Basic Definitions and Premises
Music: Closer Walk with Me
How did the Gentiles Hijack Jesus?
No room for Messianic Judaism to fit between a Rock and a Hard Place
... and the sinning goes on ...
Introduction: The title is very provocative to say the least. If one asks categorically, do Jews believe Jesus was the Messiah – the answer would be NO. Jews and Christians accept this without question. But … how did this all come about in such a short time, dating back almost two-thousand years and is it true in the first place? Before delving into the history more … a few childhood thoughts of mine I think are appropriate.
I categorize myself as a Judeo-Christian (or is it Messianic Jew). I was born into a mixed-marriage, my father was Catholic and my mother Jewish. My mother had to sign a paper to raise her children Catholic before being married in the Catholic Church – which she did! This guaranteed that I would give up my Jewish heritage (starting to sound a lot like anti-Semitism). I didn’t give it much thought during my teen years, other than growing-up being a Catholic was much better than being called a Jew. Looking back – a red flag should have been raised at this time – a Jew (based on my mother being Jewish), indoctrinated into a Christian church, baptized and confirmed into the Catholic faith made me a Christian (believer in Jesus being the Messiah) and not a Jew (non-believer that Jesus was not the Messiah).
Along the way in my early twenties, I met and communicated with a priest about a concern I had about my Christian faith – in that – why did the Catholic Church preach that the Jews killed Jesus when I thought that Jesus was put on this Earth to die for our sins? Someone had to kill him. This was the first priest who actually communicated my concern and said: the church was in error on their position and he believed that the church was in sin with taking such a stance. Wow! Here was someone of authority validating my concern and in a strong manner. This left an impression on me for the rest of my life.
Reading a book my Michael Brown: Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus (Vol. 1) got me to re-think my involvement into Christianity and re-kindled some of my early-year thoughts and concerns:
What is a true Messianic Jew?
Summary: First, a historical look is needed. A lot of this history I give is taken from Michael Browns book and is a recommended reading for anyone concerned with Christian/Jewish religions. Items taken from his books are given in quotes.
Jesus was a Jew!
Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) was not born into a good Catholic family with the last name of Christ; his mother’s name would not have been Mary (it would have been Miriam) and he did not attend Catholic (or Christian) schools, just to name a few.
“Jesus was born a Jew, raised in a Jewish community, lived and worked as a Jew among Jews, worshiped at the temple as a faithful Jew, attended synagogue regularly, taught as a Jew, and ultimately died as a Jew with the Hebrew Scriptures on his lips.
“Jesus spent most of his entire life in constant interaction with fellow Jews, and all his immediate followers were Jewish. He was welcomed by many of his Jewish contemporaries as a promised Messiah, he pointed to the words of the Israelite prophets to explain his mission, and he spent virtually all his time preaching to Jews, healing their sicknesses, and meeting their spiritual and emotional needs. Out of the countless thousands of people whose lives he directly touched, few of them were non-Jews.
“When reports circulated that he had risen from the dead, Jewish women were the first eyewitnesses and Jewish men announced this good news to crowds of interested, religious Jews. It was Jews who told other Jews about his resurrection and Jews who healed other Jews in his name. Of the large numbers of those who first put their faith in him, all of them were Jews. In fact, it was several years before any Gentiles became part of this community of believers.
Jews don’t believe in Jesus!
How can this be?
So … how can it be, that of all the people on Earth, the Jewish people are known as the ones who do not believe in Jesus? It’s starting to sound more like a J.R. soap-opera all the time – BUT IT’S TRUE!
Jesus, the Christ ... is ... Yeshua, the Messiah
Christ was not Jesus’ last name
Christ in Greek means Messiah!
The Rest of the Story … As the Messianic Jewish faith spread, it began to fulfill a key biblical function –
Making the God of Israel known to all Nations
However, because the Messiah had given his life for the Jew as well as the Gentile, there was a great influx of Gentiles into the Messiah’s community of believers; and it didn’t take long before the Gentiles made up the vast majority of Messianic believers.
At this time there now exists a split in Judaism: Rabbinic and Messianic
Rabbinic Jew: Traditional Jew who has yet to accept Jesus (Yeshua) as the Jewish Messiah and
Messianic Jew: Traditional Jew who has accepted Jesus (Yeshua) as the Jewish Messiah, along with
Baptism, Communion and the New Testament teachings
But how did Rabbinic Judaism become the accepted belief of Jews?
The Gentiles were not required to become Jews (circumcision, no pork eating, temple, synagogue, etc) in order to join the Messianic community of faith – just believe in Jesus as the Messiah. In a short amount of time, there was a great influx of Gentile believers in the Messiah. However, with religious freedom came problems… to all outward appearances, the Messianic Jewish faith began to look like a new, Gentile religion (Christianity) to the Orthodox Jew.
Thus the emerging Rabbinic Jewish community began to disassociate itself from the many thousands of Jews who were followers of Jesus, the Messiah and would welcome Jews only if they renounced all ties to Jesus. On the other hand, Gentile Christians began to welcome Jews into their midst only if they renounced all ties to their Jewish-ness.
Oh Jesus, keep me close to the Cross
The Messianic Jews now found themselves between a rock (increasing Gentile church appearance) and a hard place (increasingly unfriendly Rabbinic Jewish community).
Jews helped build the Messianic house from the foundation up, and then
they were told that as Jews they were not welcome.
And you guessed it … in a short time, Messianic Judaism was
certainly not a faith for Jews.
“As the church became powerful in society, it began to persecute those who refused to believe in its version of Jesus – by this time a distorted, hardly Jewish Jesus – leading to centuries of bloodshed and atrocities committed against the Jewish people by those who claimed to be Christians. The horrible story of “Christian” anti-Semitism, one of the great tragedies in human history, settled things completely for many Jews.
‘This Jesus is the cause of most of our troubles in the world today, and
Christianity is a religion of hate and not love.
It is anything but a true Messianic faith.