Why Should Christians Understand Judaism?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASure, Christianity has Jewish roots, but really, how much different can it be?

Well, a lot.

I’ve just finished a class about the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. When I first signed up, I had excellent reasons for doing so.

My husband manages an employee who is East Indian. She’s a lovely young woman who recently got married. As Bill listened to her chatter about the ins and outs of wedding planning from half a world away from the wedding location (India), he learned much about Hindu culture, about what was important to this young woman. He heard her heart about many different things. Hearing someone’s heart is a vital part of any relationship—even an manager/employee one. He’d never have understood her had he resisted learning about her culture. As a result, he grew to know her better.

Christianity is a relationship with Jesus. If Jesus is a Jew, and I want to know him more, I need to understand his culture. That was the idea I had in mind when I signed up for HaYesod (The Foundation).

By the end of the class, I had many more reasons to be grateful for the class and for encouraging others to take it or something similar.

In the last lesson, the teacher drew the class to a close by talking about the connection between the Bible and Israel. He kept referring to Israel as though Israel was what the Bible is all about. Not gonna lie. That kinda got my back up.

The Bible is about Jesus. He’s in the entire Bible from beginning to end. Every good Christian knows that.

But the idea wouldn’t leave me. Track with me for a moment.

From a novelist’s standpoint, the main character is the person who has the greatest character arc—the person who changes. By that definition, Israel is the only option. It certainly isn’t Jesus. As God incarnate, He is unchanging and unchangeable.

God creates the universe with people in mind—His people.

He moves in and out of the lives of people, directing them, saving them, preserving them.

He calls Israel (through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) as a nation and as His chosen people.

He covenants with them.

He gives them His standard for righteousness—the Torah.

He forgives them, punishes them, rescues them.

Jews understand all this.

Messianic Jews also understand that He came as a man, to save them. To rescue them once and for all. To pay the debt of sin (death) that they couldn’t pay and to provide a way for us to draw near to the Almighty.

He longs to have them accept Him and love Him as much as He loves them.

And finally, one day, He will come again and finish the job He began—to bring them to Him as a nation. To bring them back into the land He promised them so long ago. To reign over them in a perfect world where Satan is bound.

But Gentiles think in terms of individuals. Jews think in terms of community.

God didn’t call an individual Jew His. He called all of Israel His people.

Jesus saves us individually, but He calls us to be part of a people. It’s not about me—or even about me and Jesus. It’s about me and Israel and all the other people in all the other nations who follow Jesus. It’s about how we fulfill the purposes of God.

That’s a whole lot bigger than I imagined when I started out wanting to know Jesus better.


Come let us reason together—in the comments. J


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