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How to Share Yeshua

Description

Jonathan Bernis shares how to speak with your Jewish friends and acquaintances about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” —Isaiah 52:7  NIV 

When non-Jews ask me how to speak with a Jewish Person about the Gospel, I respond with another question: How do you talk to anybody about the Gospel? The simple answer is that you begin by caring enough to listen and see what’s going on in his or her life.

You can usually tell when someone doesn’t even believe in God, so it’s probably not a good idea to jump right in about Jesus being the Anointed One. For someone who doesn’t believe in sin, you might want to avoid talking about Jesus bearing the sins of all mankind.

Where do you start witnessing to Jewish People? Pray for them. Show through your actions that you care for them. Let your light shine so they know that you have a special relationship with God that clearly comes through with genuine love for them and concern for where they will spend eternity.

One Way to Salvation for All

The great Messianic Jewish apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, addresses God’s judgment regarding the Jewish People and their unbelief in the book of Romans, while assuring that this judgment is not permanent. Their salvation will come as it does for anyone by turning in faith to the Messiah.

Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. —Romans 11:11

When your unbelieving friends—both Jewish and Gentile—observe your close relationship with God, they will be provoked to envy. You may not see it. You may even feel that they find your faith amusing in a condescending sort of way. But just watch what happens when trouble strikes. You’ll be one of the first ones they call for prayer.

Particularly with your Jewish friends, present your faith in your Messiah as theirs—the Messiah of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Isaiah reminds us,

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”  —Isaiah 52:7 (emphasis mine)

Many Jewish People who come to the Lord do so at a terminus point. They may have rejected the Gospel dozens of times. They may have been very clear that they don’t want to hear another word about your faith. When they face an emergency in their lives, however, they may suddenly ask questions they’ve never asked before.

Never give up. Your Jewish acquaintances may be rude to you. They may even completely reject you. If you’ve always been there for them and shown them your love, they will turn to you when the time is right. Remember that the Word of God never returns to Him empty, but always accomplishes what He sent it to do.

In Romans 11, Paul says that bringing a Jewish Person to faith in Messiah can be simple. If God can graft an unnatural branch onto a tree, He can certainly reach the Jewish People. If you can get enough of the Word into your Jewish friend, he will come around. I have some easy-to-understand-and-follow recommendations for speaking with Jewish People about Yeshua and thus hastening our Messiah’s return. We will begin with what not to do:

1. Don’t discuss being converted or being a convert to Christianity

At the top of the list of negatives is anything to do with the word conversion. To a Jew, it comes across as, “You must stop being a Jew and become a Christian.” We need to let Jewish People know that it is possible to be Jewish and believe in Yeshua. Telling a Jewish Person that he or she must “become a Christian” translates for them to, “Leave the Jewish faith and become something else.” This is not the biblical message. It is not good news—and it is not the Gospel.

In a perfect world, Christians would say to their Jewish friends, “I’m not suggesting that you convert to another religion or change who you are. You were born a Jew, and you will die a Jew. But this is your Messiah, and I want you to know Him.” God is calling us to step beyond lines of background and culture so we can enjoy a personal relationship with Him. At Jewish Voice, we are not trying to convert people from one culture to another. Instead, we’re trying to work within the framework of their culture and lead them to know their Messiah Yeshua, who identified Himself when He said:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” —John 14:6

2.  Church is another word that has a negative connotation for Jews

Church is a word that means “the other religion” to a Jewish Person. The word church comes from the Greek language and has no Hebrew origins. It’s a fine word in and of itself, which is defined as “the called out ones.” But it is so completely identified with Christianity that it tends to raise a red flag for Jews.

3.  Baptize is also a very difficult word

I don’t deal with it until the person is a little more open. Even though immersion by water is an ancient Jewish idea, it has come to be identified so clearly with Christianity that it, too, can be a red flag. Further, forced baptisms under threat of torture or death during the Inquisition have left a particularly negative impression.

