Jesus, the Passover Lamb

Dear friend in the Messiah,

Shalom in His peace. April is an important month for both Jews and Christians as we celebrate some of our most faith-defining holidays: Passover, Good Friday, Easter, and a number of other sacred occasions, depending on our backgrounds.

Churches will be packed as multitudes remember the death of our Savior and celebrate His resurrection from the dead. Thousands upon thousands of folks who do not usually go to church, many of whom do not know the Lord, will attend services this month, hear the Gospel, and be saved.

Something similar happens in the Messianic Jewish community and throughout the branches and centers of Your Mission to the Jewish People – from Israel to New Zealand and in my hometown of Brooklyn!

Our Messianic congregations and centers will host evangelistic Passover Seders where you can bring your Jewish friends to hear the Gospel in a Jewish context during a holiday they are familiar with and have celebrated their entire lives.

Of course, many of our Jewish family and friends have not yet had the joy of linking the celebration of Passover with the coming of the Messiah. This will be new and eye-opening information for your Jewish friends, presented in a way that is not offensive in any way.

I hope you will be able to bring your friends and family to one of our Passover banquets. If you would like to know where you can attend a local Passover banquet, please call 212-223-2252 and we would be happy to pass along this information to you.

Our staff will also be traveling around North America presenting Messiah in the Passover. This is a wonderful presentation connecting the Last Supper and the Lord’s Supper! May I tell you a little bit more about the Messiah in the Passover Presentation?

During the presentation, a table draped with a white tablecloth is placed on the platform and beautifully set up with the many traditional Passover elements. Our staff member then explains each element, one by one…expounding on the traditional Jewish Passover Seder in light of the Last Supper.

The Jewish backgrounds of the cup of wine and the broken bread Jesus partook of during the evening before His death will be explained, as will the connection between the blood smeared on the doorposts of the Israelite homes in Egypt at the first Passover, with the blood shed by our Messiah on Calvary.

A NEW BOOK: MESSIAH IN THE PASSOVER

There is so much more to tell you about Messiah in the Passover that we decided to write an entire book on the topic! In fact, as you read this letter, the book is being printed and is literally “hot off the press.” I am especially proud of this volume, as it has been a labor of love to produce, and Chosen People Ministries’ staff members authored most of the chapters.

The title of the book is Messiah in the Passover and it was edited by Dr. Darrell Bock, a professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary and a Chosen People Ministries board member, and myself. We cover a full range of topics including the biblical foundations for the Passover and the Lord’s Supper, the Passover throughout Jewish and Church history, as well as how Jewish people celebrate Passover today.

We provide all that is needed to conduct a Passover Seder in your home which glorifies the Messiah Jesus as the Lamb of God. We have included crafts for the children, delicious Passover recipes, and great detail about how to use the Passover Seder as an evangelistic opportunity to reach your Jewish friends.

A NEW WEBSITE

We have also created a new website entitled—you guessed it…Messiah in the Passover! All you need to do is visit www.messiahinthepassover.com and you will discover the “world of the Passover.” This exciting new site is full of wonderful information, including a number of instructional videos. We also included a very special Passover demonstration that you can send to Jewish friends who do not yet know the Lord.

I hope that you will read some of the book online, order a copy or two, enjoy the videos, and even try some of the recipes! Most of all, I hope you will find the book and the website to be helpful in reaching your Jewish loved ones for the Lord. Passover provides a great way to explain the Gospel to Jewish people in a very Jewish-sensitive way! In fact, one of our most experienced staff members has written a chapter on this very topic.

AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK

May I share with you a brief section from the book, written by Dr. Rich Freeman? Rich is one of our senior staff members and the following is a brief paragraph from his conclusion. Rich writes,

“Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

He is the fulfillment of Passover. Like the first Passover lambs sacrificed to redeem Israel from slavery in Egypt, Jesus’ death on the cross redeems us from slavery to sin. Reflecting on all of this, the Apostle Paul says, “Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7), and just as the first Passover was very personal and the Israelites personally applied the blood of the lambs to the doors of their houses, we too, by faith, need to personally apply the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, to the doors of our hearts.”

Have you made Passover personal? I am sure you will find the Messiah in the Passover book and website to be enriching, and that it will bless you, your family, and your church. You will discover that seeing the Bible through Jewish eyes, and understanding the Jewish roots of the faith, will draw you closer to the Jewish Messiah you love!

