Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sharing Jesus with Jewish Friends

Today is the third day in our 37th week, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scriptures* today are:  Isaiah 53-55; 1 Corinthians 15; Psalm 128.  

God loves the Jewish people, and longs for them to embrace Y'shua ha Moshiach, Jesus the Messiah.  We Christians would be nowhere if it were not for our Jewish brothers and sisters, who paved the way for our faith.  God calls the Jewish people the "chosen people."  This doesn't mean that they are His favorite people, since God has no favorites.  But they were chosen to be the vehicle through whom the Messiah would come into the world.  

Unfortunately, many Jews have rejected the idea that Jesus is the Messiah--largely because of Christian hypocrisy and antisemitism throughout history.  Christians need to approach our Jewish brothers and sisters with a spirit of genuine love and reconciliation, and with the hope that they will listen to our witness about the Messiah of Israel.

In Isaiah 52-53, we see a startling prediction of the Messiah.  One Messianic Jewish teacher says he showed it to his father in order to prove that Jesus was the Messiah.  Without telling his father what scripture he was reading from, the son began to share this.  The father, unwilling to receive what was so obviously about Jesus, stopped his ears and said, "Stop reading to me from that New Testament of yours!  You know I don't believe the New Testament!" This passage makes it so astonishingly obvious that this passage points to Jesus that it's undeniable.

Isaiah 52

13 See, my servant will act wisely;
    he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him—
    his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
    and his form marred beyond human likeness
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
    and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
    and what they have not heard, they will understand.


Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Along with Psalm 22:1-21, Isaiah 52-53 gives a sometimes more vivid depiction of the crucifixion than even the New Testament gives.  Psalm 22:1-21 says:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”
Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

Sharing Jesus with Jewish friends doesn't mean ramming Him down their throats.  It does mean lovingly introducing them to their own scriptures--their prophets and poets--who point them to a very Jewish Messiah.  It means being patient with them, and demonstrating by your love the opposite of antisemitism.  It means learning about Jewish culture, and how YOU fit in with THEM.  It means learning how to share the good news about Jesus in a way that they can identify with, rather than expecting them to accept your Gentile version of their Messiah.  It means that as you're grafted into the vine of Israel, you begin to see your Jewish brothers and sisters for what they are--family.

*Scriptures taken from the NIV.

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