Can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus? I’d like to introduce you to Jordan, Ronit, and Johnny.
Jordan grew up in a Jewish home, but he hated Hebrew School and flunked out before his bar mitzvah. He was infatuated with the arts and pursued a career in theater. He became involved in Eastern religions, which he found fascinating. However, he still felt empty, despite success in his career. One day, a friend told Jordan about Jesus and gave him a Bible. Soon thereafter, Jordan accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Is Jordan still Jewish?
Ronit grew up in a Conservadox family, kept a kosher kitchen, and loved being Jewish. She felt God’s presence in synagogue but would pray and would not hear back from him. She felt empty and distant from God. Then her cousin became a believer in Jesus, leading Ronit to investigate the Messiah more. Her sister challenged her to learn more about Judaism and put questions about Jesus aside, so Ronit decided to become more religious. During that time, she discovered the prophecy in the Torah that Messiah would be “a prophet like Moses” (Deuteronomy 18:15). After reading the New Testament, Ronit came to the conclusion that no one fit that description better than Yeshua. Is Ronit still Jewish?
Johnny grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in South Africa. He “davened” daily and considered the existence of God to be a given. He began a career in advertising, which caused him to become cynical and discouraged by life. He began partying and focusing on becoming wealthy. This led nowhere, and Johnny became more and more dissatisfied. But one day, he started reading a Bible a friend gave him. He found his soul resonating with the words of Jesus. As tears streamed down his face, he thought, No man spoke like this man. He began studying the Bible and found prophecy after prophecy that Jesus fulfilled. He began to believe in Jesus as his Messiah and found his life transformed. Is Johnny still Jewish?
Consider the different backgrounds and experiences of Jordan, Ronit, and Johnny. At various points in their lives, they were religious, irreligious, looking for God, not looking for God, attending synagogue, or following after some very non-Jewish expressions of religious belief. If you would have asked them at any of those points, “Are you still Jewish?” they would have responded with, “Are you kidding me? Of course!”
Each of these three courageously took a step of faith that was counter to the way they were raised. Even so, they were compelled to believe in Jesus anyway. They discovered he was the door into the presence of the God of Israel.
If you were to ask Jordan, Ronit, or Johnny about their Jewish identity today, they would tell you that their Jewishness has been deepened, completed, and fulfilled more through Jesus than through anything they had previously experienced.
What else would you expect? If Jesus is the Jewish Messiah of Israel, what could be more Jewish than following him?