Restoring the Jewishness of Jesus – Rediscovering Our Hebrew Lord
“Heaven must receive Him until the time comes for God to restore everything.” Acts 3:21
“The sands of time have hidden many an earthly treasure but none so valued, and of paramount importance, as the unearthing of the covered-up negligence and irrelevant lack of importance, by the Church, of the Jewishness of Jesus to our faith.” -Sharon Sanders-
Among the sand dunes of history formed by forces of powerful winds of doctrine, is an imprint which the Messiah of Israel left on the world. Truth demands the re-discovery of His roots, and the story of His earthly life which should be given back to the world to remember Him for who He was and forever shall be: a Jew!
It is the responsibility of those who see Him as He is from the Scriptures, to share the centrality of His connection to Israel during the “restoration of all things.” (Acts 3:21) The real Jesus will bring into the light His true identity as He returns home to His People. What do I mean? Anyone can change a man’s name but not his birth certificate. In nearly every nation when a child is born, they are registered as to their nationality. Also census logbook (also long ago buried in the sands of time) would have recorded the time and date of Jesus’ birth. The truth about Yeshua (Jesus) and His Jewishness is not irrelevant nor unimportant as portrayed by the Church throughout the centuries. Whitewashing His ethnic background, is nothing short of deception which has tarnished the credibility of Christianity in the Jewish world.
Christian history shrouded Jesus from His own people. Early portraits camouflaged His manhood and appearance.“The oldest known portrait of Jesus was found in Syria and dated to about 235. He was already being depicted as a beardless man, dressed in the style of a philosopher, with close-cropped hair and wearing a tunic and pallium (a papal ecclesiastical church vestment of the Roman Catholic church such as a Pope would wear.” (Wikipedia.org) His actual outer garment would have been a seamless robe, similar to the garments worn by a High Priest in ancient Israel.
Christians must internalize that Jesus is a Jew. Nothing will ever change that truth! Whether the cover-up was an actual attempt at burying the truth, or just an embarrassing ignorance, the evidence has been hidden from millions while submerged as if in a sandy covered burial tomb. Portrayed by the historical Church as insignificant today, Jesus’ Jewishness is “hard to understand” in some circles.
A Minor Point?
There is no doubt that anti-Semitic Church fathers suppressed what they felt to be a minor point in the Christian faith. They succeeded in causing a monumental error, as a result of wrong judgment. It was Christendom separating from its mother faith which brought about a parting of the ways between Judaism and Christianity which resulted in a watering down of the Lord’s role as the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world. “Christians stand between Christ and the Jews concealing the Savior’s true image from them”. (Nikolai Berdyaev) The sad Christian history of the distorted depiction of Jesus on the dockets of time show that the list of qualifications that should have been emphasized to prove that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, as prophesized in the Jewish Scriptures, was either not important to Church fathers or was considered a minor point.
How could this have happened when Scripture clearly shows that Jesus was born into a Jewish world? (Matthew 1:1-25). After the passing of the first Disciples, who were Jewish, Jesus began to be seen by Gentiles as a gentile God with blonde hair and blue eyes. His inner circle of Jews no longer on the earth, and the manhood of Yeshua was quickly hushed up and covered over with time. Thus, a portrayal of a “new” Jesus with little or no connection to the Jews was introduced to the world.
Christianity needs to be reminded that it was a Jewish world who birthed, raised, and honored Him with multitudes following Him when He was on earth. It was the Jewish people who placed their garments on the donkey under Him, signifying they were accepting His Authority and submitting to it. It was Jewish people who lay palm branches in a royal procession and accompanied Him into Jerusalem—are these minor points also?
“I am a Jew!”
It makes me very sad that the Gentiles to whom God opened the way of salvation through Jesus, to a certain extent slapped the Jewish people in the face and said “We will take your blessings, your Bible and your Jesus, but we don’t want you!” Watching from a distance, the Jewish Jesus became Jesus the “man of many faces.” In some lands, Jesus is portrayed as Chinese, Arayan, African and other nationalities when we are reminded several times in the Word of God about His Jewishness. (Matthew 1:1; 9:27; Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 5:5; 22:16). Nevertheless, many Christians who read the Bible, just do not want to believe what it says and in shock still say “My Jesus a Jew? Never!”
