When Ziva shared those amazing words with me—you are still a Jew!—it changed my life! This was a revelation to me. I am still Jewish? I am still part of the people of Israel? Of course this would have seemed a very strange revelation to the very first followers of Yeshua, whose Jewishness was never in question. They struggled with the question, Do Gentiles have to become Jewish in order to believe in Jesus? (Acts 10, 15), not their own Jewishness.
Ziva also told me of congregations of Jewish believers who met on the Jewish Sabbath and worshipped Yeshua. Again, I couldn’t believe my ears. Jewish Synagogues where they believe in Jesus? One year later when I walked into Beth Messiah Congregation in Rockville, Maryland, tears filled my eyes as I saw the largest number of Jewish believers I had ever seen worshipping the Messiah.
Peter, Paul and Mary? Jews?!
For a guy who grew up thinking Mary was Catholic, John was a Baptist, Peter was the first Pope and that the New Testament stories took place in Rome, I was stunned. I began to read the New Covenant for myself. The more I read it, the more astonished I became at how “Jewish” it was. This story didn’t take place in Rome; there is no mention of the Vatican or a Pope and the word Christian can only be found three times in the entire book! These people were not starting a new religion—they were Jews who believed they had found their Messiah.
Moreover, I discovered:
- Jesus’ Hebrew name is Yeshua, which means salvation.
- Mary was an Israelite called Miriam, a Jewish name, like the sister of Moses.
- John was a not Baptist, but a Jewish prophet in ranks of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah.
- Paul was actually a Jewish rabbi named Shaul.
- Peter was not a pope, but one of the greatest Messianic Jewish communicators in history.
In fact, I was shocked to discover that Gentiles didn’t even begin to believe in Yeshua until many years after He was raised from the dead or that virtually the entire early “Church” was Jewish!
The Litmus Test
I have litmus test on how to come to the right conclusion on controversial theological issues. I asked myself a simple question: If I was untainted by either view, and I was given a Bible and locked in a room… what conclusion would I come to? So let’s apply that test to the nature of the person of Jesus. If a Jewish person, unspoiled by the anti-Yeshua bias in modern Judaism, was locked in a room and given the gospel narratives to read (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), would they come out of that room concluding that Yeshua was a Gentile, anti-Semitic, or the father of a new religion apart from Judaism?
I contend not only would they not see Him in that light, but they would fall in love with Him! They would see Him as a hero who stood up to the religious establishment of His day (like Jeremiah and the other prophets) as well as the political rulers, and ultimately demonstrated His love in the greatest way possible. And that is why I wrote this book—to present the real Yeshua, a Jewish Man from Israel, to my people.
Part III “Gentiles Have Something to Learn About the Real Yeshua too!”
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