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What is Messianic Judaism?

December 01, 2015

Messianic Judaism is the name given to New Testament faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah by those who are of Jewish heritage. Perhaps in the past you’ve heard it called Jewish Christianity. It also invites into fellowship Gentiles who wish to embrace the full expression of faith in Yeshua and the God of Abraham as revealed in both the Old and New Testaments. One of the most disconcerting things about the separation that has grown between Christianity and Judaism is the belief by Jewish People that Jesus contradicts and opposes Judaism. On the contrary, Jesus Himself was Jewish, as were most of His first followers and disciples.

The God of Abraham is the God of Yeshua. Yeshua is the Messiah of the Jewish People. Messianic Judaism is an expression of faith in Yeshua that combines the lifestyle and heritage of Judaism with the New Testament teachings of Jesus as the only provision for salvation from sin and God’s New Covenant prophesied in Jeremiah 31.

In the early days of the Jesus Movement of the 1960s and 70s, young people came to faith in Jesus by the thousands. Among them were many Jewish youth who were primarily assimilated into traditional Christian churches, leaving their Jewish roots behind entirely. Messianic Judaism emerged as a refreshing acceptance of the heritage and Jewish roots of new Jewish Believers. No longer did they feel the need to turn from their Jewishness and the customs, traditions, and practices of their Jewish heritage. Messianic Judaism allowed them to preserve their Jewish identity and grow in their New Testament faith in Yeshua. Thus some people came to call it Jewish Christianity.

Congregations of Messianic Judaism teach both Old and New Testament Scriptures. Services often have a Jewish “feel” with the incorporation of some traditional Hebrew prayers and customs. Worship music may include traditional, upbeat Jewish melodies with both Hebrew and English lyrics as well as more “Gentile” songs of faith.

Today, many Gentiles are drawn to discover the Jewish roots of their faith in Yeshua, knowing that Jesus was Jewish and that the New Testament is the continuation and completion of the Old. Messianic congregations all over the world are comprised of both Jews and Gentiles. This is a beautiful expression of what the Apostle Paul described in his letter to the Ephesians as the “one new man.” Both Jew and Gentile are now united in the Jewish Messiah Yeshua.

Jesus made it clear: there is no other way to the Father but through Him. Messianic Judaism is an exciting realm where this unity in Jesus is lived out. It is a testimony to the Christian Church as a whole to the responsibility of all Christians to love Jewish People and reach out to them with the Gospel.

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