We have received many letters from our readers asking about how to share their faith with Jewish friends, neighbors and co-workers. Many of you have Jewish friends or acquaintances, but may be intimidated to talk to them about your relationship with the Lord. There are likely several reasons for this, so let me begin by clearing up a few misconceptions that many Believers have about Jewish people:
One common misconception is that the Jewish people have their own path to God and don’t need Yeshua (Jesus) for salvation. As a teenager, I heard the Gospel numerous times from zealous Christians, but when I responded by informing them that I was Jewish, I always seemed to get an apology. Surprisingly, many believe that it is an act of good will not to share the Gospel with Jewish people. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only do Jewish people need the Messiah for salvation like everyone else, but Romans 1:16 tells us that the Gospel is “to the Jew first.”
A second misconception is that all Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah. In reality, many Jews have no idea who Jesus really is! When a Jew hears Jesus Christ, they automatically think “the God of the Christians” rather than the Jewish Messiah, or Savior of the world. In fact, Christ is simply the Greek word for Messiah. It is not that Jewish people have rejected Jesus, they simply have no idea who He really is.
A third misconception Christians have that often hinders them from sharing their faith is that Jewish people all know the Bible better than they do. Wrong again. Only about 10% of the Jewish community is actually orthodox and actively involved in study of Scripture. The truth is that although the Jewish people are referred to as The People of the Book, most Jewish people have never even read their own Bible!
Clearing up these misconceptions is important in order to break down some of the barriers that have kept Christians from effectively reaching Jewish people.
Now, on to a few key pointers that will help you to reach out to your Jewish friends, co-workers and family members:
Learn to Share the Gospel from the Old Testament
It has been said that the New Testament is concealed in the Old and the Old Testament is revealed in the New. The entire Gospel: sin and our resulting separation from God, the consequences of that sin, heaven, hell, grace, the virgin birth, atoning death and resurrection of the Messiah can all be found in the Old Testament. Jesus used the Old Testament Scriptures to prove He was the Messiah (see Luke 24:27). When we are told in Acts that the apostles expounded the scriptures to show that Jesus was the promised Messiah (see Acts 28:23), we need to remember that there was no New Testament for them to use…they wrote the New Testament! They used the Jewish Scriptures as their text…and you can too, with a little study. Remember, the Old Testament can be common ground for Christians and Jews that believe the Hebrew Scriptures are the inspired Word of God.
Learn Some of the Key Messianic Prophecies
There are well over 300 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that reveal the identity of the Messiah. With just a little study, you can learn many of these key prophecies. The fact that the Old Testament tells us where the Messiah would be born, when He would live, how He would die, why He would die, that He would be rejected by His own people, and the fact that Yeshua fulfills these prophecies written hundreds of years before He was ever born, in such detail, are objective proofs of His Messiahship and the supernatural nature of Scripture. I have had the incredible privilege over the years of leading many of my own Jewish brethren through key Messianic prophecies in our own Jewish Scriptures and it is absolutely amazing to watch the scales fall off of their eyes as they are shown powerful Messianic prophecies like Isaiah 53 and Jeremiah 31:31-33. Their response is always the same, as they ask me, often with tears in their eyes, “Why didn’t anyone ever show me this before?”
Use Effective and Correct Terminology
Words like “Jesus Christ, Christian, church, convert, baptize,” mean something very different to a Jewish person than they do to a Christian. For the first 20 years of my life until I found the Lord, I thought Jesus Christ was the God of the Christians...that Jesus was His first name and Christ was His family name… “Jesus Christ, son of Mr. and Mrs. Christ.”
I didn’t know that Jesus was Jewish and His original given name was Yeshua, which is Hebrew and means salvation. That’s why Joseph was commanded to give Him this name…because He would save His people from their sins. (Mathew 1:21) When a Jewish person hears the word Christ, they have no clue that Christ comes from christos which means “Anointed One” and is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Mashiach or Messiah. Any Jewish person will relate to Messiah. Use Messiah instead of Christ. Call Him by His Hebrew name, Yeshua. Take time to learn terminology that a Jewish person can relate to. And perhaps most important, make it clear that a Jew does not have to convert to Christianity to be saved; they simply need to accept their Messiah, promised in their own Torah and Prophets.
Share Your Testimony
Jewish people love the supernatural. I find that very often people who don’t want to be preached at or discuss the Bible are still very interested to hear what happened in your life that caused such a drastic change. Let them know that the same God who touched you and changed your life can do the same for them!
Discern Where They are in Their Faith
Before you can share with anyone about their sin and need for forgiveness, you first need to find out if they even believe in God. You need to discern where someone is first before you can effectively minister to their need. This is true of all effective evangelism, not just with Jewish people.
Be a Friend
This really is the bottom line. I once heard someone say that “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” And it’s true. Be a friend. Don’t make your interest in people conditional on whether or not they accept your message. If you are there for them consistently over time, they will eventually want to know why you believe and act the way you do.
Pray, Pray, Pray
And finally, pray faithfully for them. Prayer moves the Hand of God, it changes people’s hearts. And don’t give up! Remember, the Word of God never returns void. I have known the Lord since 1980 and I am still the only member of my family that believes in Yeshua. But I am not giving up and never will. I am believing that my entire family will one day know Messiah Yeshua as their Savior. Remember, we walk by faith and not by sight.