Disqualifying Jesus

 

Cow TippingVirtually all Christians think Jews must convert to Christianity. Since this is so blatantly anachronistic, based on our religion’s source material (“Old & “New” Testaments) how do we arrive at this conclusion? Scripture has never been more accessible; it’s no longer illegal to have a copy, it’s not locked in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek–or the early Latin translations–Luther’s German Bible was published 479 years ago, and Wycliffe’s English Bible 629 years ago!

So, what’s the deal?

Sojourning with Jews has been a bit like peering through a magnifying glass. This post will discuss how that magnification began to reveal some hidden blemishes.

Fun Fact #1

Flip to Acts Chapter 9 in your Bible and you’re likely to see a chapter heading that says something like: Paul’s Conversion. Not all translations have chapter headings, some allow the reader to arrive at their own conclusions. Other translations make a statement of fact, such as: Paul meets the risen LORD. 

But some of the most popular English versions of the Bible, such as the NIV, NKJV, ESV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, NET, and NLT, come with freebie commentaries included right in the chapter headings, where they unequivocally tell you that [Saul] the Jew “converted” to become a Christian!

Even if that isn’t in your version of the Bible, if you go to church, it’s in the air you breath; It’s in the notes, commentaries, sermons, books and so on. Entire doctrines are created from this. Oh, and his name changed too.

This is nothing but urban legend because Paul neither converted, nor had his name changed. (I already wrote about it, you can read more here.)

He was born Jewish and was named Sha’ul, but he was also a Roman citizen and therefore had a Greek name (Paulos [Paul]) long before he ever encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. He never “converted” because 1) the Messiah was promised to the Jews and therefore was contained within Judaism and 2) Christianity didn’t exist yet.

So, Christians want Jews to convert to a religion that didn’t become what we know it to be (more or less) until about the fourth century, and was definitely unheard of in the first century when Jesus and his disciples walked in Jerusalem and the Galilee.

Kinda weird.

Jews & Christians Speak Different Languages

When modern Christians (who don’t know Church history) say they want Jews to convert to Christianity, what they really mean is they want Jewish people to accept Jesus as the Messiah because he is the one God promised to send them in the “Old Testament” prophecies. Besides, Jesus is loving, kind, compassionate and merciful, brings healing to broken people and gives rest to weary souls. (Can I get an amen?) To the Christian, he is held so dear, and is offered to others out of true compassion and love.

The Christian sincerely wants the Jew (and others) to know his peace, rest, and love, and to reconcile with God. (the reasoning goes: If Jesus is the Messiah, then God sent him, if God sent him, then it would be rejecting God to reject the one He sent).

When modern Jews, (who mostly do know the ghastly Church history their modern Christian interlocutor is unaware of) are presented with entering into a relationship with Jesus, some react as if they heard something far different than an offer of “love”, “peace” and reconciliation with God.

What many Jews “hear” is something no Christian can even wrap their minds around: Death, destruction, hate, annihilation, Hitler killing another Jew, and so on.

“You Killed Jesus”

I watched a video of a Holocaust survivor who said the Germans told her everyday that they were committing atrocities against her and her mother because they “killed Jesus.”This girl had never even heard of Jesus prior to the camps. She said that she hated him because he was the cause of all her pain and all of the destruction around her. How many Jews had similar experiences? How else could she feel about him?

As a Christian, that made me sick.

To sum up: Most Jews know next to nothing about Jesus. At least, not the way we Christians know him. And Christians know next to nothing about the failures of “the Church”, or how Jesus has been used as a tool of hate and destruction against millions of his own family.

Jews, on the other hand, know all about the hate, destruction, and failures of “the Church”, and virtually nothing of the beautiful savior we’ve come to adore.

Fun Fact #2

To compound our error, we try to convince Jews to convert, by telling them about a false messiah.

I know, I know, I’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do…

Satan has tried to counterfeit and pervert everything God has done to benefit His people, so He gave clear guidelines, to protect them.

He’s an invisible God who’s made serious demands upon their behavior. So, how were they to know when some Tom, Dick, or Shlomo came along and tried to lead them astray? What “guidelines” did God give? It’s simple really: a prophet from God had to be 100% accurate, and if they weren’t, they were false and were to, umm…die.

