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Sharing Yeshua

Description

Jonathan Bernis provides tips to help you share your testimony with your Jewish friends, coworkers and family members.

From time to time, friends ask me how to share their faith in Yeshua (Jesus) with Jewish friends and acquaintances. I really enjoy addressing this issue for a variety of reasons, but mostly because too few of us know where to begin to speak to this very important question in the most sensitive, yet effective, way.

I have found that many Christians in my acquaintance have grown up with a somewhat vague awareness that the Jews are God’s Chosen People. But seldom are they given any information beyond that. They know little or nothing about the historical and foundational heritage of the Jewish People.

As a result, various misconceptions can arise regarding Jewish practices and traditions, including an erroneous belief that all Jews reject Jesus as their Messiah. What instantly comes to my mind is how about the apostle Paul, the twelve disciples, the 120 believers gathered for prayer in Acts 1:15, and the 3,000 who accepted Him later on the day of Pentecost? All were Jews!

In reality, most contemporary Jews have no idea who Jesus is. When a Jewish Person hears the name, Jesus Christ, they automatically think the God of Christianity rather than the Jewish Messiah or Savior of the world. It’s not that Jewish People have rejected Jesus; they simply don’t know who He is.

Another common misconception that some Christians have is that the Jewish People have their own path to God and don’t need Messiah for salvation. As a teenager I heard the Gospel a few times from zealous Christians, but when I responded by telling them that I was Jewish, I always seemed to get an apology. Surprisingly, many believe that it is an act of good will not to share the Gospel with Jewish People! This couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only do Jewish People need Yeshua for salvation like everyone else, but Romans 1:16 tells us that the Gospel is “to the Jew first.”

A third misconception Christians may have that often hinders them from sharing their faith is that all Jewish People know the Bible better than they do. Wrong again. Only about 10 percent of the Jewish Community is actually Orthodox and actively involved in the study of Scripture. The truth is that although the Jewish People are referred to as the People of the Book, the majority of Jewish People have never even read their own Bible.

Clearing up these misconceptions is important in order to break down some of the barriers that have kept believers from effectively reaching Jewish People. Allow me to provide a few key pointers that will help you to reach out to your Jewish friends, co-workers and family members.

Where do you start witnessing to a Jew?

Be a friend. First and foremost, I believe you have to care enough to watch, listen and see what’s going on in his or her life. For example, if you can tell that someone doesn’t even believe in God, it’s probably not a good idea to jump right in about Yeshua being the Anointed One. If someone doesn’t believe in sin, you don’t want to begin by talking about how Yeshua bore the sins of all mankind. It’s a great time to begin practicing a whole new level of thoughtful sensitivity, and prayer is the key.

Pray, Pray, Pray!

We need to pray for our Jewish family, friends and loved ones. Heartfelt and effectual prayer moves the hand of God. It is really the only thing that changes people’s hearts. As much as we try to encourage or persuade others, only God can change the hearts of men. I have known the Lord since 1980, and only one other member of my family is a believer in Yeshua. But I am praying and believing God that my entire family will one day know Yeshua as their Messiah.

Keep in mind that we walk by faith and not by sight. The God of Israel, who does all things well, desires for your friends and family members to come to faith…even more than you do! Trust Him to love them—through you and others—and reveal Himself to them.

Be a Friend

Our actions show that we care. We need to let our light so shine that everyone around us knows we have a special relationship with God. The apostle Paul says of the Jews in Romans 11:11, 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. 

When our Jewish friends see us in close relationship with God, they will be provoked to envy. We may not see it. We may even feel that they find our faith amusing, in a condescending way. But when trouble strikes that friend, they will find a way to get to us. Suddenly they’ll begin to ask questions that they never asked before. If you’ve always been there, showing them love, they will turn to you when the time is right. In the 55th chapter of Isaiah, the prophet reminds us in verse 11 that the Word of God never returns to Him empty, but it always accomplishes what God sent it to do.  

Learn to Share the Gospel from the Old Testament

It has been said that the New Testament is concealed in the Old and the Old Testament is revealed in the New. The Old Testament is the story of man’s sin and resulting separation from God. From Genesis to Malachi, it clearly shows our need for a Redeemer and sets the stage for His arrival.

