First rule: don’t use the name “Jesus”- use “Yeshua.” The name “Jesus” brings up too many unwelcome memories to Jews, such as “Christ killer”. I grew up being called that by all the Catholic school kids. In the past decade or so Catholicism has “lightened up” on us Jews, but there is too much history to make a Jew comfortable with the name Jesus. And there are still many modern-day Christians who push Replacement Theology, which is an insult to God as much as it is to Jews. Even after understanding the truth of who Jesus is, knowing the Jewish Messiah Yeshua for nearly 20 years now, I am still uncomfortable with “Jesus.” And don’t even start me on the word “Christ!”
Second Rule: don’t quote from the New Covenant writings. Jews don’t believe it is Scripture, they have been told that Jesus created a new religion (that hates Jews) and the New Covenant is what He wrote (not true, of course, but that doesn’t really even matter.) You need to be totally familiar with the Messianic passages in the Tanakh. You also need to know more about the Tanakh than the Jewish person you are talking to, or at least enough to impress them that you have some knowledge of, and respect for, Judaism. The fact is, if you don’t know the Old Covenant and the Messianic scriptures that define who Yeshua is and what He will do, then you shouldn’t minister to anyone because you aren’t fully prepared. Counting on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is fine and useful and biblically sound, but you still need to know enough to talk to a Jew like a Jew if you want to get through to a Jew. Nu?
Third Rule: Don’t tell, ask. Believe me, when you start to talk to a Jew about Yeshua, and you talk about Isaiah 53, and Jeremiah 31:31 and Joel, and Zachariah, and all the other 144 or so Messianic passages in the Tanakh (and you should know what “Tanakh” means) you can tell a Jewish person all there is and when you think you’ve sold them, they’ll simply say they don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah, “Because He isn’t, that’s all!” That’s what they have been taught for centuries; in fact, for more than two 2 millenniums. The best way (take it from an old “sales” pro) to make someone accept what you say against what they have been told is not to tell them why something is so. You start out by making them doubt what they think is the truth as maybe not really being all that true. “And how”, you may ask, “do I do that?” The answer is: you don’t tell, you ask. Instead of telling them all the reasons you know why Yeshua (remember: we don’t use the “j-word”) is the Messiah, ask them why they think Yeshua is not the Messiah. I can almost guarantee that 99.9% of the time, the answer will be, “Because He’s not, that’s why.” And they answer that way because that is what they have been told is the truth by parents, by their Zayda and Bubbe, by their Rabbi, by everyone they know who is Jewish. He just isn’t, that’s all there is to it. Once you get to that point, you can then ask these questions, in this order:
Do you think that recognizing the Messiah when He comes, no matter who he is, is important? (if they say no, don’t waste any more time on this one)
When you have to make an important decision, do you feel better doing it with good information or by just blindly guessing? (again, if they say guessing is fine, move on)
(If you make it to this question, here’s what you say next) Well, then I’m confused: You say you want good information yet you have nothing but, “Just because.” You are choosing your eternal future on no information instead of listening to good information. (Don’t pause to let them speak but go right into the kicker)…If I told you there are hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who have accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and are still 100% Jewish, practicing Judaism exactly as you do, holy days, Shabbat, Torah, everything exactly as you have been brought up doing, would you be interested in hearing just a little more about Messianic Judaism?
These are the essential three steps to ministering to Jews. If the answer to that last question is, “Yes”, then you have planted a seed. Now you have to let it grow, at it’s own pace. Now you can tell them more about the Tanakh passages and, since they doubt what they knew to be true (which is, essentially, you can’t believe in Jesus and still be Jewish) and are open to the real truth, you can take the Tanakh passage and relate it directly to the New Covenant passage. And remember, also (this is VERY important) to point out that the New Covenant is NOT a new religion, Yeshua never taught against the Torah or Judaism, and that the New Covenant is the eye-witness account about a Jew, written by Jews, of what happened to Jews. That is also the description of the Old Covenant, isn’t it? Eye-witness account written by Jews of what happened to Jews.
If you can master these questions, and deliver them with the compassionate understanding that for thousands of years Jewish people have been told believing in Jesus is being a traitor to your family and to God, then you have a good chance of helping Jews to find and know their own Messiah.
If you “bible-pound” Jewish people with threats of hell and eternal damnation and quote from the New Covenant, you might as well “kick against the goads” and not even waste your breath. Being a Jew I can tell you this: Jews will not be able to accept the truth about who and what Yeshua is until they can get past all that they have been told He isn’t.
Here is an absolute truth: people believe only half of what you tell them, but 100% of what they say. You need to get them to doubt what they believe before you have a chance of them listening to what you have to tell them.