This is my fondest hope for the Messiah in the Passover book and website—that the Lord will use these tools to bring you closer to Him.

THERE IS A REASON GOD CHOSE HIS PEOPLE AND WE LOVE THE JEWISH MESSIAH – A FINAL CONCERN AND PRAYER REQUEST

May I share one last concern and prayer request with you? I mentioned last month that we are now witnessing a tragic rise of antisemitism across the globe. Over the last few months, we have received daily reports of increased antisemitism in Europe, North America, and even on our campuses. Last month, you may have heard about the gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in University City, Missouri–a very Jewish suburb of St. Louis.

This is simply horrible and should not happen in a liberty-loving country like ours. I thought these types of heinous expressions of antisemitism ended with the Holocaust; however, unfortunately, this is not true! Antisemitism is on the rise! I believe that followers of Jesus need to link arms and oppose antisemitism.

We understand from the Bible that God chose the Jewish people for a special purpose; we have received the Bible and our Savior through the Jewish people. We also know that one day the Jewish people will repent and turn to Jesus, and then He will return (Romans 11:11-29)! If any group of people should support and stand with the Jewish community, it should be those who serve the God of Israel and love the Jewish Messiah.

So, may I suggest a few ways you can show His love and grace to the Jewish people?

PRAY

Of course, the most obvious way to support the Jewish people is to pray for them. As the Psalmist writes, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; ‘May they prosper who love you’” (Psalm 122:6). Please pray for the end of antisemitism, for the protection of Jewish families, and for the Prince of Peace to reign in the hearts of the Jewish people in Jerusalem and everywhere.

INVITE

Ask your pastor to host a Chosen People Ministries presentation at your church or Messianic congregation.

ACT LOCALLY

The Lord has given us a “Great Commission” to reach a broken world with the message of the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20)—to the Jew first and also to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).

I hope and pray you will reach out to your Jewish friends and neighbors with the Gospel, but, we also need you to speak-up locally if you see some type of antisemitism in your community or even in your state. This will be a powerful testimony to the Jewish community. Thanks again for your love, prayers, and generous support! Have a happy Easter and Passover as we celebrate the Lamb of God—Jesus who is the Savior for all!

In Him,

Mitch

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Cup of Redemption

The Cup of Redemption is the third cup of the Passover Seder and is the first cup to be drunk after the meal. It is believed that it is the Cup of Redemption that Jesus instructed the disciples to partake of in the last supper, since both accounts in Matthew 26:27 and Luke 22:19 describe the cup being taken after the meal. Luke’s account even refers to the last meal Jesus had with his disciples as “Passover” (Luke 17:15). In this verse specifically, Jesus tells His disciples: “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” The Cup of Redemption traditionally signifies the slaying of the Passover lamb that spared the Israelites from the 10th plague of the slaying of the first born. This cup traditionally remembers how the Lord redeems Israel with an outstretched arm.

Therefore, it is so very poignant when Jesus tells His disciples that the wine in this cup is “My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” As the blood of the Passover Lamb covered the believing Israelites and Egyptians back in Egypt, so the blood of Jesus covers Jewish and Gentile believers today!

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Finding God In Middle Earth

Dear friend in the Messiah,

Shalom in the glorious name of Jesus our Messiah! This newsletter will highlight our various short-term outreach ministries around the globe where we give volunteers and staff the opportunity to reach Jewish people.

Just recently, I was in New Zealand where I was able to witness the amazing work there among Israeli backpackers. Thanks to hundreds of Christians here who have opened up their hearts and their homes to traveling Israelis, Jewish ministry in New Zealand has exploded!

This morning I had an unforgettable experience as I walked outside my hotel room very early and came face to face with stars and constellations (in reverse configuration!). All I wanted to do was shout Hallelujah!, but it was too early so I restrained myself. I had what I can only describe as a “King David moment” as all I could think of was the Psalmist’s description of what he saw in the night sky above 
Israel reflected in Psalm 8.

David declared, 

O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! (Psalm 8:1)

And, dear friend, all you have to do is to take one look at the pristine array of stars filling the night sky rising high above the mountains of the South 
Island in New Zealand and you would want to do the same!