On Christmas Day, 2019, the Palestinian Authority held a Christmas party in Birzeit, north of Ramallah, during which time Jesus was presented and praised as a Palestinian guerilla fighter” (Palestinian Television News, December 2019). One writer stated “if Jesus was alive today, he’d be labelled a Jewish settler and barred from Bethlehem.” A New Zealand lawmaker recently stated that Jesus’ mother was a “Palestinian refugee.” Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna not long ago blurted out that “Jesus was born in Palestine, not Paris, Washington or anywhere else. Jesus was Palestinian.” Again, these are attempts to erase any Jewish connection to the Jewish people which furthers the cause of anti-Semitism.
It is very interesting that Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair, did not hesitate to affirm the Jewishness of Jesus when Islamic activist Linda Sarsour also started a Twitter storm claiming “Jesus was a Palestinian from Nazareth and is described in the Quran as being brown and copper skinned with wooly hair.” A sharp response came. The young Netanyahu tweeted back, saying “Are you stupid? On the cross above Jesus’ head was the sign ‘INRI’ – ‘Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm’ which means in Latin – Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews!” Yes, “according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3) Jesus came from the Jewish tribe of Judah.
Miriam, His mother was a Jewess. Born under the Law (Galations 4:4), His body was marked like that of all Jewish sons, fathers and husbands as He was circumcised the eighth day, (Romans 15:8). He spoke Hebrew and Aramaic, both Semitic languages. His Disciples were all Jews. The Torah was preached in the synagogues and Jesus stood up to read about Himself from the scrolls. He taught Torah all His Life and “wore on His garments the fringes of Judaism ordered by the Law.” (Jacob Jocz, “The Jewish People and Jesus Christ”). The Godly Jew, Simeon, said “Now my eyes have seen thy salvation.” (Luke 2:30). I know I am arguing in favor of something that is unpopular in the Church today…but it is time that truth raise its voice. Traditional teachings unfortunately can become so ingrained that many will not think for themselves nor allow the Bible to challenge their assumptions.
The Divine Privilege of Kings is the right to rule a Kingdom. Jesus will return to earth to rule His Father’s Kingdom from Israel’s eternal capital – Jerusalem. We must confront our thinking to accept Him for who He really is as He will not be establishing a worldwide Christian church on the Temple Mount. Should some of us resist reality, it could develop into following “another Jesus” snare about which everyone is warned in the New Testament. (2 Corinthians 11:4).
It is interesting that a number of prominent Rabbis stated recently “…Jesus strengthened the Torah of Moses majestically…and not one of our sages spoke out more emphatically concerning the immutability of the Torah.” (Orthodox Rabbinic statement, December, 2015). Jules Isaac author of the compelling book “Jesus and Israel” wrote “there is no evidence whatsoever that Jesus ever left His people.” The Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as the awaited Messiah of Israel. As Joseph was sold to gentiles in Egypt, the day came for a reunion with his brothers and family and so it will be with Jesus. In this time of the “restoration of all things” a great interest in Israel includes studying about Jesus. Paying closer attention are Israeli academics, artists, writers and religious scholars showing more positiveness than ever before.
As Joseph’s personal identity was hidden for a long time, so it has been with Jesus. “We are witnessing the undoing of 2,000 years of Jewish rejection and animosity towards Jesus, a miracle by any estimation.” (David Lazarus, Israel Today). Think about His Return. Would He arrive home as a non-Jewish Messiah or will He be both the King of the Jews and the Nations? I believe everyone at that time will see the real Jesus. “…and we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2, Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
The Lord is opening many eyes across this planet to Jesus, “…not as founder of the Christian Church, the first Christian or the first Catholic…in Britain He may quite possibly albeit subconsciously be seen as the first Anglican…certainly, many people perceive Jesus as a gentile, and blue-eyed English churchman…the majority of our western Christian culture casts Jesus into a non-Jewish mold. To the extent this is done, believers fail to understand Him and His Teachings…” (Dwight Pryor).