4.  Christ

Like church, Christ is a Greek word that means “anointed one.” I prefer to use Messiah, which is closer to the Hebrew and means the same thing. In the context of sharing your faith with a Jewish Person, it is helpful to understand that many Jewish People still long for the coming of a physical Messiah that they articulate in their daily prayers. The word Christ has no meaning in fulfilling this hope and promise. And, of course, I want Jewish People to know that His actual name given from Heaven is Yeshua.

“You are to give him the name Yeshua, [which means ‘ADONAI saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins.”— Matthew 1:21 CJB

When the angel says You shall call His name Jesus, in the NIV you lose the profound richness if you don’t understand that Yeshua, the actual name given, means salvation.

5.  Cross

Don’t over-emphasize the cross when you speak with a Jewish Person about the Gospel. Some may ask, “How is it possible to over-emphasize the cross?”

I don’t mean to imply that we can ever talk too much about what Yeshua did for us on the cross. When Yeshua was on that cross, He took on the sins of the entire world and shed the blood that cleanses us all from unrighteousness.

But we can go overboard if we turn the cross itself into an object of worship. That cross had no magical power. God did not miraculously preserve it so Believers could bring it out on Easter and bow down to it.

The Messianic Jewish version of the Bible replaces cross with execution stake or tree, which is consistent with prophecy and the Greek references in many cases. Messianic Jews will often say “tree.” I’m not afraid to talk about the cross, but I want to clarify what it doesn’t mean.

Of course, I respect Christians who place great value on the symbol of the cross, while remaining sensitive to both sides.

Dealing with Our Heart

This is a love story. If we harbor sentiments of superiority, judgment, or anti-Semitism, in what measure can the love of God flow through us to apprehend others?

Prejudice? Me? No way! You may be surprised. Any generalization regarding a people group is prejudicial. The Jewish People are a microcosm of mankind—representing a full spectrum of the human condition—from the worst to the very best in human nature, from the secular to the most spiritual and holy—and everything in between! One cannot say, “The Jews are…” anything defined in earthly terms, for they are all things. All we can honestly say is that they are the Chosen of God and have a specific purpose in His redemptive plan.

It is critical that we avoid disparaging the people and things the Jewish People hold dear. Search your heart. Ask God to give you the love and respect that will reveal His heart as you share with His People.

What Should We Do?

We’ve talked about what not to do in sharing Yeshua with Jewish People. Now we need to discuss what we can and should be doing.

1.  Learn to share the Gospel from the Old Testament

One of the best ways you can talk to Jewish People about Yeshua is to share the Gospel from the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the story of man’s sin and resulting separation from God. Beginning with the first chapters of Genesis on through to the last sentence in the book of Malachi, it clearly shows our need for a Redeemer and sets the stage for His arrival.

Jesus pointed to Old Testament Scriptures to prove He was the Messiah. Some scholars believe He referred to Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 53, Zechariah 12:10, and Malachi 3:1—all Old Testament verses in this passage from Luke’s gospel.  

He [Jesus] said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. —Luke 24:25-27

Acts 28:23 tells us that the Apostle Paul expounded on the Scriptures to show that Jesus was the promised Messiah. There was no New Testament for them to use—these guys hadn’t written it yet. They were busy fulfilling their call to “go and tell.” The record of their experiences is the New Testament. They used Jewish Scriptures to prove that Yeshua was exactly who He claimed to be. You can do the same with a little study.

The Hebrew Scriptures contain many references to Yeshua: the virgin birth, the rejection by His People, His atoning death on the cross. Just keep in mind, however, that we must not just assume that Jewish People know the Old Testament chapter and verse. Most of them don’t, especially not in America. I’ve seen statistics that indicate only about ten percent of all Jews are actively involved in reading and studying the Bible.

Most Jews reject Jesus because they’ve been told that you can’t be Jewish and believe in Jesus. As previously mentioned, a strong message over two thousand years that Jesus is not for Jews has helped to feed that belief. Beyond that, there are many theological complexities. It is simply tradition for others.

