Christ Through the Eyes of the Jews

Artwork by Elhanan ben-Avraham

Is there an unbridgeable chasm between the Jewish people and the Messiah?

“If that’s the Good News, then what’s the Bad News?”- the Jew

Most Jews of my generation were raised on the Holocaust, its horrific images seared into our minds like hot brands. Our grandparents who had escaped told us of the concentration camps and the extermination machines. These were horrors perpetrated upon our people by intelligent and cultured Germans, allegedly a Lutheran Christian nation, inspired by the devout Christian Martin Luther himself in his “The Jews and Their  Lies.”  Even the belt buckles of the Nazi storm trooper of the Wehrmacht read, “Gott mit Uns” (God with us), and Christmas carols were sung as they exterminated millions of Jewish people.

Few are they among the Jewish people who do not know of the Catholic Inquisitions that tortured and drove Jews from their homes from the 15th to the 19th centuries, and the Pogroms perpetrated by those of the Russian Orthodox Church, and of the expulsion of all Jews from England.  Many of our parents had to change their family names in order to get jobs and be accepted in society. Many of us in our own experience had to fight those who called us “Christ killers,” or told us to “Go back to Israel where you belong.”

And those Jews who follow Judaism and familiar with the Scriptures know it is written, “There is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me…people may know there is none besides me… Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one…I am YHVH, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself…you are my witnesses, declares YHVH, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he, Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me,  I, even I, am YHVH, and apart from me there is no savior… I am YHVH, and there is no other, I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I YHVH do all these things…YHVH is my name and memorial forever to all your generations.”   And at the very center of Judaism, “Hear O Israel, YHVH our God YHVH is one”- not three.

That is a formidable and great chasm to leap across for the Jew to find the Messiah in Yeshua of Nazareth.  A well-intentioned missionary might be answered by an educated Jew, “Your God is a Jewish man. He has a God, whereas our God does not. And which one of your hundreds of disputing denominations actually has the right theology? Ours is simple, that all understand, HaShem is one, and we shall not have any other gods before Him.”

Let’s face it, the Jewish people have for the most part resisted the claims of Christianity for two millennia.  With such a thick wall of reasons to not believe, how may the knowledge of Yeshua possibly succeed to reach the Jew?

In my own case, considering all the above, it was a whole hearted search for truth that led me to a direct encounter.  I had never considered the claims of Christianity, nor the possibility of Jesus being more than a good Jew, though I had no antipathy toward him.  My search for truth would lead me on a one-way trip around the world for some nine years, encountering virtually all faiths, philosophies and superstitions. I would not read the Bible, as I did not wish to be influenced, but would search a direct discovery of Truth, whatever it may be, no matter what the cost.  But it was only that direct encounter with the sovereign Creator of the Universe, not by the hand of well-intended men which I could easily refute, nor in the confines of any church, but in the unlikely place and time of the primitive pagan Carnival in Salvador, Brazil, that would ultimately convince me. Nothing before or since has been as convincing. Only then did the Bible begin to make sense.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”- (Jeremiah 29:13). It is an affair of love, not a tepid whim of passing curiosity, as the beautiful woman knowing which of her suitors truly loves her to open her heart, so is it with YHVH, who said, “You will love YHVH your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all that you have.”

With such a formidable wall and moat and fortress of scars, I believe it will take nothing less than a direct encounter to convince the Jew.  All we can do, as is written in Isaiah, “Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.” Gather out the stones of stumbling from before the eyes and hearts of the Jewish people, that the Lord Himself might enter and be seen in the Holy writings of Israel, and the Jewish people say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHVH”.

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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.