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The Cup of Judgment: The Second Cup of the Passover Seder

These days, no one likes to talk about the judgement of the Lord. Yet, it is a biblical truth that all people, both Jew and Gentile, are under God’s judgement unless they accept salvation, that is, substitutionary atonement, through Jesus the Messiah (Romans 5:9, 1 Cor. 15:1-5, John 14:6). There are teachings out there that say Jewish people do not need Jesus to be made right with God—but this is against the very Gospel itself. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me.” Even in the story of Passover itself—the children of Israel could not rest on their status as Israelites. They had to respond to the method that God chose—the slaying of the Passover lamb—to be spared from the 10th plague of the slaying of the firstborn. In the same way, until the Jewish people respond to Jesus, the way of eternal salvation, Jewish people are still under God’s judgment. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Let us have a sense of urgency as we share with our Jewish friends and family, knowing that just as the children of Israel escaped Egypt in haste, so is our time on earth fleeting – each moment is precious. I encourage you to share Jesus with your Jewish friend or family member and perhaps even invite him or her to a Chosen People Ministries Passover banquet near you!

In Messiah,

Mitch

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The Cup of Sanctification: The First Cup of the Passover Seder

The first cup is the cup of sanctification. Four cups of wine are poured during the course of the Seder. When drinking the cup of sanctification we recite, “I will bring you out from Egypt.” Isn’t the Lord wonderful? Think about it, the children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. Their tears were bitter! They started out their time as dignified guests but with time and regime change, they became slaves. The yoke of slavery was burdensome and heavy. During Passover, we remember how God brought the children of Israel out from slavery and made us into a great nation with a name and a great purpose.  You see, Israel always had a purpose and calling—to be light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 49:6, Acts 13:47) and to bring Messiah Jesus into the world! Without the Jewish people, without Passover, we would not have the Messiah—what a humbling thought!

When drinking the cup of sanctification, we remember God bringing Israel out of slavery and the miracle that the Messiah came through the line of David. We also earnestly pray for the many Jewish people who are still in spiritual slavery, who have yet to embrace Jesus, their very own Messiah.

Your brother,

Mitch

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Understanding the Significance of Purim

Jewish people around the globe will celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim for two days beginning Saturday evening March 11 and concluding Sunday evening March 12.

This is one of my favorite holidays as it focuses on God’s faithfulness and the preservation of the Jewish people during a difficult and dark season.

The original story of the Purim holiday, found in the Book of Esther, describes the ways in which Queen Esther and her “smart-as-a-fox” uncle, Mordecai, outwitted the evil Haman and shifted the balance of Persian power, enabling the Jewish people to survive an attempt to destroy them.

Purim is a joyous festival and loved by young and old. We put on plays, children dress up as Esther, Mordecai, and even Haman, and we eat what is called “hamantaschen,” a delicious cookie filled with fruit and supposedly shaped like either Haman’s hat or ears!

An Expression of Hope

Along with these joyous expressions of deliverance and hope, the message of accountability for how Israel and the Jewish people are treated should be sobering to us all.

I believe the most stunning and bone-chilling line in the inspired story is when the fate of evil Haman, who had tried desperately to destroy the Jewish people, is described.

Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who were before the king said, “Behold indeed, the gallows standing at Haman’s house fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai who spoke good on behalf of the king!” And the king said, “Hang him on it.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided. (Esther 7:9-10)

Haman dies on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai. This is an epic end to the life of a man who had made himself an enemy of God by becoming an enemy of the Jewish people.

This is a timeless principle attached to a covenant that has never been rescinded or changed (Genesis 12:1-3)! When individuals or nations curse the Jewish people, it is implied that they could be cursed with similar judgments brought upon the children of Israel for their disobedience (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28).

I am not suggesting that judgment will fall upon those who disagree with Israel’s leaders over an aspect of policy. This is expected and since Israel is a democratic nation, dissent is woven into the very fabric of the modern state.

I am referring to something deeper. We are expected to have a fundamental respect and love for Israel and the Jewish people. Perhaps the Apostle Paul expressed the rationale for this heartfelt attitude when he wrote,

From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:28-29)

This means we must reject the idea that God no longer has a plan for His chosen people, and practically speaking we must reject any suggestion that the Jewish people do not have a biblical right to the Land of Israel. As the spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham, we cannot affirm one part of our inheritance while denying another.

