How not to witness to a Jew

Even with the fires of the Christian Inquisitions or the pitchforks of the pogroms and other threats of Hell, you could never have convinced me as a Jew that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, or the answer to humanity’s problems. There was no argument whatsoever, theological or historical, that you could have used to convince or alter my perspective, period. But there was one that penetrated my armor.

Back in 1977 when I was teaching English to a group of secretaries in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I once arrived to the office late and completely unprepared for the lesson. In a minor panic I glanced around the bookshelf for a subject to open a simple conversation.My eye immediately lighted upon a book titled Jesus. I looked around the room at my seated students and asked one, ”Maria, do you believe in Jesus?” She smiled sweetly and said, “Yes.” I then went on and queried, “Why?” to which she replied, “Because I have peace”- and then she laughed. She laughed, and then without another word I quickly changed the subject.

When I left the office that evening it was that laugh that followed me home.  Why had she laughed? She did not laugh because she was embarrassed or because it was funny. It was a laugh that sparkled like pure water gushing from a fresh spring and bubbling over the rocks of a brook. And it had something to do with Jesus. For months that laugh followed me and haunted me. Where had that laugh come from?

Whenever I laughed I was quickly stopped by Maria’s laughter echoing in my mind. In contrast, mine seemed cynical and bitter, full of mockery and pain, like a polluted drain in contrast with her refreshing freshet of joy. It troubled me no end, until I could no longer bear to listen to my own sour laughter.

It was not too long afterward that the Source of that laugh opened like a spring rain pouring over my head. It was a deep and flowing laughter pouring directly from Heaven, from He only who could convince me of such an unlikely reality of Truth. And there, in the most unlikely of places, in the midst of the Carnival in Salvador Brazil, did this Jew encounter that eternal Spring of love.  And in that embrace did I break into uncontrollable tears of joy, realizing that Jesus, the King of the Jews, lives!

Things have never been the same to this day forty years later, here in the city of Jerusalem, where that rich and fragrant laughter continues to be heard in the streets of the Holy City where the Messiah, King of the Jews, died and rose from death to eternal Life!