So what?!? Gulp—here you’ve shared what you’d been told is all the tried-and-true ways to share the Gospel with your Jewish friend. You’ve memorized or have had a cheat sheet with all the prophecies, and maybe even told them you’ve observed some of their holidays. But what if they come back to you with a “So what?”? Oy vey. What next?
As a Jewish woman who has believed in Jesus for over 30 years now, I’m hoping my story will offer some insight. Before getting to my story, I would like to share an excerpt from the sequel to my novel, Naomi, the Rabbi’s Wife. This sequel will be published toward the end of this year, and is entitled Apple of God’s Eye. The following is said to a rabbi of a messianic congregation. The man speaking is Ezra, an Israeli man who has also embraced Jesus as his Messiah.
“Years and years ago, I was meeting with a Jewish woman. She let me show her all the messianic prophecies, and I convinced her I was still Jewish, showed her how I celebrated the holidays, all the things we think we need to do. Daniel, do you know what she told me? She said, ‘okay already, I get it. He’s the Messiah—but so what?’ You hear that, Daniel—she asked ‘so what?’ Ever since that time, I’ve known why we are to preach Christ and Him crucified. The Gospel, Daniel, the Gospel. If anyone—Jew, the same as with Gentile, if the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict you of sin, if your heart is not pierced to know God Himself came and died to pay for your sins, knowing that no good work, no lighting candles on Shabbat, no kiddush, no reciting the Shema, all the rituals, then the heart hasn’t been reached. Only knowing the Lamb of God sacrificed Himself for you, making it personal, seeing the sin in your own heart, that’s when a heart is reached. Studying Daniel’s reaction, Ezra asked, “My brother, have you ever confessed that your righteousness will never fulfill God’s law and thanked Yeshua for what He did for you? Have you let Him into your heart?”
Let me tell you why this is so personal to me. Thirty-two years ago, a man began telling me I needed Jesus. The man telling me this had a strong German accent. At first, I truthfully reacted, “yeah, right, here’s this Nazi telling me, a Jew, that I need his God—really?” Yet when this man spoke of God (German accent or not), I could tell he was speaking of a very personal God. He knew His Name—his God was so specific, whereas my concept of God went from being a judge in judge’s robes, sitting on a cloud with a giant gavel to whack me, or as I grew older I embraced the concept that God was ‘ya know, like an energy.’ Whether a judge or some spark of energy, it didn’t answer the longing in my heart. I wanted this personal God I was hearing about.
One night, during this time, I kneeled on the floor by my bed, as my Yiddishe Mama had taught me, and prayed—hoping my words were going beyond the ceiling in my New York City apartment. I prayed, “God, tell me about Jesus. Am I supposed to believe in Him?” And, wow, if my words went beyond the ceiling, would He hit me with lightning for even saying that Name?
God did hear and answered in a way I would not have expected. For about the next month I grew more and more desperate for a true connection with God. My German friend had told me that Jesus died to save me from my sins, which at first I completely rejected. Sin–isn’t that a Catholic kinda thing? I had considered myself a survivor. Many in my circle of friends had gone over the edge, never to return (drugs, and other destructive lifestyles), but I always escaped before it was too late. After my prayer asking to basically know who Jesus was, God caused me to see Who deserved the credit for my survival. It was not mine to take. It was always Him—and what if He let go? I knew the answer: then I would fall into the abyss like my unfortunate friends. I needed Him—to save me not just from my sins, but from myself.
After this month of desperation, I prayed with my German friend to ask Jesus to be my Lord and my Savior. Until that time I had tried reading the Bible and the words on the page simply stayed there—ink on a piece of paper. Yet after this prayer, when I started reading the Gospel of John, the ink became my lifeblood?
A few days after saying this prayer and reading the Gospel of John, falling more and more in love with Jesus, I was taken to a church. When introduced there, one woman heard my last name (Bernstein at the time), and exclaimed, “Oh honey, you have found your Messiah!” In amazement, I answered, “Really, is that Who He is?”
GROWING UP I HAD ALWAYS HEARD THAT THE MESSIAH WAS THE ONE WE WERE WAITING FOR, BUT ON THAT DAY I DISCOVERED JESUS WAS ALSO THE VERY ONE MY HEART WAS WAITING FOR (ACTUALLY LONGING FOR).