Dear friend in the Messiah,
Shalom and Happy Passover. I must admit, it is very unusual to observe Passover after already celebrating Easter. This is the result of the early church deciding not to follow the Jewish calendar! This decision was made at the Council of Nicaea in 325AD and, in my opinion, and it reflects a symptom of a deeper problem we address each and every day as we try and reach Jewish people for Jesus the Messiah.
The Chasm Between Jesus and the Jewish People
Jewish people generally feel alienated from the Gospel. This chasm between Jesus and the Jewish community becomes even more profound during the holiday season. We so often define ourselves religiously by the holidays we keep. For example, Jewish people celebrate Passover and Christians celebrate Easter. If it were a different season of the year, I would say that Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah, and Christians celebrate Christmas.
Oftentimes I wonder how this difficult situation we face today came to be and why it is that Jewish people feel so distant from the One we believe to be the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures—the Jewish Messiah.
May I tell you a quick story about my grandparents? It might help you understand how Jewish people feel about the Jewish relationship to Jesus and Christianity.
I remember a conversation I had with my paternal grandparents many years ago. My father and I were visiting his parents and we were eating lunch at the table in my grandparents’ apartment in Coney Island, Brooklyn. My dear grandparents were trying to figure out why I believed in Jesus and not Moses or Marx.
I finally had the chance to get a word in and asked a question. I said, “Dad does not believe in God, and like Grandpa he never attends synagogue. Yet, he still says that he is Jewish. I, on the other hand, believe in the God of our fathers, learned Hebrew, married a Jewish girl but believe Jesus is the Messiah. Which one of us is the better Jew?” Grandma did not hesitate to respond. “Your father,” she replied. And I dare say she spoke for the majority of the Jewish community!
What she really was saying is that being Jewish is not a matter of belief, but rather of community identity. And a Jewish person can retain that identity as long as certain lines are not crossed. However, if you do transgress one of these unseen parameters, you could easily cross over and out of the Jewish community. Believing in Jesus is one of those lines, perhaps the boldest of the lines, and once you cross over, there is no return save the renunciation of your beliefs. In other words, you do not remain in the community by virtue of your beliefs, but you can be removed because of them.
The Jewish people you meet might be resistant to the Gospel far more because of their fear of community sanctions than because of any theological disagreement over the true Messiah. Jewish people are generally not going to consider the Gospel—because they feel far away from Jesus, view Him as the God of the Gentiles and have a deep fear of being cast out of the Jewish community for even thinking about Jesus.
The Lord must shed an abundance of grace in the heart of the average Jewish person in order for them to make the great step of faith to follow Jesus when the Jewish community would understand this belief as an act of ethnic suicide. It was certainly a difficult decision for me having been raised in a traditional Jewish home!
How Can You Help?
You can try to help your Jewish friend understand that Jesus is Jewish, the New Testament was written by Jewish people and that all of the early followers of Jesus were Jewish. In fact, the disciples celebrated Passover and other Jewish festivals, never rejected their Jewish identity and did not choose to leave the Jewish community.
The disciples believed that you could be Jewish and believe that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.
You can take some very practical steps even during this Passover season to help your Jewish friends understand that Jesus is Jewish and that Christians have a deep appreciation for their Old Testament heritage.
Passover is a great time to do this because, unlike some of the other Jewish holidays, most Jewish people celebrate Passover and have a family Passover seder (meal). And of course, Jesus clearly linked Himself to the Passover!
You can also give a small gift to your Jewish friend that shows your sensitivity to the holiday season. You might give your Jewish friend a box of macaroons, wonderful coconut cookies that are made without leaven… this is a Jewish favorite—especially the ones that are dipped in dark chocolate!
This demonstration of love and sensitivity will go a long way to showing your Jewish friends that Jesus is Jewish. It is a way of bringing the Gospel closer to a Jewish person, overcoming the 2,000-year chasm between Jesus and the Jewish people.
You might also celebrate a Passover seder either in your home, with your small group or even at your church.
Chosen People Ministries will be presenting Messiah in the Passover at many different congregations during the holiday season. If you would like to attend one of these demonstrations, please call our Church Ministries office at 888-405-5874 and we will let you know if there is a Messiah in the Passover scheduled at a church near you.
You can also go to our website and learn more about the Passover. We have prepared a booklet to help you understand more about Passover that you can request on our website, and you can also look at some of the Passover videos we have made that can actually show you how to do a Passover seder in your home.
Is it any wonder that Jesus chose Passover as the time to announce the inauguration of the New Covenant between God and man? The focus of Passover is the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt. Of course, Jesus gives the Passover a deeper meaning demonstrating that new life, forgiveness of sin and an eternity in heaven are assured to those who have faith in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Let’s not allow the Jewish community we love to feel alienated from Jesus. I hope this Passover season will afford you the opportunity to help your Jewish friends see Jesus in the Passover! That will be a great place to begin your witness.
Thank you so much for your faithfulness, love and support of Chosen People Ministries. We are doing all we can in 16 countries and over 20 cities in North America to bring the Good News of Jesus the Messiah to the Jewish people.
I also hope that you will consider supporting Chosen People Ministries on a regular basis. This is why we created the Watchmen for Jerusalem program. Please click here to sign up!
Thank you again for your love and faithfulness and Happy Passover!
In the Lamb,