This is a continuation of my experience of being invited to a local synagogue to address a class of post Bar/Bat mitzvah students studying “Comparative Judaism”. Several questions that were asked of me had to do more specifically with Yeshua. One question was why would a Jewish person believe that Jesus is the Messiah? Why would a Jewish person identify themselves as a Messianic Jew. I explained that the reason is directly related to the Messiahship of Yeshua. The motivation for a Jewish person to embrace messianic Judaism is the forgiveness of sins that the Messiah provided via his death and resurrection. I shared my story of being confronted with the claims of the Messiah and realizing that repentance and tzedakah were not enough to have atonement for my sins – according to the Torah. I told the class that I came to believe that only in Yeshua could I truly find atonement for my sins. In other words, I and other Jewish people have come to believe in yeshua because of the spiritual reality of the forgiveness of sins and a unique intimacy with God. I told everyone that this is very important to us because we believe every word of the Torah. We believe that Moses really lived and that the events of Mt. Sinai truly occurred and that we are accountable to God. This is why we are in need of atonement that cannot be provided by our observance of Yom Kippur – that only comes by the work of the Messiah. The teacher than said that her observation of us and of Christians is that we seem to be “sin driven.” I said that we are not “sin driven” but that we are “blessing driven.” We desire the blessing God but our sins get in the way. Therefore we emphasize the confession of sin. I said that even though we are forgiven of our sins, we still are quite human and therefore sin. As a result we continue to confess our sins. However, our services are full of life and this attracts people to come. I described a typical service consisting of music, traditional prayer, Torah reading and sermon. People who do not embrace Yeshua have come and have been impressed with the atmosphere and content of the service.
This led to asking if our concept of the Messiah is the same as the traditional Jewish concept of Messiah. I said that the answer is “yes and no” We believe that the Messiah will bring peace and spiritual transformation to the world. However, we also believe that he provides atonement for us today. This is why he could not be only a man. We also believe that he is the incarnation God. I said that according to the Bible, God appeared to Abraham, to Hagar, to Joshua and to Manoah the father of Samson to name a few. The text does not infer that these were visions or dreams. In fact in several cases – Hagar and Manoah – they cried out that they had seen God. The highest form of manifestation was the true enfleshment of God that we read about in the New covenant about Yeshua. This is a mystery that cannot be explained completely.
Another question was what do we do about the “anti-Semitic” passages in the New testament. I said that these statements are not anti-Semitic. They were directed to people whom the text describes as hypocrites They are not blanket statements against the Jewish people. I mentioned another statement in the bible “But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing (Ezek. 16:15). I said that this passage and others like it are found in the Tanakh! The point of these kinds of statements in both the prophets and the New Testament are designed to get us to respond by repenting of our sins. Just as it was a small minority of people who embraced the words of the prophets so too it is a small group of Jewish people who embrace the Messiah.
There were other questions and statements during my visit. I appreciated the dialogue and the spirit in which the questions came. I felt that I was able to explain the very basics of Messianic Judaism which was the purpose of my visit.