As far as most professing Christians discuss, the Jews only read the Old Testament and not the New Testament because Jews living over 2000 years ago rejected Jesus Christ. Jesus was railroaded by the Jews who wanted him to be killed by the Romans because they knew the Romans were experts at torture and prolonged executions. In my last post, I explained why the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas was the proximate cause of Jewish rejection. This, however, does not explain 2000 years of sustained rejection. In 2013, most Jews have probably never heard of Joseph Caiaphas. What they do hear from the rabbis is that Yeshu (Yeshua/Jesus) was a false messiah, rejected by the Jewish sages of the day, and was hung on a tree. Because of this, the Jews throughout history have been abused by these ‘goyim’ for killing the god of the Christians. Yeshu is not for the Jews. I would like to briefly explore the history of abuse that the Jews suffered at the hands of Europe’s Christians. To understand the issue, it is most important to understand Jewish suffering. When one understands Jewish suffering and can speak to what they know is true, then dialogue can ensue for a meaningful conversation.
The first Christians were Jews. These Jews, especially the Apostle Paul , loved and reasoned Gentiles into the faith. These Messianic Jews refused to participate in the Jewish revolts against the Roman occupation from 66-73 AD and again in 132-135 AD. These Jewish believers in Yeshua were considered a Jewish sect until they did not participate in these events. The synagogue was then closed to them. The Gentile Church continued to grow and eventually the Gentiles dominated. By the 4th century, official church policy turned negative against the Jews. This occurred through the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, the decree of Emperor Constantine to change the day of Christian worship from the Sabbath to the “Day of the Sun”. This occurred in 321 AD. In 325, the counsel of Nicaea was called by Constantine which firmly established Roman Catholicism and marginalized the Jews living in the empire. In the same century, Patriarch John Chrysostom encouraged the banishment of Jewish customs among Christians. These attitudes that became “official” in the established church gave Christians negative opinions of Jews for generations to come.
In 1096, thousands of Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land murdered thousands of Jews along the Rhine. In 1099, after the conquest of Jerusalem, the Jews were herded into the Jerusalem Synagogue which was burnt to the ground as the Crusaders sang hymns. In 1290, King Edward of England had the Jews expelled. In 1492, Spain did the same followed by the Portuguese expulsion in 1497. In 1543, the reformer Martin Luther cursed them in the strongest terms. Beginning in 1555 AD, Pope Paul IV, then Pius IV and Pius V, established church policy that further estranged the Jews. During the inquisition, Jews were burned and up to 350,000 were killed or tortured. The Jews were also blamed for the plague. The Archbishop of Mayence allowed a mob to slaughter 1300 Jews. In 1772, Catherine II of Russia restricted Jewish rights. From 1800-1822, Pope Pius VII had the Jews walled into their separate communities. From 1881-1921, Russia unleashed the pogroms against the Jews. During this period there were 887 pogroms against 530 Jewish communities in Russia. The Russians killed 60,000 Jews. Then Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933. By April 1945, the Nazi’s, who came from Catholic or Lutheran families, managed to kill 6 million Jews.
Christians living in 2013 need to understand that Catholics, Orthodox, and Reformers all contributed to Jewish misery in Europe. Given this history, how can we expect the Jewish people to embrace Jesus? They cannot distinguish Jesus from what his supposed followers did to them. What can we do with so much water under this bridge? We can love them. We can begin to build trust. Be aware of their history and lovingly share the Messianic scriptures from a Jewish Bible with them, should God provide an opportunity. Never be disagreeable, but ask a Jewish person what happens after one dies? Ask them what the Jewish Bible says and ask them to show you. Pray that in the spirit of love you‘ll be able to share the Messiah with them. They can only come to Messiah if their heart is ready. Don’t be judgmental. Just be a friend to them. Become familiar with Romans 9-11. God, our loving Father, who established his covenant with them, expects us to show them mercy so that His grace may be made manifest. Shalom, Joe.