Did you know that Jesus did not come into the world to establish a new religion called Christianity but rather to fulfill what was written by Moses and the prophets?
Did you know that his Hebrew name was Yeshua, that his mother’s name was Miriam, that he was referred to as “Rabbi” rather than “Reverend,” and that he was called “Christ” because that was the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew term “Messiah”?
Did you know that all of his first followers were Jews, including men named “Shim’on, called Kefa, and Andrew his brother, Ya’akov Ben-Zavdai and Yochanan his brother, Philip and Bar-Talmai, T’oma and Mattityahu the tax collector, Ya’akov Bar-Halfai and Taddai, Shim’on the Zealot and Y’hudah from K’riot, who betrayed him” (Matthew 10:2-4, Jewish New Testament)?
Did you know that the New Testament letter of James is really Jacob in the Greek, that Jude is really Judah, and that the very concept of “New Testament” is borrowed from the words of the prophet Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 31:31-34)?
Did you know that Jesus born “King of the Jews” and died “King of the Jews” (see Matthew 2:2; 27:35-37), and that he lived and died as a Jew?
Did you know that Saint John the Baptist was really Rabbi Yochanan the Immerser?
Did you know that when the woman with the issue of blood reached out and touched the kraspedon of Yeshua’s garment (Matthew 9:20; see also Matthew 14:36; Mark 6:36) that the word should be translated as “fringe” rather than “hem”? (See Numbers 15:38-39; Deuteronomy 22:12; Zechariah 8:23, which refer to the fringes/tassels that Jewish men were commanded to wear, and where the Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, translated the Hebrew word for fringe with the Greek word kraspedon. Jesus, as a Torah observant Jew, wore these tassels.)
Did you know that he fulfilled the Spring Feasts of Israel – called God’s appointed times (Leviticus 23) – when he died (corresponding to Passover; see 1 Corinthians 5:7), rose from the dead (corresponding to Firstfruits; see 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23), and sent the Spirit (corresponding to Pentecost/Weeks; see Acts 2:1-4)?
Did you know that he will fulfill the Fall Feasts of Israel (see again Leviticus 23) when he returns with the blast of the trumpet (corresponding to the Feast of Trumpets; see Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 11:15), ushering in national atonement for Israel (corresponding to the Day of Atonement; see Zechariah 12:10-13:1; Romans 11:26-27), with the survivors of the nations that attack Jerusalem coming there to worship the Lord (corresponding to the Feast of Tabernacles; see Zechariah 14:16)?
Did you know that the word “church” is not the best translation for the Greek word ekklesia (see Matthew 16:18) and that it would be better translated as “congregation” or “assembly”?
Did you know that the Greek word synagoges is virtually always translated with “synagogue” in our English New Testaments (rightly so) except in Jacob (James) 2:2, where it is normally translated with “meeting” or “assembly,” since it referred there to a gathering place of followers of Jesus? Did the translators forget that Jacob was writing to fellow Jewish believers in Yeshua whose meeting place was also called a “synagogue”?
Did you know that Saul of Tarsus was not persecuting Christians, did not convert to Christianity, and did not change his name to Paul as a result of his alleged Christian conversion? Instead, as a Jew born in a Greek-speaking city (and as a Greek citizen), he would have had a Hebrew name (Saul) from birth as well as a Greek name (Paul).
And he was not persecuting “Christians” because that term was not coined until some years after he too became a believer in Jesus (see Acts 9-11). Instead, Saul was persecuting fellow Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, in the midst of which he had a life-changing encounter with that same Jesus and became one of his followers too, continuing to be referred to as Saul until he began his mission to the Gentiles, at which time he was called Paul (see Acts 13:1-9).
It is absolutely true that Jesus opened the door for Jew and Gentile to worship together in one spiritual family (without Gentiles having to become Jews or Jews having to become Gentiles), that he did something radically new when he died for our sins and rose from the dead, and that this new expression of faith could not be contained within traditional walls.
At the same time, throughout history, the “Church” has always suffered when it lost sight of its Jewish roots, just as Paul warned in Romans 11 (see 11:17-25), since the building can only be as strong as its foundations.
So, in the midst of this Christmas season, let us never forget the Jewishness of Jesus.
It is only because he is the Messiah of Israel that he is the Savior of the world.
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