. On one occasion, even some disciples took offense at a figure of speech that Jesus used. (John 6:52-66) Such ones failed to realize that Jesus’ illustrations tested their readiness to change their thinking and actions. (Isa. 6:9, 10; 44:18; Matt. 13:10-15) They also ignored a prophecy about the Messiah’s use of illustrations in his teaching.—Ps. 78:2.
Because of prejudice, others rejected Jesus’ teachings. When he taught in the synagogue of his hometown, Nazareth, the people were “astounded.” But far from accepting Jesus as the Messiah, they raised questions about his background: “Where did this man get these things? . . . This is the carpenter the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon, is it not? And his sisters are here with us, are they not?” (Mark 6:1-3) To the people of Nazareth, Jesus’ humble upbringing rendered his teaching worthless.
What about the religious leaders? Most of them paid scant heed to Jesus for similar reasons. (John 7:47-52) They also rejected his teaching because they envied Jesus, who was receiving attention from the people. (Mark 15:10) And many prominent ones certainly reacted badly when he denounced them for their hypocrisy and deceit. (Matt. 23:13-36) Jesus rightly condemned their willful ignorance, saying: “Woe to you who are versed in the Law, because you took away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not go in [to the Kingdom], and those going in you hindered!”—Luke 11:37-52.
For three and a half years, Jesus preached the good news in the land. He also trained dozens of others to share in that work. (Luke 9:1, 2; 10:1, 16, 17) Jesus and his disciples were so effective that the Pharisees complained: “See! The world has gone after him.” (John 12:19) So it is not that most Jews knew absolutely nothing. Yet, they remained fundamentally “in ignorance” about Jesus as the Messiah. They could have deepened their knowledge and love of the Messiah, but they did not. Some became accomplices in Jesus’ death. Hence, the apostle Peter exhorted many of them: “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the person of Jehovah and that he may send forth the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.” (Acts 3:19, 20) It is noteworthy that thousands of Jews began paying attention, including “a great crowd of priests.” They no longer acted in ignorance. Rather, they repented and gained Jehovah’s favor.—Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7.