On Jewish Evangelism Rabbi Michael Weiner
Jewish people need Yeshua! Why is that statement so hard to understand? Yeshua said as much. We can learn much from the episode of the Canaanite woman who came to Yeshua seeking healing for her daughter, who was “severely tormented by a demon.” In the middle of their discussion, Yeshua makes this statement … Matthew 15:24 But He responded, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” There it is … Yeshua came for the salvation of Israel. Only after His ascension did non-Jews have inclusion in the salvation promised to Israel, and that required Peter’s vision of Acts 10.
Paul was the evangelist for the Gentiles, yet he had a heart for his own people. Look how he starts the three chapters of his treatise on the value of Jewish people in the kingdom of God.
Romans 9:1-4a I tell the truth in Messiah – I do not lie, my conscience assuring me in the Ruach ha-Kodesh – that my sorrow is great and the anguish in my heart unending. For I would pray that I myself were cursed, banished from Messiah for the sake of my people – my own flesh and blood, who are Israelites.
Romans 10:1-2 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for Israel is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have zeal for God – but not based on knowledge.
Romans 11:1-2a I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He knew beforehand.
Today, we are living in a world in which many of Yeshua’s followers love Jewish people “just as they are,” without Yeshua. They even go so far as to agree with their Jewish friends that Messianic Jews are not Jews at all. Sadly yet predominantly, those Gentiles who have a heart for Jewish evangelism want to see Jews turned into Christians. Nothing would make these people happier than to have their Jewish friends join their Church. The world really is upside-down in many ways.
The universal call on the entire body of believers is to evangelize the world. And, when I say “evangelize,” I mean, “disciple to maturity,” not just a salvation experience. New believers need to be planted in a community so they can grow in their new faith. The ideal for Jewish people is to be planted in a Messianic Jewish community. Let me tell you why. Jewish people in the body of Messiah need to be identifiably and recognizably Jewish. This is difficult in a church, but not impossible. However; the next generation will definitely not know their Jewish heritage. Today there are (by some estimates) 10 times more Jewish people in churches than in Messianic synagogues.
The salvation experience is only the first step in the great commission. Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Ruach ha-Kodesh, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. And remember! I am with you always, even to the end of the age. “All nations” should include Jewish people.
Today, I’ve got more questions than answers. So, how do we get from here (where we are) to there (where we want to be)? How do we change the culture of the body of believers from loving Jewish people just as they are, to loving Jewish people just as they are, while challenging them to receive Yeshua (the Jewish Messiah), as their personal Lord and Savior? Is there a “best practices” community that is getting this right?
It seems that both Jewish and non-Jewish culture need to change. The Jewish culture is significantly entrenched in the idea that Jewish people must reject Yeshua. The large part of Church culture is to love Jewish people without calling on them to embrace the Jewish Messiah. I’m pursuing the answers. When I find them, I’ll share them with you. The mission is nothing less than the great commission. I’m going to be discussing these question with Messianic leaders I know over the next weeks and months. I’ll let you know how it goes.