Purim Today 

We must also oppose any hint of antisemitism, which is making an unfortunate comeback in our present day. In fact, the Jewish people are still threatened by Persia — as in the story of Esther:

Iran is the new face of ancient Persia. Unfortunately, the threats to Israel and the Jewish people do not end with Iran: almost every fundamentalist and radical Islamic movement in the world today, from ISIS to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, are intent on seeking the destruction of the state of Israel and the Jewish people.

The potential danger to the Jewish community and Israel extends to the West as countries like France, England, and even the United States are also afflicted by the rise of a new grass-roots antisemitism that has Israel in its crosshairs.

I do see some immediate hope for the future as the European Parliament finally produced a statement condemning modern day Iranian antisemitism. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, 

With 590 in favor, 67 against and 36 abstentions, lawmakers at a plenary in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday overwhelmingly backed the amendment, put forward by Dutch Liberal parliamentarian Marietje Schaake, that the house “Strongly condemns the Iranian regime’s repeated calls for the destruction of Israel and the regime’s policy of denying the Holocaust.”

European Jewish Congress President, Dr. Moshe Kantor, expressed great enthusiasm over the statement saying:

“We welcome this amendment, as it is essential to couple Iran’s extremism, Holocaust denial and call for genocide with its nuclear program and relations with the international community. It is vital that Iran is pressured to improve its human rights record and belligerency towards Israel and the region before the European Union resets its relations with the Islamic Republic.”

We live in perilous times and yet we also live in times of great opportunity. Jesus told us what to do in a world that is far from its Creator and in need of redemption. He calls us to be a light to the nations beginning with the Jew first and also to the Gentile (Romans 1:16). 

God Is Working Among Jewish People Today

Thanks to the love and compassion partners like you have for Jewish people everywhere, we are seeing God’s Spirit at work. With your help:

  • We are reaching out to elderly Holocaust survivors.
  • We are engaging secular Israelis through our online campaigns.
  • We are touching the lives of young adults and families through our new Tel Aviv Messianic Center.
  • We sponsor trips to India, New Zealand, and Latin America where Israelis are traveling. We meet them with love and the Gospel message!
  • We are planting Messianic congregations.
  • We are working on campuses, teaching Bible studies, and much more through our Brooklyn Center in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn, and in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston, where there are large Jewish communities.
  • We are now in 18 countries and 25 cities in North America and we are officially 123 years old as a ministry. I know…we do not look that old!

Again, we live in perilous and difficult times…just like the days of Queen Esther and Mordecai. But, we serve an all-powerful God who gives us a message of forgiveness and hope for His ancient people. Thank you for helping to share it with Jewish people today!

May God bless you for caring, and for your prayers and support.

Mitch

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Messianic Worship and Congregations

What goes on in Messianic Jewish worship? And why is it important?

Messianic congregations are not new — there were hundreds of these congregations in Europe prior to the Holocaust! Sadly, they were destroyed along with the Jewish communities they served.

Most of the missions to the Jewish people operating in Europe at that time created special congregations for the Jewish people who came to faith in the Messiah Jesus. In fact, we have been planting Messianic congregations for all of our 123 years of ministry!

History 

  • Chosen People Ministries was founded by Rabbi Leopold Cohn, who came to faith on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1892. He established our ministry in Brooklyn in 1894.
  • Rabbi Cohn reached out to the Jewish people at that time in a variety of ways, as most of those he reached were new Jewish immigrants to the United States, like himself.
  • He started food distribution centers, citizenship training, English-as-a-second-language instruction, a free medical clinic, and of course, began preaching the Gospel in parks, public areas, and through weekly and holiday services.
  • Rabbi Cohn understood that it would be best for Jewish believers to worship on Friday night and Saturday as this would cause the least degree of cultural disruption for Jewish seekers and for new Jewish believers in Jesus.

Many Messianic Jews continue to worship on Friday night and Saturday at this present time.

The 150-plus Messianic congregations in Israel, where there has been tremendous growth of new congregations over the last two decades, all worship on Saturday!

(Sunday is a work day in Israel. Congregations that worship on Sunday are primarily established for non-Jews who live in the Holy Land.)

Of course, it is important for Messianic Jews to be part of a local church or Messianic congregation — just as it is important for all believers to be part of a faith community.

We also believe it is important for Jewish believers to maintain their Jewish identities in the Messiah, as God made us who we are and has planned and promised a future for the Jewish people.

The Apostle Paul would agree. He wrote in Romans 11:1, “I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.”