Read Deut 18:20-22

Christians understand that Messiah is promised all the way back in Genesis 3:15, and lots more places besides. However, we forget a few critical things, for example, Deuteronomy 12:32 [13:1 in Jewish Bibles]:

“Everything I am commanding you, you are to take care to do. Do not add to it or subtract from it

Immediately after saying the Word/Torah of God cannot be added to or subtracted from, it says that if a prophet or dreamer gets a message, even if he gives a sign or wonder that comes to pass as predicted, if he then says:

‘Let’s follow other gods, which you have not known; and let us serve them, you are not to listen to what that prophet or dreamer says. For ADONAI your God is testing you, in order to find out whether you really do love ADONAI your God with all your heart and being. You are to follow ADONAI your God, fear him, obey his mitzvot, listen to what he says, serve him and cling to him; and that prophet or dreamer is to be put to death; because he urged rebellion against ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from a life of slavery; in order to seduce you away from the path ADONAI your God ordered you to follow. This is how you are to rid your community of this wickedness.

So how could the the Promised One, Son of God, Messiah, and Redeemer, who is Righteous, not fulfill God’s requirements, or lead Israel to disobey what God told them to do?

Couple this with the fact that the Sinai Covenant and commandments are forever, and we’ve been way off in our message. (Exod 12:14, 31:13, 12:42, Lev 3:17, 22:3, 23:41 to list a few)

We Don’t Know What We Are Saying

disqualifiedI was in a meeting once with a group of Christian caregivers. One member, a University professor who’d served our country in high levels of the defense department for over 30 years, shared a love of C. S. Lewis with me, so we were chatting away. At one point he (I’ll call him Fred) got on a roll about Jesus supposedly rightfully breaking and abolishing the law [Torah], and then scoffed at how the “legalistic Pharisees and Sadducees” didn’t comprehend that grace was now the “new kid on the block.”

“Well Fred, you do realize that you just disqualified Jesus from being the Messiah then, right? According to scripture, the Messiah will uphold God’s Torah, and anyone teaching Israel to abandon it is a false teacher.”

His ego kicked in here. He’s older than me, far more educated, and male. So naturally, he’s right, and I was a heretic. :-)

To be fair, if there were no more Jews on the planet, if they’d gone the way of the Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, or Amorites for example, then the errors contained in the Christian understanding of the Torah, the Jewish people, Paul and Jesus, wouldn’t matter much.

But Jews do still exist, and they aren’t going away. Therefore, it matters a great deal.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road

Many Christians have been in this conundrum:

“Why don’t you [Jew] believe in Jesus as the Messiah? It’s all right there, it’s plain as day, and so obvious, look at the prophecies.”

To which a Jew may reply:

“Because I’m Jewish, Jews don’t believe in Jesus.”

At which point [most] Christians will say:

“But…Jesus, and his disciples were Jewish.”

Now, this is a very strange thing to say since we have been stripping Jesus and his disciples of his/their Jewishness for almost 2k years now. (may I remind you of Fun Fact’s 1 & 2 for starters?)

As a little girl in the 60’s, I loved Jesus’ long blond hair and blue eyes. In fact, I didn’t know why my dad said he hated “long-haired hippies” so much, and that they looked like “bleepity bleep girls”, because Jesus had long hair!

For the record, I do not believe Jesus is a false teacher or false Messiah (or that he had blonde hair). I believe he’s is The Holy One sent by God who fulfilled the Messiah ben Joseph prophecies, and at some point in the future will fulfill the Messiah ben David prophecies–and that he’s swarthy.

My prayer is that Christians will stop presenting a false version of Jesus to the Jewish people, and stop expecting them to convert to our religion. They have a task, as we do, and as we begin to humble ourselves, and avail ourselves of the astounding insights afforded to us by Jewish scholars who are interacting with the New Testament, coupled with the Dead Sea Scroll findings, we’ll begin to see a picture emerge that has been obscured for very long time. (Praise God!)

The Jews who followed Jesus were not Christians, they were fully observant Jews.And, the Gentiles who followed him later weren’t

We have distinction, and that’s okay! We need to figure this thing out. Finally…

23 thoughts on “Disqualifying Jesus

  1. A Messianic Jew commented about this very topic on one of my blog posts yesterday. Here’s part of what he said:

    I will assert that it is exactly true that Imperial Roman Christianity invented a non-Jewish Greek-style demigod whom they called by the Greek name “Iesous”, which via Latinization and later German transliteration became “Jesus”. They did so by means of misinterpretations of the apostolic writings filtered through the lens of their inherent anti-Jewish prejudices. For a Jew to embrace this image as Messiah would be idolatry and apostasy, which is worse than unbelief. It’s not such a great image for non-Jews, either.

