When witnessing to Jewish people we must remember to be sensitive to the 2,000 years of anti-Semitic prejudice that has infiltrated the “church” teachings.
As a Jewish man, I can tell you that I have seen anti-Semitism, shrouded in the “Christian” Bible and also clearly demonstrated by those that have been told how the Christians are not subject to the “Law”, saved by the Blood and, in extreme cases, now the new Israel and God’s chosen people because since the Jews rejected Jesus, God has rejected the Jews (this is called Replacement Theology).
I don’t have the time to go into how absurd and anti-biblical that idealism is, and will discuss it some time in the future. It is a very serious sin, against God (essentially it calls Him a liar) and against His chosen people.
You might ask, if it is so hard to witness to Jews, why should we? Well, how about because Yeshua said you should. Remember the last words in the Gospels, i.e., the “Great Commission”? Yeshua didn’t say go make disciples out of people who already believe, or out of only the Goyim (literally, the Nations), but go to the Jews. Yeshua Himself told the Syrian woman that it wasn’t right to give the children’s food to their dogs (no offence, Syria), and Shaul (Paul) said that the Good News was to the Jew first, then the Gentile. It wasn’t until later that salvation was made available to the Gentiles, too.
That’s why you need to remember that you will not impress any Jewish person by quoting the New Covenant writings. Why? It’s simple- Jews are taught that the New Covenant is a different religion and they don’t believe anything in it. It caused thousands of years of death and persecution. If I tried to ask you to become a Nazi and quoted Mein Kampf, would it hold sway over you? That may seem outrageous to compare Hitler and Jesus, but to a Jewish person, the Jesus Christ of the Western World isn’t far from that. The Crusades, the Inquisition, Martin Luther’s teachings, Nazi uniforms had the words “Gott mit uns” (God is with us) on their belt buckles. Yeah, I think that it’s not too hard to see why Jews don’t trust anything in the New Covenant writings.
When I was a salesman, selling high priced items in the home on a one-call close (buy now or never), I learned you can’t tell people that their ideas or beliefs are wrong. You also can’t change their minds because people believe (maybe) 50% of what you say, but they believe 100% of what they say.
So, the way to get people to change their minds is to make them change it, themselves. How? By asking questions. Make them see that they do not have the information they need to make a proper decision.
For instance, if a Jewish person says they don’t believe Yeshua is the Messiah, I will ask them, “Why?” Usually the answer is, “Because” (I did a drash on this recently- you should be able to find it under the Jews and Jesus category.) Most Jews reject Yeshua simply because they have been told to. And by people they trust and respect: their parents, their Rabbi, their friends. It’s tough to overcome that.
After you make them realize they don’t really have a reason, the next step is to qualify why you believe, and use ONLY the Tanakh references as your justification.
DO NOT TRY TO SELL A JEW ON JESUS USING THE NEW COVENANT. It ain’t gonna work. And, if you can’t identify at least a couple of Messianic references in the Tanakh, you better brush up on your knowledge. You might want to ask yourself why you believe! If you believe only because of what you have been told, and if you can’t cite messianic prophecy from the Tanakh and show how it came true, you aren’t ready to minister to the outside world. Study up, get to know your reasons for accepting Yeshua as your Messiah. That is what you need to tell Jewish people; in fact, that is the best witness to anyone.
No, wait- the best witness is to live as Yeshua wants us to live. To love God and to love each other.
Another lesson I learned in sales that you need in ministry is that if you don’t have an absolutely firm belief in your “product”, if you don’t “own” the product, and not just physically but emotionally, then you won’t be successful.
“Whoa, Steven- what’s all this talk about ‘selling Jesus’? This isn’t a sale, it’s salvation!”
Get real- it’s a sale!
If you want to minister to people you need to sell Jesus. And, if you don’t like that idea, then you should consider another way of serving God. Ministering to the masses is tough work. I have a ton of respect for people that go into the darkness (in other words, the World) to save souls. It is the ultimate sale, and a “commission” that doesn’t have a commission. Although it is rewarding to save a soul, your reward will not be here on Earth but in Heaven. And it will be great.
Look at it another way- refusing to witness to Jews is like saying, “Let the Jews die unsaved.” You think God appreciates that? Is that what Yeshua would want?
You can expect a lot of rejection from Jews. After all, to a Jewish person believing in Jesus is like turning your back on God, your people and 5,000 years of history. Some of the objections you will hear will be:
* Jesus could not have been the Messiah because there wasn’t peace after his death and we don’t have heaven on Earth
* I like being Jewish and don’t want to convert to Christianity (most Jews never heard of Messianic Judaism)
* Jesus was just a good teacher or prophet
* Christians have always killed and persecuted Jews- why should I believe you want to help me?
* Constantine’s effect on Christianity (Council of Nicene) solidified a gentile Christianity and replaced Jewish holidays and traditions with rebranded pagan ceremonies
* Anti-Semitic teachings of the Gentile leaders of the early church
– Crusaders murdered many Jews on their way to Jerusalem (by now renamed by Rome as Palestine)
– Stories like: Jews killed Christian children to use their blood to make matzo at Passover
* Forced to wear distinctive clothing, pushed into ghettos, kept out of many occupations
* Blamed for the Black Death plague
* During the 15th century the Pogroms (Poland/Russia) were responsible for the death of thousands (or more) Jews
And there’s more- much more. Today I think it is much harder for a Jewish person to accept their own Messiah than it is for a Believer to try to witness to that person.
Finally, you must be very sensitive to the words and names you use. Do not deny the anti-Semitic past, but say it is time to move forward, to atone for what was done by telling the truth and getting back to the “Jewishness” of the Gospels.
Don’t be cocky. Remember Shaul warned Gentile Believers that if God was willing to cut off the natural branch, how much more will He be willing to cut off a transplanted branch? Believers aren’t any better than non-Believers, and Christians aren’t any better than Jews. Yeshua said to be first you must be a slave to others. Keep that in mind when you minister to anyone.
Always relate to people as people with courtesy, dignity and friendliness. Be natural and spontaneous, not derisive or argumentative, and always depend on the Ruach HaKodesh for your witnessing. As Yeshua told His disciples, do not worry about what you will say because the Ruach will give you what you will need. If you let the Ruach guide you, then it is really God witnessing to the people, not you. And His word never returns void.
If we are to make people jealous for the Messiah (Romans 11:11), the best witness is not what we say but how we live our lives and act towards others, even in a brief encounter. Avoid offensive terminology; instead of the word ‘conversion” use ‘turning from sin’, or T’Shuvah. Instead of ‘you Jews”, say ‘the Jewish people’, instead of ‘Old Testament”, say ‘Hebrew scriptures’, ‘Tanakh’, or ‘Torah”. And never, NEVER refer to a saved Jew as a “Completed Jew”. That is insulting and derisive. I like to call myself a “Born-anew Jew.”
And above all, instead of ‘Jesus Christ’, say ‘Yeshua’, ‘Mashiach’, or ‘Messiah’.
If you practice this, keep up on your Messianic prophecies, learn how to answer objections with leading questions, and act with compassion for what it is like to be Jewish, you will be more successful than you can imagine. It will take time: Jewish resistance to the B’rit Chadasha has been built up over millennia. It is based in prejudice, hate, fear, ignorance, and suffering. It is a very thick wall to penetrate. But it can be penetrated- I am living proof of that.
If you want to see my witness, go here: http://www.jacobshope.com/pages/video3.php
Now! Get out there, save souls, and may God be with you.
Baruch ha Shem!!