Growing up in the Christian church, it was hard for me to understand why a Jew was utterly rejected by his family, friends and culture if he professed Jesus as his Messiah. Essentially, the Jew who dared to breath the name of Jesus in anything other than an epithet or curse was cast out of the family and community as a pariah and treated as dead. Understanding the complicated and multifaceted issues, not the least of which is a Torah-less Egyptian/Gentile looking Jesus who bears no real resemblance or connection to Yeshua, the Jewish Rabbi of Scripture, began to help me understand why Jews so violently and radically reject Jesus, a false Messiah.
Christendom generally expects and historically has required any Jew who believes Jesus/Yeshua is the Messiah to reject the Torah, a radical ‘no-no’ according to much Scripture. I could not relate to how ‘out of place’ this forced the Jew to be until the Holy Spirit began to awaken me to the everlasting unchanging Torah that is the Way of Righteousness, even today! It was at this point that I could not only understand the plight of the Jew cast out of his community, but could empathize. I had committed the ‘unpardonable sin’ Continue reading “Living in ‘no man’s land’ … but, there is hope!!”
Following begins a good article by friend and brother, Al McCarn. He and I have been having a very special bridge building experience as we have gotten to know and build friendship with a Jewish brother. I count it a rare privilege to be involved in a friendship strong enough to begin exploring and discussing differences rather than simply sticking with points of commonality. As we have discussed, mutual respect and genuine desire to understand the other without expecting them to change to our way of thinking has led to real openness and trust where in we don’t do much tap dancing or hiding in the shadows. Very refreshing.
I can’t wait to sit down face to face with this Jewish brother and get to know him and his family better. Baruch Hashem!!
An Explanation to a Jewish Brother
In Interview between Jesus and Nicodemus, James Tissot depicts one Jew’s honest attempt to understand Yeshua of Nazareth and his followers. Although Nicodemus eventually became one of those followers, the world has overlooked one very important point: neither he nor Yeshua ever ceased being Jewish.
In recent days my friend Pete Rambo and I have enjoyed a lively email exchange with a Jewish brother. By this time we have identified many of the key differences in our beliefs and the ways we perceive the world. I think it is safe to say we are confident enough in our relationship that we can ask some pointed questions without fear of alienating one another. The good thing is that we are all curious about what we believe, and we genuinely want to know how we each perceive the world. This has been eye-opening on all sides. I have learned that some of the things I thought I knew about Jews and Judaism were not quite right, just as our friend has learned that some of the things he thought he knew about Christians and Messianic believers were not quite right. This is the kind of dialogue that is essential if we are to come to an understanding of one another and begin to cooperate in bringing Messiah and building his kingdom.
What I share here is a response provided to our friend in answer to two questions. The first concerned our celebration of Passover (Pesach) – as in, why do non-Jews celebrate the Feast, and how do we do it? The second question involved our description of ourselves as something other than Christian. In other words, how is it that we believe in Yeshua, or Jesus, as Messiah, but do not consider ourselves Christians (or at least traditional Christians). In the interest of building mutual understanding, here are my answers to those questions. Continue reading….