    This is why, in a nutshell, most Jews, even if they came to faith in the Yeshua of the Apostolic Scriptures as Moshiach, would still not be converting to “Christianity” and worshiping the “Goyishe” Jesus.

  2. If Jews are commanded to not be proselytizing to the other nations to join theirs, why must other religions make us have their beliefs, even if just in their savior? Deciphering Jewish works without sitting next to a Torah-observant Jew, preferably with smicha since that would mean they have been trained how to learn extensively, to explain to them the texts, are like people learning Calculus 4 without a teacher because they know algebra, so it must all be the same.

    The Torah is not a history book. It’s also not something you can read one line and understand exactly what it means. By singling out specific posukim and creating an entire understanding on one, rather than in the context of the whole text it was written in, is missing the whole concept. Aside from the fact that the written words, in English nonetheless, is not the whole essence of it.

    There’s the underlying concepts of the Torah, the texts in between the lines, let alone all of the commentaries associated with each and every posukim, and those commentaries have commentaries.

    I suggest to go to your local Chabad and to explain to the rabbi your situation and that you want to learn about Judaism. You can begin to see how much is really written in each posukim, the one line that is maybe 10 words ends up being pages long of commentary alone. Ask him about why he doesn’t have a belief in Yeshka.

    • Chana, thanks for commenting.

      Although Judaism maintains that the “Oral Torah” was given to Moses along with the Written Torah, and there is an interesting argument for this, there’s also the other argument, contained in the written Torah, such as in Ex 24:4 that says Moses wrote down all of God’s words, Ex 24:7 that says the book of the covenant is complete, Ex 34:27 that says the written covenant (by Moses) is the covenant, Deut 1:1-3, 1:5, 4:8, 5:1, 13:1, 17:18-19, 28:58 and many more.

      It’s true in the 1st century they called it the “traditions of the elders” and Yeshua himself followed many of them, however, they were not codified within Judaism then as they are today. (The Galileans had some different traditions than those in Judah for example.)

      And finally, the Jewish writings you mention (Talmud, commentaries, etc) you mention, while they do shed a lot of light on 1st century Judaism, they weren’t written down until hundreds of years after Yeshua walked the earth, so my appeal in this blog is for Christians to roll back the scroll, so to speak, and not read back into the record things that didn’t exist yet.

      • I don’t know where the idea comes from that Jews do not proselytize. The Jewish people are called to be a light to the nations. I assume this arose during times of Muslim and Christian domination, for the purposes of survival. Various Jewish groups today proselytize both to their particular interpretation/brand of Judaism and also proselytize gentiles into becoming Noahides or converting to Judaism.

        I believe there is a biblical curse upon those who remove or add to the words given from the mouth of the Holy One. If I decided to add to or remove lines from the works of Shakespeare, that would take some audacity, and to think one can do the same to scripture is exponentially so.

        What is happening now? I believe it is a time of removal of blindness and restoration for all who will, in the way of the current parsha, Lech Lecha, be willing to go out from that which is familiar and even from those we love if need be, to go the land he will show us, and to where we will receive blessing and be a blessing.

        • I’m not completely sure where the proselytizing prohibition comes from either, but I suspect you’re right Chaya. And it wasn’t a “commandment” from scripture, but something that developed later. Too bad Gene isn’t here, or PL, perhaps they could shed light on it.

        • The Torah forbids Jews to proselytize other nations to become Jews. If Jews do do this, they are not acting on the Torah. Yes, groups such as Chabad do do outreach to non-affiliated Jews, or non-Torah observant Jews. This is different than converting other religions to Judaism. Yes, we are supposed to educate the nations on the Noahide laws. That is not converting them to Judaism.

          But for believers of Yeshka (I cannot type his whole name as I do not believe in him, but it doesn’t make it wrong for Christians to believe in him) to convince other Jews to become a messianic Jew, that is what I don’t agree with.

          Like I said, it’s wonderful for people of all faiths to have their own faith.

          • Chana, I’ve not seen a prohibition in the Torah on proselytizing, can you please give a reference?
            However, we know God provided for non-Jews who sojourned with Israel based on references to the ger in the Torah in places like Lev 19, 25:45, Ex 12:19 and others. Moses had a wife that wasn’t a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as did many of the patriarchs and so on. There is evidence of proselytization in the 1st century, however, this really isn’t my point at all. I’m with you in that my plea is for Christians to get our theology in order, and stop trying to convert Jews.

          • Thank you. I haven’t started on Vayeira yet, and to be honest, I plan to finish up my studies of Lech Lecha. I do The Rabbi’s Son parsha studies, and If any of you do them, you know each parsha is about 100 pages.

