While listening to your broadcast last week, I heard Mark say that Jesus was Jewish. I think that statement needs to be qualified.
There are many that do not believe that Jesus was Jewish as evidenced by Jesus railing against Jews and Jewish things. If you mean to say that he was "Jewish" by virtue of the fact that he was born an Israelite, or that he was a descendent of the tribe of Judah, or that he taught in the synagogues then maybe he would qualify, but that name means something completely different today, and I believe even during the lifetime of Jesus it was not that simple and there were many qualifiers that Christians need to understand today.
I bring this up because it is very important to make distinctions about what Jews really are because the churched evangelical dispensationalists and Christian-Zionists believe that all people from ancient Israel were Jewish by blood descent from Jacob/Israel, and that that has not changed today because the media and the churches perpetrate that misconception. They believe Jew = Hebrew/Israelite.
Consider some passages from the 8th chapter of John:
31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;
33 They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free'?"
37 "I know that you are Abraham's descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.
38 "I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father."
39 They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father " Jesus said to them, "If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham.
40 "But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.
41 "You are doing the deeds of your father" They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God."
42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.
43 "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.
44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
47 "He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God."
48 The Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?"
52 The Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.'
53 "Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?"
54 Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, 'He is our God';
55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word.
56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."
57 So the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"
58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am."
59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.
This is a remarkable passage from John and should present significant problems for dispensationalist. Note that:
* The Jews claim to be descendants of Abraham, and Jesus agrees that they are.
* The Jews claim to have never been enslaved by anyone. We know the sons of Israel were enslaved in Egypt so who were these people? It is believed that the Hasmoneans played a large rule in the priestly class at the time of Christ, and some were descendants of Edomites (who were descendants of Esau son of Isaac not Jacob) that converted to Judaism under Johan Hycanus about 125 years earlier. We know king Harrod who was considered Jewish was Edomite, and despised because he was considered a foreigner and not a true Jew.
* Jesus calls the Jews liars, and murderers and sons of the father of lies... the devil. He also says they act as their evil nature dictates. Did he say this because of what their blood line was or because of their religion?
* The Jews accuse Jesus of having a demon and being a Samaritan which was a slur. Did they recognize Jesus as a Jew? No, they accused him of breaking Jewish law.
* The Jews sought to kill Jesus.
* Christians should not believe that Jesus suffered from any misconceptions about the nature of Jews, Pharisees, or Abraham. He definitely knew of which he spake.
Elsewhere he compared them to attractive looking graves full of dead mans bones. He also called them imposters, and in the book of Revelations Jesus speaking to the church warns about those deceivers of the synagogue of Satan.
"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: 'I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Revelations 2: 8-9
I reiterate that the distinctions need to be made clear and clearly taught because the lies and liars that Jesus identified have succeeded in seducing the church of Jesus Christ
to our peril.
It is simple to conclude that to be a Jew was not so much because of blood, but because of the religion that you believed in. I believe that Palestine at the time of Christ was very much a multicultural mix of numerous races, languages, and ethnicities from numerous places around the world just as we are in America today, and not dominantly ethnic Hebrew or Israelite. But the "church" of the land was dominantly Jewish. Even at the advent of Christ, many centuries of conquest, exile, and settlement from Persians, Greeks, Romans, Assyrians, Babylonians, etc. left their genetic signature on the people of that land including most of the so called Jews.
Further, to be a Jew really meant that it was your religion by decree of the powerful ruling priestly class. Just as 85% of Americans today claim to be Christian by virtue of belief, so It was with the Jews. Jesus certainly did not subscribe to Judaism, but condemned certain practices and railed against those that represented it... so I ask you, was Jesus really a Jew?
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