I love Jewish people and I want to tell you a story. – Years ago, I got an invitation.
The invitation was to the largest synagogue in California’s capital. The goal was for Jewish and Christian neighbors to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob together. The place was packed. I took my place in a synagogue that was full of anxious people. Some of the Jews present were Messianic, most were not. Most of the non-Jews attending understood Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah. There was tension in the air.
I distinctly remember three things about that night. FIRST, I remember the combined worship time, led by Jesus followers who love the Hebrew Bible. We sang songs directly from the TaNaKh. This “Davidic” style music was transfixing. Together we poured our hearts out to and for God.
SECONDLY I remember the speakers. Several rabbis commented on the historic nature of our gathering. They acknowledged our strained history and hopes for a better future. Then a theology professor spoke. He communicated that Christians repudiate the Holocaust. He said that Jesus is Jewish and that Christians are bound to love all people, especially the Jews. Then he shared that Jesus followers appreciate that God exists, communicates through science, conscience, history and the scriptures. He related that Christians are convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah. I was aghast. How could he say this in a packed synagogue? Would the drapes catch fire? A riot? I was mesmerized. But no one freaked out. No one walked out. This gentle scholar assured us that he was only reporting what Messianic people are convinced of by the Hebrew scriptures.
Now here is the last part of that night that I remember. FINALLY the notable gathering had ended. I felt exhausted. We were all seeking to gather our senses. I felt tears on my face. The women on my right – easily old enough to be my mother – was crying as well. I turned to her and spoke.
“Wow” I said. “This has been an emotional experience. I see that all of this has impacted you as well…” Then I asked, “May I ask you why this evening has touched your heart so deeply?” She did not speak to me. Instead she looked up into my face and simultaneously pulled up her sleeve, exposing her forearm. This dear Jewish woman revealed to me the tattoo – the numbers – that had been etched in her arm by the Nazis during her concentration camp experience. I could not respond in words. Our eyes locked and were held there together. What she told me, without using language, was that she was a Jewess who survived Germany’s national socialist death camps.
She had understood, during the Second World War, that the Nazi’s were “Christians”. She had believed that in the name of Christ (Messiah) the Germans had forced her into slavery; decimating her family and people – all in the name of “Jesus”. Then, that night, she experienced that millions of American Jesus followers (Jewish and Gentile) did not hate her or her family. In fact, we love her and her people. We hope to protect them. This awareness and expression of love changed her life – and mine – forever.
I will never forget that evening. I cannot escape the sight of the ink under her skin that numbered her as among those destined to die, for being Jewish. I pray now that she too remembers that moment. I hope that her grandchildren know that Christians love His people. We’re for them. We support their survival and thriving.
(DON’T MISS the One For Israel video below – and ALL of their videos) to get a feeling for what God is doing in Jewish communities today.)
Love to My Jewish Friends,