How Can You Say You’re Jewish and Believe in “Jesus”?

It is only because of “tradition” that we have been taught that Jews should not believe in “him”. One thing history has taught us, however, is that “groupthink” is not usually the best way to arrive at truth.  Yeshua was a Jew. Both His parents were Jews. His name at birth was given to Him as Yeshua (which means “salvation”). In English Yeshua is Joshua. “Jesus” is simply a transliteration from the Greek version of Yeshua: “Iesous”.  Yeshua was called “rabbi” by his followers, he kept kosher, observed shabbat, and taught from the Tanach.  Yeshua is Jewish through and through.

His twelve apostles were all Jewish, and remained Jews until their deaths. The early disciples were all Jews and, like the apostles, remained Jewish until their deaths. All of the writers of the New Testament (mistakenly called the “Christian Bible”) were Jewish men. The first hundreds of thousands of followers of Yeshua were all Jewish. In the first century, there were no churches. There were only synagogues, where believers in Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel went to worship.

The Jewish prophets in the Tanach (Old Testament), spoke of Messiah. Moses spoke of Him. No, you won’t find “Jesus” in the Tanach, because that was not His Hebrew name…but Yeshua is all throughout the texts of Hebrew Bible.

Today’s traditional rabbis say that Jews cannot believe in Yeshua, but by the end the First Century over one million Jewish people were believers in Yeshua as the Messiah.  And again today we find vibrant communities of Jews, living as Jews, believing in Yeshua the Jewish Messiah, around the world!

So…what could be more Jewish than to believe in a Jewish Messiah?

If I’m Jewish, Aren’t My Sins Forgiven at Yom Kippur?

For many people, “sin” is viewed as a “moral lapse in judgment” and is “atoned” for with something between a sincere apology and a life sentence. God’s way of forgiving sins is as misunderstood as the problem of sin itself. When the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 BCE, the place of sacrifice for atonement ceased to exist also. Years of traditional teaching has erroneously taught our Jewish people that we don’t need blood atonement for sins. The Scriptures, however, state only blood sacrifice can atone for sins.“The life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11).

Yom Kippur is only effective as a “Day of Atonement” insomuch as God’s way of atonement (Leviticus 16), the blood atonement, is observed. Just acknowledging our sins can not remove those sins any more than an “apology” can get rid of a murder charge. Sin is cosmic treason against the God of Israel.  Through blood atonement rites God was teaching Israel the profound concept of “life for life” – the innocent for the guilty.

The Good News is this: God provided the final, perfect sacrifice in Messiah Yeshua (see the Jewish prophet Isaiah’s prediction of this in Isaiah 53). All of the sacrifices in the Tanach ultimately point to the blood atonement provided by Israel’s Messiah.

Doesn’t Judaism Believe in One God, Not Three?

Messianic Jews, along with Christians, believe that there is only one God. (Deuteronomy 6:4) However, in the Hebrew, the word that is used is “echad” which indicates a plural nature of one, or a “complex unity”.  In the Hebrew Bible “echad” is used to speak of man and woman becoming “one flesh” (Gen 2:24), and is also used to describe two sticks bound together (Ezek 37:17). If the Torah would have wanted to convey a singular “one”, it would have used the word “yachid”. Furthermore, throughout Scripture the God of Israel speaks of Himself in a plural sense.  In Genesis 1:26 we read: “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…”   Isaiah 6:8 says, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”   Keep in mind that the “majestic plural” which many use in an attempt to explain these passages away, was an unknown literary device in the ancient near east at the time the Bible was written.

As Jewish believers in Yeshua we believe that the Bible is our authority. We see in Genesis 1:2 where it says, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”  In the creation story, the Bible makes distinctions between God the Creator, His Spirit which hovered, and the powerful Word through which God made all things.  Since God, His Spirit, and His Word were all involved in creation, and are thus all equally divine, Torah reveals the One true God who is complex in His Nature and Being.  Concerning the “Word” through whom God created all things (God said “let there be”), the Jewish disciple of Messiah Yeshua would later reveal, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made…and the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us” (John 1:1-3, 14).  The divine Word, mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis, came to earth as the Jewish Messiah.  Elsewhere He is called “the Son”.

There are many places in the Hebrew Scriptures that refer to God’s Son. Here is one example from Proverbs 30:4 “Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, If you know?”

To summarize, we believe because the Hebrew Scriptures indicate that God is one, yet speaks of God’s complex unity, we learn that God manifests Himself in three ways:

• God the Father (Abba) the Creator

• The Word or “Son”, the Messiah (Mashiach)

• The Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh)

A simple explanation, although not all encompassing, is that H2O can have three forms; water (liquid), steam (gas) and ice (solid). Three forms, yet all the same compound… H20.  Rabbinic parallels to this can also be found in discussions about the “sefirot”.  Though the sages missed the mark in seeking to explain what Scripture teaches about God’s nature, they too understood our God is a compound “echad” and not “yachid”.

If the Messiah Already Came, Why Isn’t There Peace?

Many Jewish people believe that Yeshua cannot be the promised Messiah because He did not fulfill the prophecies that say Messiah will bring peace on earth. The Hebrew Scriptures, however, paint a much broader picture of Messiah’s role and mission than tradition would have us believe. Before the Messiah brings world peace, prophecy is clear that He must first atone for sin, making peace with God possible for us (Isaiah 53).  The peace that Messiah brings is a peace of heart spoken of in the Scripture. There cannot be real peace on earth until people have had a change of heart so as to make the Kingdom of God on earth possible.  In essence, peace on earth happens one heart at a time…

Eventually, this will be true when the whole nation of Israel receives a new heart as spoken of by the Prophet Ezekiel (26:36), “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  

This will finally become reality when the words of Prophet Zechariah come to pass (12:10, 13:1), “I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication, when they look toward Me whom they pierced.  They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son and grieve bitterly for him, as one grieves for a firstborn…In that day a spring will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and impurity.”  When Messiah returns to rule on the throne of David, He will establish peace on the earth. Until then, those who have accepted Yeshua as Messiah can have peace in their hearts and peace with one another.

Feel free to contact the Rabbi if you’d like to discuss any further questions you may have.