Evangelism Training

Jewish People and Jesus Christ

Pushing The Boundaries — Churches

If you’re reading this then you’re probably interested in sharing your faith in Jesus with Jewish people!

Maybe you have a Jewish neighbour or friend, or even a Jewish relative. Or maybe you just want to be prepared for the time you meet a Jewish person. Here are some things you should know that will help you be a more effective witness.

Basics

Everybody needs to hear the gospel. And the Jews are certainly no exception. Jesus came in fulfillment of the writings of Jewish prophets who were writing to Jewish people (Matthew 5 v 17). So, if Jews don’t need Jesus, no one does! Yes, Jews and Gentiles both need salvation in Jesus. Moreover you definitely don’t have to be Jewish to have an effective witness to Jewish people!

Jewish Identity and Belief

Virtually all Jews are proud of their identity as Jews, but this does not in itself tell us what they believe about God. Even religious Jews may have varying beliefs about God. It is more important to find out what your friend believes about God and the Bible than to find out what kind of synagogue they attend. For many Jews, their Jewish identity is more cultural than religious. But this doesn’t mean that their Jewishness is unimportant to them. Most Jews also think that the opposite of Jewish is Christian and so for them to consider Jesus is problematic because it means considering losing their Jewish identity. Therefore in witnessing to Jewish people about Jesus it is important to stress that they do not need to give up their identity as Jews in order to embrace Jesus as Messiah. Jews do not intrinsically know the difference between nominal, cultural Christianity and a born-again Christian. Christians often assume that Jews practice Judaism and fail to understand the difference between the religion (in all its different forms) and the people.

How to meet Jewish People

Jewish people are often not looking to make friends with non-Jews. They have good community and family support. They may have reasons to be wary of non-Jews. So Christians who would like to meet Jewish people will probably need to take the initiative. This will be easier if you live in a Jewish neighbourhood or have Jewish colleagues at work or if your children attend a school frequented by Jewish children. You might like to consider asking a Jewish community centre about Israeli dancing or learning Hebrew. Or ask the local Rabbi if you could attend a synagogue service. If you are a student, do consider inviting the JSoc (Jewish Society) to a CU event or asking if you could come to one of their Shabbat gatherings.

Myths and Facts

There are several popular myths which keep people from sharing Christ with their Jewish friends.

Myth: All Jews are well versed in the Old Testament.

Fact: Most Jews have a strong cultural identity with very limited knowledge of the Scriptures. The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is not part of the synagogue reading. Most Jews rarely attend synagogue.

Myth: I can just invite my Jewish friend to my church.

Fact: Many Jewish people will not attend church. By all means invite them - particularly to a carol service or a ‘Christ in the Passover’ presentation or another special occasion - but there is no substitute for you personally sharing your faith. The home, pub or Starbucks with a friend, neighbour or colleague are ideal places for witness.

Myth: All Jewish people keep kosher.

Fact: Many Jewish people do keep kosher at home. Most will not eat pork or seafood, but many will. Do invite your Jewish friends for a meal. Ask your Jewish friends what they can and can’t eat. Or tell them that you will be serving fish or a vegetarian dish. They may well be impressed by your thoughtfulness and then let you know that they eat anything!

Myth: I may not be able to answer their questions.

Fact: That’s true. But it does not change the truth of the gospel. Tell your friend you are happy to research the information. This gives you an opportunity to have further witnessing opportunities too.

Myth: I need to wait for the Holy Spirit’s leading. I don’t want to lose my friendship.

Fact: God has already told us we are to be His witnesses (Matthew 28 v 19-20). If you are friendly and forthright you will gain your friend’s respect for genuinely caring even if they don’t agree to discuss the matter at length.

Myth: I will let my life be a testimony and wait until they ask me about Jesus.

Fact: That is likely to be a long wait. Most Jewish people feel that religion is a private matter and might be uncomfortable asking. Besides, the great commission commands us to go tell!

Practical Tips:

When witnessing to a Jewish person, remember:

Make friends. Demonstrate that you really care about the person. Affirm the fact that you know they are Jewish and that you appreciate it. Let your friendship serve as the foundation for your witness to them.

Be up front. Let them know that you are a committed Christian and follower of Jesus. You do not want to appear deceptive or coercive. Be yourself.

Be aware. The history of the church has had a very chequered past, often seen as responsible for persecuting Jews (the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Pogroms, the Holocaust). Be ready to express your regret and then turn the discussion to the person of Jesus with a question like: “I know that terrible things have been done in the name of the church but do you think Jesus was the cause?” Or “I am ashamed that Jewish people have suffered at the hands of so-called Christians but what do you think about the person of Jesus?”

Avoid or explain terms that will be misunderstood

  • Conversion - reminds Jewish people of forced conversions in the Middle-Ages. Many are the stories of Jews who refused baptism and were killed.
  • Becoming a Christian - is not seen as a matter of salvation and eternal life, nor seen as the way to enter a living relationship with the God of Israel. Rather it is perceived as an act of separation from one’s people and religion to join another people and religion.