Well over 300 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament unmistakably reveal the identity of the Messiah. With just a little focused study, you can learn many of these key prophecies. The fact that the Old Testament pinpoints in such detail the virgin birth (see Isaiah 7:14), where the Messiah would be born (Micah 5:2-5), how and why He would die and His atoning death on the cross (see Psalm 22). It is impossible to read Psalm 22 with an open mind and not be moved by its depiction of the suffering Yeshua endured as He died for the sins of mankind.

Isaiah 53 tells us that His people would reject Him, that He would be pierced and crushed for our iniquities. It goes on and on. The fact that Jesus fulfills these ancient prophecies, written hundreds of years before He was born, are objective proofs of His Messiahship and the supernatural nature of Scripture.

When we are told in Acts that the apostles expounded on the Scriptures to show that Jesus was the promised Messiah (see Acts 28:23), we need to remember that there was no New Testament for them to use. They used the Jewish Scriptures as their text, and we can do this too. Remember, the Old Testament can be common ground for Christians and Jews who believe the Hebrew Scriptures are the inspired Word of God.

Yeshua Himself pointed to Old Testament Scriptures in Luke 24:27 to prove that He was exactly who He claimed to be. 

Over the years I have had the incredible privilege of leading many of my own Jewish brethren to Messiah through key Messianic prophecies in our own Jewish Scriptures. It is absolutely amazing to watch the scales fall from their eyes as they see with their own eyes powerful Messianic prophecies like Isaiah 53 and Jeremiah 31:31-33! Their response, often with tears falling from their eyes, is always the same, “Why didn’t anyone ever show this to me before?”

Use Effective and Correct Terminology

Names such as Jesus Christ, and words like Christian, church, convert, baptize, etc., have an entirely different meaning for a Jewish person than they do for a Christian. For the first 20 years of my life until I found the Lord, I thought Jesus Christ was the God of the Christians—that Jesus was His first name and Christ was His family name, i.e., “Jesus Christ, son of Mr. and Mrs. Christ.” 

I wasn’t aware that Jesus was Jewish and His original given name was Yeshua, which is the Hebrew word that means salvation. This is precisely why Joseph was commanded to give Him this name, because…He would save His people from their sins (see Mathew 1:21). When a Jewish person hears the word Christ, they don’t know that the name Christ is derived from the Greek term Christos, meaning anointed one. It is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Mashiach or Messiah. Any Jewish person will relate to Messiah. Use Messiah instead of Christ when speaking with your Jewish friends. Give your Jewish friends the opportunity to observe you reverently and respectfully referring to Jesus by His Hebrew name, Yeshua.

Take time to become skilled at the terminology that a Jewish person can easily relate to. And perhaps most important, make it clear that a Jew does not have to convert to Christianity to be saved; they simply need to accept their Messiah, who was promised in their own Torah by the prophets.

Share Your Own Testimony

Jewish People love the supernatural. I find that very often people who don’t want to be preached at or have the Bible discussed in their presence are still very interested to hear what happened in your life that caused such a dramatic change. Let them know that the same God who changed your life can and will do exactly the same for them.

The End of the Age is Coming

We must redouble our efforts to reach God’s Chosen People with the Gospel. We can’t let them die without Yeshua. We can’t allow them to be counted among God’s enemies when the final trumpet sounds. Time is running short for Planet Earth. It is devastating to think that people you love will miss out on the joys of Heaven, simply because they have never said yes to the Messiah.

Jesus discussed the signs of the times in Matthew 24. He specifically asks, “Do you see all these things?” We need to live in expectant anticipation of His next appearance! All who belong to Messiah could go zooming up and out of this planet to meet the Lord in the air at any time. In verses 40-42, He is talking about the Rapture, when we believers will rise into the air to meet our Messiah and begin our eternal lives in the glory of Heaven. How it will occur, I do not know. What I do know is that this will be the end of life on earth as we know it. What I also know is this: Yeshua is coming soon. We must be educated and do all that we can to prepare ourselves and those we love for His return!

For further study, please feel free write me at JVMI, P.O. Box 81439, Phoenix, AZ 85069-1439, and I will send you a list of books that deal in depth with this subject. And if you have any questions about Israel, Jewish People, Messianic Judaism or the Jewish Roots of Christianity, please drop me a note.

 

 

 

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