I know, I know! I’m stating the obvious! Or perhaps that’s a revelation to you. Well, whatever your response to that statement, know that my views about that statement have changed dramatically in my life. At one point it was completely irrelevant. Today, that statement plays a major role in who I am as human being.
Growing up in a Reform Jewish home in St. Pete, FL, I attended synagogue, and at age 13 went through Bar-Mitzvah. If you’re wondering, Bar Mitzvah means “son of the commandment” and is a ceremonial rite of passage when a Jewish boy becomes a man. Though we were culturally and socially very connected to the Jewish community, we were not a particularly religious household.
I considered myself a spiritual person growing up. I believed in God and had some sense that he knew me. In 1986, though I embraced neither my Judaism nor any other religion, I began examining different philosophies and world religions for answers to life’s biggest questions.
My earliest memories of people sharing Jesus with me go back to my college years. But, I consistently rejected any conversation about Jesus and turned down invites to church, bible studies or Christian concerts.
As I searched for something I could believe in, something that would fill a void I felt in my life, I found myself drawn to Christianity and the person of Jesus, but I wrestled. It really wasn’t until a stranger on a plane challenged me to ask the God of Israel if Jesus is the Messiah, that I cried out to God as I knew Him to show me the truth about Jesus.
He did, and in December 1987 I trusted in Jesus. I believed for the first time that He died for my sins and rose again from the dead so that I could be forgiven. Knowing Messiah was and is the greatest thing that’s ever happened in my life, but it’s not been easy being a Jew for Jesus.
Something profound occurred in my life as a new Christian. I made a discovery that was quite astonishing to me at the time. As I began studying the New Testament, I learned about the Jewishness of Jesus. I also learned all the writers of the New Testament were Jewish with the possible exception of Luke. And Luke was a doctor, so who knows?! I thought to myself, “Christianity is Jewish!”
In one sense the gospel narrative is simply a Jewish debate among Jewish people about the true identity of a Jewish man, Jesus. And the story takes place in Israel. What could be more Jewish than that?