Ask questions. Everyone likes to be asked their opinion. This can be a good way to steer the conversation towards spiritual matters. Questions about Israel, an upcoming Jewish holiday or even a Bible question from the Old Testament are a good place to start.

Give a personal testimony. The reality of God in your life is a powerful witness. Many Jewish people think that you were born a Christian in the same way that they were born Jewish. Hearing how you became a follower of Jesus or how God answers your prayers can provoke your Jewish friend to jealousy. (Romans 11 v 11)

Use Scripture. Don’t be afraid to answer questions with a verse from the Bible. Encourage your Jewish friend to read the New Testament. Give him/her a Gospel. Most Jewish people have never read the New Testament and most Jews who have come to faith in Christ come as a result of reading the New Testament. After all, it is a very Jewish book!

Expect Opposition

Sin and pride are the common obstacles to faith for all people. The gospel is a stumbling block to many, but also the power of salvation to many others (1 Corinthians 1 v 23-25; Romans 1 v 16). Our battle is a spiritual one (Ephesians 6 v 12). Also remember that though many Jewish people are open and searching for God, Rabbinic Judaism is the spiritual heir to the Pharisaic movement opposed to Jesus.

Be persistent in prayer. Don’t be put off if you receive a negative reaction at first. In fact, expect it. Keep looking for opportunities. Keep praying (Romans 10 v 1). Seek to introduce your friend to a Jewish believer or to one of us at Jews for Jesus. Lend them books or other evangelistic literature.

Ask for a decision and follow-up. Don’t think that your Jewish friend will automatically understand that they need to pray to receive Christ. If they are a willing listener then you should ask if they are willing to receive what you have said for themselves. Be diligent to follow up any decision.

Contact us at Jews for Jesus or other missions

  • for help with following up a Jewish person who is seeking or has just become a believer in Jesus. We can provide resources (books/discipleship manuals/DVDs etc.) or arrange for a missionary to accompany or advise you.
  • for a speaker in your church (topics such as ‘Christ in the Passover’ or ‘Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles’; ‘Messianic Prophecy’; ‘Jewish Objections to Christianity’; ‘The Church and Israel’ etc.).
  • for training in reaching out to Jewish people (seminars and outreaches).
  • for information about evangelistic events for Jewish people.

Some common Jewish objections to Christianity:

  • If Jesus is the Messiah, why is there no peace on earth?
  • We believe in one God, not the Trinity
  • Why are we accused of killing Christ?
  • God deplores human sacrifice. How could he allow Jesus to sacrifice His life?
  • How could God have a Son?

Important Messianic Passages

Seed of Woman Gen 3v15; Gal 4v4

Of Abraham Gen 12v3; Matt 1v1-2

Of tribe of Judah Gen 49v10; Luke 3v33

Seed of Jacob Num 24v17ff; Luke 3v34

Seed of David Ps 132v11; Acts 2v29-30

Prophet like Moses Deut 18v15ff; Matt 21v11

Son of God Ps 2v7; Luke 1v32

Resurrected Ps 16v10; Acts 13v35-37

Crucified Ps22; Matt 27v34-50

Betrayed by a friend Ps 41v9; John 13v18,21

Ascends to heaven Ps 68v18; Luke 24v51

Homage by kings Ps 72v10; Matt 2v1-11

Priest like Melchizedek Ps 110v4; Heb 5v5-6

At right hand of God Ps 110v1; Matt 26v64

Rejected becomes cornerstone Is 28v16; Matt 21v42-43

Born of a virgin Is 7v14; Matt 1v18-25

Galilee first area of ministry Is 9v1-8; Matt 4v12-16

Meek and mild Is 42v2-3; Matt 12v18-20

Minister to the Gentiles Is 42v1; Matt 12v21

Will be smitten Is 50v6; Matt 26v67

Death & resurrection Is 53; 4 gospels

New and everlasting covenant Jer31; Luke 22v20

The right arm of God Is 59v16; John 12v38

An intercessor Is 59v16; Heb 9v15

Two fold mission Is 61v1-11; Luke 4v16-21

Will perform miracles Is 35v5-6; John 11v47

Time of his coming prophesied Dan 9v24-26; Gal 4v4

Born in Bethlehem Mic 5v2; Matt 2v1

Enter Jerusalem on a donkey Zech 9v9; Matt 21v1-10

Forsaken by his disciples Zech 13v7; Matt 26v31,56

Promise of Holy Spirit Joel 2v28-29; Acts 2v16-18

Further Resources

  • Questions and Answers by Jews for Jesus
  • Betrayed by Stan Telchin
  • How to Witness to Jews by Moishe Rosen
  • Y’shua the Jewish way to say Jesus by Moishe Rosen
  • Jewish Objections to Jesus (4 volumes) by Michael Brown
  • Forbidden Peace (DVD - testimonies of Israeli Jews and Arabs who have come to Christ)
  • Survivor Stories (DVD - testimonies of Holocaust Survivors who have come to Christ)
  • Helen Shapiro Testimony - CD or DVD

For a complete list or further information contact:

Jews for Jesus
106-110 Kentish Town Rd
London NW1 9PX
Tel 020 7267 5597
Email info@jewsforjesus.org.uk
Web www.jewsforjesus.org.uk