2.  Scriptures you can use

There are some particular Scriptures that can help open Jewish eyes to the Messiahship of Yeshua:

And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.—Daniel 9:26 NKJV

This powerful passage places the arrival and death of the Messiah before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred in 70 A.D. under Titus when Rome crushed Israel, sacked Jerusalem, and burned and destroyed the Temple. As an added bonus, we are told that the Messiah will be cut off, or put to death, but not for his own wrongdoing.

Who has gone up to heaven and come down?

Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands?

Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak?

Who has established all the ends of the earth?

What is his name, and the name of his son?

Tell me if you know! —Proverbs 30:4

Obviously, this passage refers to God and clearly states that He has a Son. Then there is Isaiah 53. The entire passage is a treasure to both Jew and Christian, so rich in its depiction of God’s purpose. Limited space prohibits reprinting it in its entirety here, but I urge you to look it up and even read it aloud. God sent Yeshua to pay the price for the entire burden of sin for all mankind—which had separated God from His People.

Isaiah saw it all a full eight centuries before the Messiah came, but he saw what was required and realized that God’s plan called for providing a Savior who would willingly sacrifice His life for all. God’s purpose was and is to set us free, and therefore, reconcile us to Himself.

Both John and Paul quoted Isaiah 53 verse 1 (see John 12:38 and Romans 10:16). To me, it is clear that Isaiah was describing an individual in verse 2—the Messiah—who would bear the sins of the world. Matthew (see v. 8:17) witnessed Jesus healing people and was reminded of the text from Isaiah 53:4. Peter then expanded on it in 1 Peter 2:24 when he said Yeshua died, bearing our sins in His body on a tree.

The psalmist David’s portrayal of the crucifixion in Psalm 22 is another prophecy that is so completely accurate in its detail. Granted, David was a psalmist and didn’t consider himself to be a prophet. But in verse one, when he asks why God had forsaken him, David takes us immediately to Yeshua’s words from the tree of death. When he wrote the psalm, it appeared to David that God had separated Himself from him, yet assurance had returned by verse 24 when he said, “He [God] has not hidden his face…but has listened to his cry for help.”

I personally don’t believe it is possible to read that Scripture with an open mind and remain unmoved by its depiction of the genuine suffering that Yeshua endured as He died for the sins of mankind.

3.  Jewish objections to Yeshua

Yeshua’s claim of divinity is one of the biggest objections Jewish People have with regard to Yeshua as Messiah. They’ll tell you that there are no passages in the Old Testament to indicate that Messiah will be anything more than a man. He’ll be very special and even anointed, but He won’t be divine.

They also object to teachings on the Trinity and say that Christians believe in three gods, while Jews believe in only one. And yet, right in the first chapter of Genesis, the Creator says,

Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness...—Genesis 1:26 (emphasis mine)

Another good passage to overcome Jewish objections to Yeshua is Micah 5, which refers to a ruler whose origins are from of old:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace. —Micah 5:2-5

Also:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.—Isaiah 9:6

A child who would be called Mighty God? How can you deny that this passage is speaking about Someone who is of divine origin? You can’t!

I also like to point to Jeremiah’s passage describing God’s new covenant with the People of Israel, in which He will remember their sins no more. Here again is a reference to the grace God offers through the atoning sacrifice of His Son.

“No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”—Jeremiah 31:34

4.  They don’t care what you know, until . . .

Another great way to reach the Jewish People for Yeshua is to show them His love. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is the absolute truth.

Yeshua’s own brother, author of the book of James, addresses this when he writes,

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? —James 2:15-16

The apostle John asks,

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. —1 John 3:17-18

Once people are secure in the knowledge of our love and respect for them, they cannot deny God’s power or His mercy. Seeds have been planted that will eventually produce an abundant harvest of souls. Pray. Ask the Lord to lead and guide you to those who are open to the Good News. Ask Him to draw Jewish People to those whom He has prepared for the harvest and believe that spiritually blind eyes are being opened and spiritually deaf ears are opening—right now.

 

 

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