Last week we gained deeper insight into how our Jewish brothers and sisters often perceive Yeshua, an exercise to better understand how our discussions about Him are heard. It is helpful to be reminded when talking to Jewish people that they are still wounded by history and marginalization. It literally took a miraculous encounter for me to be able to go emotionally, viscerally from a place of fear due to experiences of anti-Semitism, to emotionally, viscerally knowing the truth that Yeshua is the Messiah. That barrier of fear must be broken before we can hear what is being said. Often when I’m speaking to the gatekeepers in the mainstream Jewish community, I sense the reason for their pushback is actually fear, not just based on history, but fear that what I am saying may be the truth.
Each of us have filters that inescapably color how we interpret words that we hear and read. On the emotionally charged topic of Yeshua and His place in our Jewish and Christian histories, the more we can understand each other’s perspective, the more likely we are to bridge the gap often based on mutual misunderstandings. Conversation leads to understanding.
To continue de-mystifying the Jewish perspective, at least from my personal walk, once I became a Messianic Jew, I learned how amazing our Christian brothers and sisters really are. There were misunderstandings based on fear that had to be overcome for me to be able to get beyond the filter of my upbringing. As a child I did have a Christian schoolmate ask to feel the horns on my head, and I was accused of killing their God. In my generation, these interactions were not unique. Thank goodness times are changing. I don’t believe our younger folks have these experiences, at least not in the geographical areas where we live.
Soon after I became a Messianic Jew, when I was a very new believer in Yeshua, I couldn’t wait to buy a piece of Messianic Jewish jewelry. As I was admiring a Messianic Seal pendant at a local Christian bookstore, a woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Are you Jewish?” My first reaction was extreme fear. I remember my stomach clenching, my heart racing, my face flushing. I presumed she was Christian since we were in a Christian bookstore. I thought, “Oh my goodness. She knows I’m Jewish! She hates me! She thinks I killed her God!” What a shock when after I quietly said “Yes” she said “Praise God!” and proceeded to talk about why Christians love Jews.
I know for some of you this seems obvious, but for a new Messianic Jew, as was I with no background at all in Christianity, I felt like I was on another planet! Talking to other new Jewish believers in Yeshua, these types of interactions and reactions are not unique. What an amazing joyful road I was about to embark upon to learn of the growing group of Christians who understand the beautiful partnership we are in together to bring to all the understanding of Yeshua. I now appreciate beyond words the blessing our Christian brothers and sisters have been to us. Not only have they sustained and furthered our common beliefs but they have supported Messianic Judaism, frankly at a time when our own mainstream Jewish community has not, a timeframe that continues even today.
So much amazing movement in the right directions – the Jewish community beginning to understand Yeshua’s place as the cornerstone of fully understood Jewish faith, the Christian community recognizing Biblical interpretations that reconcile misunderstandings of the past about Judaism – all responding to HaShem’s orchestration of the day when all will understand. What a time to be alive!