“If one attempts to de-Judaize Jesus by making Him into some sort of all-purpose human being, then one loses the Jesus of history…this is not to say that saving faith may be any the less real, but that our understanding of His Teachings will be weakened or distorted—and this can affect our theology…and the way we present Him to today’s world…in conclusion, an appreciation of the Jewishness of Jesus…is essential if we are to fully understand His claims for Himself, and the full impact of His Message.” (Jill Levin)
Jesus considered the Jewish Scriptures (in scroll form at that time) to be His source of truth which always centered around the God of Israel. He recited the Jewish proclamation “Hear O Israel.” (Mark 12:28-30). What Christians term the “Old” Testament is the only authoritative oracles from which Jesus quoted. If the Church looks down on the Jewish faith, they are actually being condescending and arrogant.
Scripture Locks in His Identity
Gentiles who believe in Jesus actually join (like Ruth) the community (or Commonwealth) of Israel. They do not replace them. “There is one body…one Lord, one faith…”. (Ephesians 4:4-5) Through our faith in Him, gentiles are no longer aliens to the Kingdom (Commonwealth) or strangers to the Covenant(s). (Ephesians 2:12). Being grafted in to Israel’s cultivated olive tree, which cultivation came from learning Torah, we reconnect to the “missing link” in our faith and strengthen our faith in Jesus.
Yeshua did not become a gentile by translating His Name to Jesus. Some of the disciples had Greek names but they remained Jewish. Pat Robertson, Founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network recently proclaimed on television “My boss is a Jew!” Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries remarked “God’s blueprint for the restoration of Israel is the most referred to theme in the Bible…with that restoration we must not make Jesus into our image.”
I emphasize once more, one can change a man’s name, but not his ethnicity nor nationality. Jesus’ own identification with His Brethren, was “we Jews” (John 4:22) His desire to bring the Kingdom to earth was a great part of His Gospel Message. He would turn and say to His Followers, “Haven’t you read?…It is written…What did Moses say?” He was the Living Torah and was given a Jewish burial, laid in a Jewish tomb provided by a Jewish member of the Council (the Sanhedrin) who was a secret believer and did not take part in the trial.
What do we learn here? We need to ponder more on His Manhood. “His apostles and Jewish disciples came to know Yeshua first as a man, and only later as the risen Savior, the “Son of the Living God.” (Dwight Pryor) The Scriptures secure His Identity. The sages of Israel bequeathed to Him a rich legacy of learning, they illuminated the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings…He was the Torah Incarnate…He is our Rabbi and Lord as well as Savior.
Loving Him for Who He is
As we grow in the Imitatio Dei, Latin, for imitating God’s character and actions, and as we are transformed into His image and likeness (not Him to our likeness) we also will grow in His knowledge and grace. Will the real Jesus stand? Christian history is anchored in the person of Jesus Christ; however, Jules Isaac says “The Christ of the Church…has often nothing in common with the Great Nazarene.” Jesus disagreed with the way the religious authorities added to the Words of God given at Mt. Sinai but His Jewish upbringing was reflected in the washing of hands, paying the shekel and faithfully observing the Commandments of God. He remained a Jew to His last breath. Yes, truly the inclusion of the gentiles into the Commonwealth of Israel is one thing, but the inclusion of the gentiles at the expense of the Jews is another.
Without a doubt, the Church’s Hall of Shame displays a long corridor of centuries of stumbling blocks which it laid before the Jewish people on the road to Zion (spiritual pride, arrogance, apathy, indifference, hatred) to name a few. A walk through those historical hallways might make us cringe because former leaders tore out the anti-Semitic pages from our history books but every Jewish person knows well the transgressions committed against them.
Visualize for a moment, a Replacement Theologian standing at heaven’s doors being met by twenty-four elders (with Jewish faces), trying to enter heavenly gates (with the names of twelve tribes of Israel written above them). (Revelation 21:12) Picture a Replacement Theology teacher at the Gates of Heaven and Peter and Paul wearing a Jewish prayer shawl, perceiving Yeshua in His Jewishness and standing totally in shock thinking “Where am I?” What a dreadful thought. “The Church is being transported back, beyond Wittenberg and Geneva, Rome and Athens, all the way to Jerusalem, to recover the foundations of our faith.” (Dwight Pryor, 2010)
Indeed, the sands of time did cover up the truth of Jesus’ nationhood buried beneath them for centuries, but the imprint which Messiah Jesus left on this world demands that He be given back to the world remembering Him and knowing Him for who He was, is and forever shall be: a Jew!
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