            I am also not aware of any torah prohibition against allowing non-Jews to voluntarily join the nation of Israel, as occurred following the exodus from Egypt, as the group was a mixed multitude. Those who were not descended from the sons of Israel were required to be circumcised and follow torah if they desired to be a part of the nation. I am not talking about forcible conversion. There was to be one torah for the Israelites and for the foreigner that sojourned among us. So, if anyone has any documentation to the contrary, I would be interested in seeing it.

            Chana, are you saying that you don’t believe that Yeshua was born in Beit Lechem about 2,000 years ago and walked the face of this earth? Or are you saying that you don’t believe he fulfills the Messianic prophecies?

            • You’re right, I misspoke about the Torah saying not to proselytize, but rather the Gemara Kesubos. As Jews, we believe that everyone earns their right in the World to Come and heaven, and they do not need to be Jews in order for that right. And that is one of the reasons why Jews do not proselytize non-Jews.

              And yes, I mean that I don’t believe Yeshka to be Moshiach. I definitely believe he existed, and I’m sorry for that mistake.

              I’m glad you are finishing Lech Lecha, and yes, studying Torah and Chasidus is very time consuming. No matter what study you go with, there are suggested daily study portions, and that might help you be able to finish by mincha. Of course, we are always given until Tuesday, just like with Shabbat, as well as for personal benefit it’s always good to finish each parsha.

              I debated with myself about posting something on this post in the first place. And I did, and maybe I should have kept to myself. But I just felt uncomfortable reading so many posts — not just those written here and maybe this isn’t what you were conveying but it’s what I got out of it — urging Jews to believe in Yeshka. Jews in America are not as proud as we should be.

              I’m glad there are so many religions, and this world wouldn’t be what it is today without all of them. So yes, thank G-d there is Christianity, Islam and all of the other wonderful religions.

      • I love the fact that there are so many different faiths in the world, but they were all created for a reason. Discuss it with Torah observant Jews. It can’t hurt to see their argument for why they don’t believe in Yeshka. I suggest that you do that before telling Jews what to believe.

        • Chana, I believe you have missed my clear message in this post, which was restated in my first response to you, and that is: this post is an appeal to Christians who have historically presented a false version of Jesus–whose Hebrew name is Yeshua–to the Jewish people. This false version, along with the pressure to convert to Christianity, has caused much harm and destruction to the Jewish people.

          I have not told any Jews what to believe.

          • I guess I feel that this post was saying how Jews shouldn’t convert to Christianity, but remain Jews and observe Torah and mitzvot while believing in Yeshka (as I stated before, I cannot type his whole name since I do not believe in him). I just don’t believe in Jews being asked to believe in Yeshka.

            The current parsha, Chaya, is Vayeira, as Lech Lecha was finished yesterday, Shabbat.

            I love that you are so passionate about your faith, and if I missed the entire message, I’m sorry for that.

            • Chana, we are all on a learning curve, eh? And I know your journey is teaching you a lot, as your faith unfolds and you understand God in ways you hadn’t before. I appreciate your input and I too like the diversity. We can and should be passionate about our faith, and at the end of the day trust that God will be the final judge, and He will judge righteously and mercifully.

  3. Pingback: “Disqualifying Jesus” : recommended article. | Onesimus Files

  4. Shalom Ruth. Absolutely excellent post. I’m new to your space and it seems to me, after reading some of your posts and thinking for over a week about it i will be around now more often. I cannot find words to express my gratitude to you to be a sojourner with my people. Real quality. Not much I can add to this post, but one thing. B’H not all of us use “Yoshke” I’m orthodox and observant and a Jew as any Jew could be, and as a Jew (im not convert ither this way or another) Im glad that another Jew many years ago told me one thing must important in the life of any Jew (and everyone else). This is not a conversion, we have and need nothing to convert.

  5. Eli, (is this right?)
    Thank you for your kind reply. It isn’t easy to navigate the path I’m on, as a life long Christian whose awaked to the horrors of my religion’s past–especially while married to a Jewish man! I attempt to make my posts palatable to anyone who has a working knowledge of either Judaism or Christianity, and wish to harm neither, so your comment is well received.

    Welcome to my blog and I look forward to your input.

    • Ruth. I know, its not easy. (I have my wife – non Jewish and Christian). There is few things to sort out for us Jewish man with Christian wives. Just to say that posts well don and easy to read. In a few days i will do some comments on sojourning with the Jew (not only in marriage) This have being quite involvement for me. Very important issue.

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