Today’s environment of isolation is driving people everywhere to search for hope, peace, and meaning. Despite being known as the chosen people, Jewish people are searching, too, perhaps more intensely now than ever. But most Jewish people will not be looking to Jesus or the New Testament for answers. The chasm created by centuries of misunderstanding and mistreatment of Jewish people by those who alleged faith in Christ but did not act in love towards the Jewish people is why believing in Jesus, and even reading the New Testament, is so difficult for those raised in Jewish homes.
Yet, we know that God is eternal, His Word is truth, and He has woven the Gospel throughout the Scriptures—all of it! The Good News did not begin in the New Testament, as the Hebrew Scriptures contain the Good News, too. This is a good place to begin when speaking with a Jewish friend. The following are a few suggestions you might find useful when speaking with a Jewish person about the Gospel.
God Is Holy
Although Leviticus is the third book of the Bible, it is often the first book that Jewish parents teach their children. It contains a large portion of the legal code that has come to be associated with religious Judaism. God commanded the children of Israel in Leviticus to “be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). God issued this order no fewer than six times. The implication is that, by following the ordinances, statutes and commands in the Scriptures, one will be holy.
Nobody Meets the Standard
Yet, the prophet Isaiah wrote that no matter how well you do at “being righteous,” it will never be enough: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment“ (Isaiah 64:6). If that is the case, then God had to provide a way to make atonement. On our own, we can never be holy in His eyes.
The Means of Atonement
The Lord included within the Law the way to make reparations when Israel disobeyed. Atonement is the focus of two entire chapters – Leviticus 16 and 17. However, the process can be summed up in one verse, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement” (Leviticus 17:11).
The Day of Atonement comes every year. Yet, God promised through the prophet Isaiah that, one day, the Lamb of God – the Messiah – would serve as a final sacrifice for all of us, forever. The prophet writes,
“All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6).
Always About Faith
The picture the prophets paint shows that God certainly desires obedience, “but the righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). It is this faith – the faith to believe in the One on whom God has caused our iniquity to fall – that brings the hope and peace all of us – both Jewish and Gentiles – so desperately need.
All About Jesus
He is the way, the truth and the life, and no one, Jew or Gentile, can enter into this personal intimate relationship with God without Him. He is our sacrifice and High Priest who stands in the gap between humanity and our Creator. He died for our sins and rose from the grave, conquering spiritual and even physical death. As Isaiah wrote about His death,
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5)
and also His resurrection,
“But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.” (Isaiah 53:10). ❤