Jewish Identity and Messianic Congregations

Why is this so critical?

Consider: The number one reason Jewish people do not want to follow the Messiah Jesus is because it is assumed that when a Jewish person professes faith in Jesus, they are rejecting their Jewishness and committing ethnic suicide! This is the perception among the vast majority of Jewish people. And nothing could be further from the truth!

  • We want to remove this very obstacle from Jewish people as our Jewish people consider the claims of the Messiah.
  • We also believe it is healthy for Jewish people to understand that based upon the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 12:1-3) the Jewish people continue to have a unique role in this world.
  • When you read through the Epistles, the Apostle Paul speaks about the unity of Jews and Gentiles, and so it is important for Jewish people to maintain their identity, as this is part of our witness of unity in the Messiah.
  • Unity is not a miracle when everyone is the same (Galatians 3:28).
  • While not every Messianic Jew is best served in a Messianic Jewish congregation, we find many Jewish believers in the Messiah Jesus prefer it.
  • And it is a wonderful corporate testimony to other Jewish people. 

What is Unique About a Messianic Congregation?

Some people have asked, “What is the difference between a local evangelical church and a Messianic congregation?” This is a good question!

  • Let me say from the start that Messianic Jews believe the same core doctrines as evangelical Christians.
  • The difference is not doctrinal and, of course, Messianic Jews all believe that the only way to receive salvation is through accepting Jesus as our atonement for sin.
  • His incarnation, resurrection and soon return are doctrines cherished by all Messianic Jews I know and especially those associated with Chosen People Ministries.

So what makes a Messianic congregation unique? Simply, we express our faith in Jesus the Messiah in a more “Jewish” way. We have already established that these congregations most often meet on Friday night or Saturday morning. This is a testimony in itself.

When Jewish people ask me what day I worship, they expect me to say “Sunday,” and then they conclude that I have “converted” and am no longer Jewish.

But if, when they ask me, I say we worship on Friday night or Saturday morning, then they are puzzled and do not understand why I worship on Saturday.  This often provides an opening to explain about Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. “Wait,” they say, “I thought you were Christian?”

I usually respond with, “Well, if by Christian you mean a follower of the Jewish Messiah, then absolutely yes…you can call me a Christian. But, if by naming me a Christian you mean that I am no longer Jewish, then you are wrong…I am still Jewish, but believe that Jesus is my promised Messiah.”

There are other differences, too:

Most Messianic congregations celebrate the Jewish holidays as fulfilled in the Messiah Jesus. This would include:

  • Passover (and Feast of Unleavened Bread),
  • First Fruits,
  • Pentecost (Shavuot),
  • New Year (Rosh Hashanah),
  • the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur),
  • and Tabernacles (Sukkot).

I believe that the festivals are road maps to redemption leading us to the person of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. Messianic congregations can provide these special ministries as they schedule congregational life around the Jewish calendar, which provides many opportunities for the Jewish family and friends of Messianic Jews to come and see the “Jewishness” of Jesus rather than simply hear about it!

You only need to attend a Messianic congregation on a Jewish holiday, wedding, or even a funeral service, to see how Jewish non-believers respond to what occurs in the service. The testimony is profound.

Also the music in a Messianic service has a more “Jewish style.” Some aspects of the service are in Hebrew, and the order of service is more like a combination of a church and a synagogue service. There is a heavy emphasis on reading the Bible, just as there is in a synagogue, and a sermon is preached—usually longer than the brief 15-minute sermon preached by the average rabbi.

The fellowship afterwards is similar, but you can expect more bagels!

The Witness of a Messianic Congregation

Just imagine what it would be like to bring your friend or relative to a Chosen People Ministries’ Messianic congregation to enjoy a Jewish holiday event! We believe that hearing the message of the Gospel in a Jewish setting adds to the clarity and power of our witness.

Chosen People Ministries serves many Jewish believers who regularly attend local churches but need the additional Messianic Jewish fellowship and training. This is also one of the reasons we provide camping programs, retreats, and trips to Israel for young adults, and more. We want to help strengthen the identity and testimony of Jewish believers in Messianic congregations and also those who are part of local churches.

 

Let me invite you to experience a Messianic worship service yourself, by visiting one of our Chosen People Ministries’ Messianic congregations.

 

Thank you for your understanding, love and support.

Dr. Mitch Glaser
President of Chosen People Ministries

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