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If Jesus is our Messiah, then why do we Jews find it difficult to believe?

© Life from the Dead, Avi Snyder, 2021

So many people mistakenly assume that being Jewish means you don’t believe in Jesus.  And yet historically, we know that all of the first thousands and thousands of followers of Jesus were His fellow Jews.  They called Him by His Hebrew name, Yeshua, and they believed that He was the Messiah who died for our sins and rose from the dead, as prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures. 

But if Yeshua is that promised Messiah, then why is it so difficult for many of us Jews to believe and follow Him today?  There are a number of reasons.  Here are just two of the most prominent.

The tragic conflict between the Church and the Synagogue. 

Once the number of non-Jewish believers in Jesus surpassed the number of His own countrymen who believed, a tragic trend began to take place – the church lost its connection to its Jewish roots.  A strong wedged developed between Gentles who believed in Jesus and Jewish people who rejected Yeshua’s messianic claims.  Tragically, that rift too often resulted in accusations and anti-Semitic acts against the Jewish people.  In the eyes of the church, we Jews were the people whom God now rejected, while in the eyes of us Jews, Jesus became the God of the Gentiles, and therefore, someone foreign, forbidden, and dangerous to us Jews. 

The acts of persecution that we Jews endured over the centuries may have been committed by people who claimed to be Christians, but their actions stood in stark contrast to the love, teachings and actions of the Messiah Jesus Himself.  Yeshua wept over Jerusalem when said, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Matthew 23:37).

The fear of rejection. 

As the rift between “Christian” and “Jew” deepened, the fear of rejection by our fellow Jews became a paramount factor, keeping many of us Jews from considering His claims.  So often, a strong desire to know precisely who Jesus is resided in our hearts.  But we knew that if we looked at the matter in an unbiased way, we ran the risk of being misunderstood and rejected by many of our own.

These two factors – the conflict between the Church and the Synagogue, and fear of rejection by our fellow Jews – kept many of us Jews from considering Yeshua’s claims.

Profiles of courage. 

And yet, throughout special times of history, throngs of Jewish people have given their hearts to the Messiah Jesus.  In fact, such a wave of messianic faith occurred in Hungary and Poland during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  That flourishing produced Jewish giants of the Christian faith – people like Moses Gitlin, Alfred Edersheim, Jakov Jocz, Rachmiel Frydland, and the former chief Rabbi of Budapest, Isaak Lichtenstein.

The flourishing continues to this day.  There may even be more Messianic Jews or Jewish believers in Jesus than ever before.  Not only has the number of us Jewish followers of Yeshua risen dramatically in recent decades, but we worship side-by-side with our non-Jewish “family” of faith, just as it was always meant to be.  The Apostle Paul, a Jewish man originally from the city of Tarsus, wrote to the Gentile Christians in the city of Ephesus and said, “He [Jesus] Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.”

So what about you? 

Perhaps you’re Jewish and have always assumed, like so many of us, that whoever Jesus is, He’s just not an option for us Jews.  Would you be willing to consider with an open mind whether Yeshua just might be the very Messiah promised to us throughout the writings of Moses and the prophets?  Seven hundred years before Yeshua walked the earth, the prophet Isaiah described the coming Messiah as the one who “was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgressions of my people,” and the one who “bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:8, 12).

Or perhaps you’re one of the many Polish people who’ve only recently discovered that you’re Jewish, and you’d like to know more.  Can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus?  Well, if Jesus is the Messiah, then believing in Him is the most Jewish step that you can take.  And even if you’re not Jewish, giving your life to Jesus is the most important step that a person can ever take.  After all, as God said to the Messiah in the book of Isaiah “I will also make You a light to the Gentiles, so that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6)

Whoever you are we’re grateful that you’ve read this short article, and we’d like to know what you think.

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