The first question I would like to ask you is this: There are two reasons most Jewish people I know – neighbors, friends, family – two reasons most I know reject any idea of Jesus being the Jewish Messiah. Those reasons are always “anti-Semitism” and “Why, if He was the Messiah, did He not bring in worldwide peace?” Therefore He could not be the Messiah. Let's begin with the most sensitive of issues, anti-Semitism.
I had an uncle who was in a German camp. He was a prisoner of war. The Nazis were going to kill Him. He was rescued by the Russians at the last moment as my wife's father was rescued by the Russians at the last moment as he was against the wall about to be shot. The Germans were trying to kill as many Jews as they could before they evacuated, before the retreat in the face of the oncoming invasion. My wife is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Most of her family were murdered. And, of course, they were murdered in the name of Jesus Christ. The remaining orthodox church, the Roman Catholic Church and most of the Lutheran church in Germany collaborated with the Nazis. Hitler quoted Luther at length. It was not just Catholics, it was Protestants. How can I believe that the person in whose name one Inquisition after another, one pogrom after another, and ultimately the Holocaust should be even considered as a possible candidate to be the Jewish Messiah, when in His name nothing but genocidal extermination and persecution has come to Israel and the Jews? That’s the question I asked myself, but this is the question I would like to ask you.
If you were to read the Tanak, “Yirmayah Ha’nabiy” – Jeremiah the Prophet was arrested and thrown into a cistern. (Jer. 38:6) He pointed people to the Law, the Torah. He warned them of impending doom and judgment and God’s anger with them because of idolatry and immorality. And like most of the other prophets he was persecuted. But he was not persecuted in the name of Ba’al; he was not persecuted in the name of Molech. Most of the Hebrew prophets who were persecuted or murdered by their own people were murdered in the name of Yahweh and Moses. They were accused of speaking against the Torah and Moses when they said that God’s judgment was going to come upon Jerusalem.
I recall several years ago when an Orthodox Jew wearing a yarmulke drew a pistol in north Tel Aviv and fired bullets directly into the back of the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. He did this in the name of Judaism; he did this in the name of the Torah; he did this in the name of Yahweh; he did this in the name of Moses – “Moshe Rabbeinu”. An Orthodox Jew assassinated Yitzhak Rabin, gunned him down, murdered his own prime minister in the name of Moses and Judaism. Can I reject Moses and Judaism because somebody assassinated Yitzhak Rabin in his name? Can I reject Moses and Judaism because the prophets were persecuted and killed in their name?
Simon bar Kokhba came and was extolled as a hero. He was proclaimed to be the Messiah by Rabbi Akiva in the name of Moses and the Prophets. The Israeli general and archeologist, the first chief of staff of the Israeli military Ya’alon said something different. He described bar Kokhba as something of a brute tyrant who once kicked a 90-year-old rabbi in the head and killed him; a warlord, someone who’d been power-hungry. Some saw him that way, but Rabbi Akiva said he was the Messiah. And in the name of Moses and Judaism, Rabbi Akiva promised the Jewish people he was the Messiah and would bring them deliverance. At the battle of Betar, the worst holocaust in proportionate terms that has ever happened to Israel took place, (something in proportionate terms as bad as the Holocaust of the 1930’s and 40’s) only it happened in their own land. Because Rabbi Akiva proclaimed bar Kokhba to be the Messiah in the name of Moses and Judaism, can I reject Moses and Judaism? No, Rabbi Akiva did not bring peace to Israel and establish worldwide peace through his Messiah bar Kochba. Bar Kochba did not establish worldwide peace and bring peace to Israel even though in the name of Moses and Judaism they said he would.
If you’ve studied Judaism you know about Shabbetai. Most rabbis in major areas of Europe and North Africa, most in major areas and many others in a variety of areas, said he was the Messiah, but he was not a Messiah. In the end he led the people into what can best be described as something debaucherous and grossly disappointing. Yet it was in the name of Moses and the Prophets that the rabbis proclaimed Shabbetai Zevi to be the Messiah. Can I reject Moses and Judaism because the rabbis misled the Jewish people into following Shabbetai Zevi in the name of Moses and Judaism?
Two generations later the rabbis did it again and they said Jacob Frank was the Messiah on a wide scale. But Jacob Frank was not the Messiah, yet in the name of Moses and Judaism the rabbis said he was. And some very bad things happened to the Jewish people. There’ve been many people who the rabbis have said is the Messiah right up to the present age, and they always proclaimed them to be the Messiah in the name of Moses and Judaism. Murder and atrocity was committed in the name of Moses and Judaism. Genocidal persecution of the Jews resulted as a direct result of Rabbi Akiva’s action perpetrated in the name of Moses and Judaism.
On what basis can I reject Moses and Judaism because of what was done in the name of Moses? I cannot reject Moses and Judaism because of what was done in the name of Moses. I have to accept or reject Moses on the basis of what Moses said and did, not on the basis of what others said and did in his name. The issue is not what was done in the name of Moses, the issue is Moses. So then my question to you is, “On what basis can I reject Yeshua – Rabbi Yeshua bar Jozef m’Netseret, whom the Gentiles call 'Jesus of Nazareth' – on what basis can I dismiss Him and reject Him?" On the basis of what was done in His name to the Jewish people and to others? The issue is not what was done and said in His name by others, the issue is what did He say and do? The issue is not what Jesus is said to have said, the issue is not what others did generations and centuries after His public ministry in Israel, the issue is not what others said and did in His name. The issue is not that, the issue is He Himself.
I considered Moses apart from what was done in his name. Now you don't think of it, but goys – Gentiles will say much the same thing about you that you think about them. They have these myths of conspiracy theories and Jewish bankers and Jewish merchants and Jews trying to take over the medical profession and the academic institutions, making Jews the scapegoats for most of man’s faults and problems when in fact we all know there are both good Jews and bad Jews the same as there’s good Gentiles and bad Gentiles. But it’s easy just to say, “Oh, the Jews!”, and it’s just as easy to say, “Oh, the Christians!” No real Jew would commit murder in the name of Judaism; no real Jew would persecute their own prophets in the name of Judaism; no real Christian would commit murder in the name of Christianity. no real Christians would murder God's own chosen people, the Jews, in the name of a Jewish faith. Christianity is a Jewish faith.
How can you reject Jesus on the basis of what was done in His name unless you reject Moses on the same grounds? I don't reject Moses for those reasons, it wouldn't be fair to Moses and it wouldn't be fair to myself. The issue is was Moses right? I hope you won’t reject Jesus on those grounds. It wouldn't be fair to Him and it wouldn't be fair to you. The issue is, “Was Yeshua right?” Not the Gentile “Jesus”, not the Catholic or Protestant “Jesus”, but the Jewish Jesus: Was He right?
By the 2nd Century the Jewish historian Max Dimont tells us that 25% of the Jews in Jerusalem believed he was the Messiah. The only reason Gentiles believe in Him is because Jews believed it first. The only reason there’s a New Testament is that Jews wrote it. Both those calling themselves Jews and those calling themselves Christians are the products of revisionism, a rewritten distortion of history. There is nothing Gentile about Jesus or His message except that He loves Gentiles and wanted to save them and wanted them to believe in the Jewish God and the Jewish way of salvation. That is all. “la’or goyim” – “a light to the Gentiles”. (Is. 42:6).
That's my first question, my dear Jewish friend, how can you reject Jesus because of what was done in His name when the same things were done in the name of Moses and Judaism?