We began this series, some months back, following Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus. You might remember the first installment Restoring Our Judeo-Christian Culture where, in earnest, I was inspired by the author’s introduction to his work with these words:
“Christianity, too has much to gain from a rediscovery of the authentic Jewishness of Jesus. American culture is less in accordance with Christian theology than many would think. Bringing a bit more Jewish influence to bear would make a great deal of sense for American Christians.
By discovering the Jewish Jesus and the Jewish understanding behind the bedrock premises of Christianity, Christians’ understanding of their own faith will be enriched and riddles will be resolved. Modern American and Judeo-Christian values will be strengthened to the benefit of both Jewish and Christian communities and our society as a whole.”
It’s hard not read the headlines and not shake my head in disbelief, if not disgust, at how far we have fallen as a society. Who doesn’t want both communities strengthened along with society as a whole? However, Boteach misses the mark–at least within the Christian community. His attempt at unity between the faiths rested in presenting Jesus as a fully Jewish man–fully Jewish but fully man.
However, there is a common thread running throughout both Kosher Jesus and Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel. That is the misinterpretations of Jewish culture that has led to much of the antisemitism and Jewish suffering throughout history done in the name of Christianity.
Although Boteach’s intention is to bring the two faiths to a better understanding, one thing I learned from him was that there is a deep, deep wound inflicted on the Jewish people over centuries of Christianity that for many, has yet to heal.
As we finish the last of this series with David H. Stern, Ph.D’s book, Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel: A Message For Christians, I noticed that Stern uses many of the same scripture passages that Boteach does. Although he takes it one step further. Rather than blaming unnamed antisemitic editors that have purposely (for political reasons) turned Christ and the New Testament against the Jewish people, he explains the subtle yet profound misinterpretations.
One other noticeable point, while Boteach (and myself) were focused on restoring values to the culture, Stern is focused on returning the Christian to answering the call of the Great Commission.
As we pray for our nation we often quote, 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” New International Version.
“My people” that are called “by my name” is that Jewish, Christian or both? Whose land?
The answers shouldn’t surprise you.
We often speak of restoring the zealous love of the early church. It was the early church, which was comprised of Jews that believed Yeshua (Jesus) was indeed the promised messiah. They were fully Jewish, they did not turn from their faith–rather they believed that Adonai fulfilled His promise. They allowed the rest of us, through Christ to join the family–without becoming Jewish.
Why is that so hard for us to grasp? We understand that God created both male and female, set them as one within a family. Each distinctly different, and yet, one people so-to-speak.
Jesus said in Matt. 5:13-18 (CJB):
“You are salt for the Land. But if salt becomes tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except being thrown out for people to trample on.”
“You are light for the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Likewise, when people light a lamp, they don’t cover it with a bowl but put it on a lamp stand, so that it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.”
Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah–not until everything that must happen has happened.”
What is that light, but the unconditional love of Christ and forgiveness. Stern makes the case that the return of Christ is hindered because we, as Christians, have not fulfilled our part in the Great Commission. Christians, Sterns asserts, must acknowledge and seek forgiveness for the historical wrongs that have been committed against our Jewish brethren in our name–without expecting to receive it:
“Only God, in his miraculous way, through the healing that only Yeshua the Messiah brings, can restore the hearts of the living to the point where they can forgive. No Christian has a right to expect Jewish forgiveness for the Holocaust, and in fact he will probably not get such forgiveness from Jews whose hearts have not been healed by Yeshua the Messiah.”
Stern goes on to say,
” …not to preach the Gospel to the Jews is the worst antisemitic act of all. Therefore, in spite of the Holocaust– and the Inquisition, and the Pogroms, and all the other horrors–Christians must take up the Gospel and bring it to Jews.
Or are we “ashamed” of the Gospel?
“For I am not ashamed of the Good News, since it is God’s powerful means of bringing salvation to everyone who keeps on trusting, to the Jew especially, but equally to the Gentile.”
How can we bring the Gospel to Israel, God’s chosen people? Very humbly, with only Christ’s love and our sincere respect.
I’ll close this series with this one thought,
“If Yeshua is not the Messiah of the Jews, then he is nobody’s Messiah, and Gentiles don’t need him either.”
But if he is the Messiah, can you imagine what would happen to the hearts and minds of both Arabs and Jews throughout the Middle East if the fire of the Holy Spirit once again rained down?
Photo Credits Shutterstock, ChameleonsEye, Kajano