Who is Yeshua, and why do you think he’s the Messiah?
The idea of a Messiah and a Messianic Age has been part of Jewish thought and prayer for millennia, going back to the Hebrew prophets themselves. Isaiah 53, one of the most famous—and controversial—passages in the Tanakh, describes the Servant of the Lord who suffers and dies to bear the sins of God’s people, Israel. Centuries later a well-known story in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 98a) expands on Isaiah 53 to picture the Messiah as sitting among the lepers awaiting his call to redemption. The next page in the Talmud says one of the names of Messiah is “‘the leper scholar,’ as it is written, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God, and afflicted” [Is. 53:4].
This is just one example of many biblical prophecies fulfilled in the life of Yeshua of Nazareth—descendant of David, born in Bethlehem, healer and proclaimer of freedom and forgiveness, who was rejected by both religious and political authorities, executed, and raised up from the dead. The historical evidence for the resurrection of Yeshua continues to stand today, so much so that Orthodox Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide wrote this in his book The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective.
Thus, according to my opinion, the resurrection belongs to the category of the truly real and effective occurrences, for without a fact of history there is no act of true faith. A fact which indeed is withheld from objective science, photography, and a conceptual proof, but not from the believing scrutiny of history which more frequently leads to deeper insights. (Augsburg Fortress Publishing House, 1982, p. 93.)
In addition to such biblical and historical evidence, many Jewish people report an undeniable, life-changing encounter with God through Yeshua, an encounter that made their Jewish identity stronger than ever.
ALL Jews agree that you CAN'T believe in Jesus and still be Jewish ...
Actually the 2013 “Portrait of Jewish Americans” by the Pew Research Center found that 34% of American Jews think that you can believe in Jesus and still be Jewish. And prominent Jewish scholars like Dan Cohn-Sherbok, and Michael Wyschogrod, z”l, agree.
Jesus was a Jew. In past centuries, people often reacted to Jesus’ Jewishness as an embarrassment, a detail that was best overlooked, both within the Christian world and the Jewish world. Today, all that is changing. Indeed, his Hebrew name, Yeshua, is becoming widely known even within Christian churches. A Jewish reclamation of Jesus has been in process now for years, and many Jewish people who believe in Yeshua today find their Jewish identity and loyalty to be strengthened, rather than diminished, by their faith in him.
Why are you still living under the Law? Didn’t Yeshua abolish all of that stuff?
The New Testament portrays Jesus as an observant and loyal Jew. He said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets! I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. Amen, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or serif shall ever pass away from the Torah until all things come to pass” (Matt. 5:17–18, TLV). The book of Acts portrays Yeshua’s Jewish followers as worshiping in the Temple and maintaining their Torah-based way of life (Acts 2:46–3:1, 21:20–24).
The Tanakh (“Old Testament”) teaches that God has made an “everlasting covenant” with the Jewish people, a covenant “for all generations” that will be renewed.
But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days
—it is a declaration of Adonai—
I will put My Torah within them.
Yes, I will write it on their heart.
I will be their God
and they will be My people. (Jer 31:24)
The New Testament pictures Yeshua as bringing this New Covenant, with its spirit-empowered Torah, to the Jewish people. In the book of Acts the real conundrum is never, “can Jewish people stop following the Torah?” but “what do we do with all of these Gentiles?” In Acts 15, the Jewish leaders of the Yeshua-believing community meet to resolve that question. They never question the ongoing responsibility that Jewish followers of Yeshua have toward the Torah. Rather, they rule that the Gentiles don’t have to take on this full responsibility. This ruling has been distorted throughout history to mean that no Yeshua-followers keep Torah, but the Torah and its way of life remain the norm for Jewish followers of Yeshua.
You know, there’s a long history of Christian anti-Semitism.
Yes, we know. We recognize this problem, and we’re part of the solution.
The Holocaust and its aftermath, especially the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, was a profound wake-up call to Christians about the evil of their anti-Jewish attitudes and assumptions. This awareness has led to corporate repentance in many churches. For example, in 2000, John Paul II became the first Pope to visit Israel—in itself an act of apology. He visited Yad VaShem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, and prayed at the Western Wall, where he placed this prayer between its stones:
God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your name to the nations. We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer. And asking your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the covenant.
Messianic Jews are in a unique position to advance this sort of repentance in the Christian world. As fellow Yeshua-followers, we can appeal to Christians to renounce all forms of anti-Semitism, even ones that they may not be aware of. One example of this is so-called “Replacement Theology,” the idea that the Church is the “new Israel,” or that it replaces the Jewish people as God’s chosen. Another idea that we can counter is that anti-Zionism is acceptable in the Christian world. Messianic Jews can confront ideas like this from within the framework of Scripture, both Tanakh and New Testament, which we share with Christians. Also, by our loyalty both to Yeshua and to the Jewish people, we demonstrate the antidote to Christian anti-Semitism.
Why should my congregation join the Union?
The most important reason to join us is because you share the vision of a thriving Jewish people-movement for Messiah Yeshua, a movement fully loyal to Yeshua and fully loyal to the Jewish people. Congregations join the Union because they want to help advance this prophetic spiritual renewal among the Jewish people.
Local Messianic Jewish congregations are healthiest and most successful when they don’t try to go it alone, but participate in the wider Messianic Jewish community for accountability, shared vision, and resources. Union membership connects member congregations with: a low-cost and highly focused winter leadership conference; an experienced Rabbinic Counsel available for consultation, counseling, and specialized teaching; academic scholarships; internship grants; Messianic Jewish children’s curriculum; access to retirement programs, and more.
Finally congregations join the Union because together we are a powerful voice of advocacy for Israel, the Jewish people, and the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua.
For more reasons to join the Union, click here.