Last week, I mentioned some of the Christian anti-Semitism that I encountered growing up, most, if not all, based on ignorance of what the Bible says about the Jewish people. It is also important to understand how I understood other Christians. Eastern Orthodox and Protestants were understood as being different religions, not different expressions, of the same faith. There was very little sense of other Christians who chose to worship differently. As for the Jewish people, they rejected Gesu plus they didn’t eat what we ate; a porchetta sandwich; prosciutto and provolone on Italian bread; sopressata; capicola; mortadella; Genoa salami; sausage and pepper sandwich, and pasta with crab sauce. Admittedly I was a bit confused that pastrami was theirs. It sounded like it should have been ours.
While browsing in 2005, I found myself attracted to the book “Why the Jews rejected Jesus.” I saw that it was written from a traditional Jewish point of view for a Jewish audience. After reading the book it became apparent to me that Jewish people were not encouraged to look at both sides of this issue. I then started to read the Talmud and other Jewish books to try to understand the Talmudic influence on the Jewish point of view. They were being told what to think by post-Temple rabbis, sages who lived during the Middle Ages and modern rabbinical scholars. Yeshua and the New Covenant scriptures were not to be considered or explored; They were to be outwardly rejected.
A traditional Jew who wanted to personally explore this issue could be guilty of idolatry and accepting Yeshua meant forfeiting one’s Jewishness. With this in mind I started to observe Jewish people in airports and on flights. I thought it quite interesting that they were never reading from the Tenakh (Old Testament). They carried and read from the Talmud or other Jewish prayer books. With all of this information in mind, I was fortunate enough to meet reform Jews who had their own misgivings concerning the ultra-conservative Jews and Messianic Jews who stood firm to their Jewishness while simultaneously accepting Yeshua as the Messiah. It was at this point that I decided to write this book.
A central motivation for me in writing The Jewish People and Jesus: Is It Time for Reconciliation? You Decide. was to portray traditional Jewish objections to reconciliation with Yeshua with Biblical responses to these objections. Most Jewish people were brought up to reject the messianic claims of Yeshua without hearing or reading respectful responses to the rabbinical point of view. However, it is equally true that most professing Christians have never been introduced to the rabbinical point of view or have tried to understand why resistance to Yeshua continues.
One piece of continued Jewish resistance to reconciliation is the history of “Christian” anti-Semitism, especially in Europe. The Jewish people lost their land to the Romans, and then were eventually absorbed into a Christianized Rome circa the fourth century where they resisted conformity to this new “Gentile” religion. The result was overt or covert persecution, expulsion, massacre, dehumanization, pogroms and eventually the Holocaust. Most learned people understand that Nazi paganism sentenced Jews in the millions, but what could not be denied is that a perceived “Christian” civilization allowed these attitudes to fester.
I was raised in an Italian Catholic family in the 1950s and 1960s where I understood the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) to be Catholics. Mary, of course, was Italian. Why else would we call her the Madonna? As for the Jews, they rejected Jesus for no good reason and handed him over the Pagan Romans to seal his fate. I did not understand this as God’s plan, so the Jews were referred to as “Massa’Cristo” – Christ-killer.
At the time I was also biblically ignorant. When I was in college these beliefs were challenged by Biblical responses from a man named Dave. At the conviction of his words, I started to read the Bible. As a result, I discovered that the “Holy Family” practiced the Jewish faith, including Jesus. One of the most wonderful parts of the Bible I read were Rabbi Saul’s (The Apostle Paul) letters to the Romans, especially Chapters 9-11. Here it clearly states that Gentile believers in the Jewish Messiah are to show the Jewish people mercy because God had mercy on the Gentiles when the Gentiles were pagans. If the New Covenant stated this, why weren’t these words conveyed to the masses?
The message for non-Jews is that those who came to the Messiah before Emperor Constantine “Christianized” the empire converted; i.e. they had a change of heart for the Messiah. After this period, a change of heart was exchanged for an official decree. Therefore many in Europe who considered themselves as Christians were never converted to faith in the Messiah.
The message for non-Jews who believe in the Jewish Messiah is that anti-Semitism is sinful and contrary to the New Covenant.
The Jewish People and Jesus
If you like books that intellectually place a challenge before you, this is the book for you. It is written to challenge Christian assumptions and traditional Jewish beliefs. A bit of background:
Many assume if you were born into a Christian family, then you can call yourself a Christian, but is this belief supported by scripture? One who is truly Christian has made a commitment to the service of the Messiah. That person must come to realize that only by God’s grace has this opportunity been afforded to the “adopted” sons and daughters of Abraham.
This faith has NOT replaced the Jewish people who are God’s chosen. According to Gen. 12:3, those who bless the Jewish people will be blessed and those who curse them will be cursed. Never forget that the Jewish people gave us the Bible and the Messiah. The non-Jewish followers of the Jewish Messiah must realize that those who experience a change of heart and live for the Messiah have life in his name, not because of what we have done, but because of what he did for us through his sacrifice.
The Jewish People
The traditionally held belief is that the Jewish Bible (Tenakh) places its emphasis on Torah observance. According to the rabbis, this occurs through adherence to the Talmud which explains how the Torah is to be observed and obeyed.
In fact, in the books of Moses, it explains the blessings and curses the Jewish people will experience according to their adherence to or disobedience in obeying what Yahveh commands in the Torah. What is missing from the promises that Yahveh makes to the Jewish people? The promise of eternal life.
Since that promise was not made in the Torah, are we to assume that eternal life can be earned through Torah observance? The Jewish People and Jesus poses the following question. Does Torah observance through the Talmud lead to eternal life or could it be that the Tenakh (Torah, writings, and prophets) all point toward the Jewish Messiah and that the key to life eternal can only be found in and through Him?