This year, I have a different type of challenge for you; it’s my gift to you! I hope that it will be received in the spirit of love that it was intended. This year has been a growing life changer for me, as I attempt to follow my Leader, the Lord Yeshua and Christmas will be quite different from now on. I am going to share my thoughts over the next two months. I hope that you will participate. Please respond to this blog, join our discussion groups via phone conference, or let me know if you want me to teach a web study on this topic, for your group, or church.
Many of you know that I have been involved in a Ph.D. program that examines the Jewish roots of Jesus (not His real name) in an effort to enable more authentic discipleship. My journey began before I took this course of study, back in 2006. I took a course in Christian History that surprised me. That course began to open my eyes about the reality of the church in such a way that it has lead me to critically think through and question everything I believe about Christianity in order to know truth. The reason to question is not to undermine faith, or to question G_d, but to strengthen my faith by rooting out ideas that did not come from Scripture, Yeshua, and/or the Biblical Authors. Along the way I found that there were many things that I was taught were not actually biblical but more often ideas spun from philosophers, apologists, and other theologians attempting to make sense of their own faith, and often neglecting the context of the Bible they said they were interpreting. Understanding how certain ideas came to be, and learning about the historical origins these ideas, soon showed me that we should not just “take as gospel”, everything we hear in Church or in Christian circles, as the adage says Caveat Emptor! Let the buyer beware! I do not think I will ever be the same again. The Jesus I am just beginning to know, looks nothing like the Jesus that was sold to me. He is NO less than what I was told, but He is much, much more…and most Christians are missing out, perhaps to their own peril.
One of the things that I thought I knew, but never really critically thought through, is that Jesus, my Savior, was Jewish. Let that sink in. Jesus was NOT Christian, He was/is Jewish. That is more than race, more than genetics; it is a way of life. It includes ethnicity, but also includes culture, religion, ethics and really an entire worldview that differs from what we know in the U.S. as Christianity. We pay lip service to the fact that Jesus was Jewish. We pretend that He really wasn’t, and we try to make HIM into the Jesus we want Him to be.
I am sure that you’ve heard this before. The usual answer is, so what? That was a long time ago and now HIS CHURCH is moving forward to make sure that all are “saved”. The Church is the new paradigm, we have the New Testament, and the New Mandate! We need to press on with the message of the Gospel. The problem is that the Gospel we are spreading might NOT be the Gospel at all, but rather some replacement of the real Gospel, and a made up version of Jesus. THAT is a problem, because if we are spreading the wrong gospel, or one that would be foreign to Jesus and the Disciples, then we could be the people Jesus is talking about when He says, in Matthew 7:21….”Be Gone! I never Knew You!” If Jesus said that He did nothing but what the Father told Him to do, and He told us, if you love me, OBEY my commandments, then we need to see what those commandments are. Just to love God and others like yourself, in any way you see fit, might NOT be what He had in mind… How much do you really know about the Jewish Jesus? What do you think His religion was? How closely did He follow Second Temple Rabbinic Judaism, the Judaism of his time? How much about that have you been taught? What about the Sabbath, what about the festivals, what about the idea that Jesus was telling His disciples to celebrate Passover, “in remembrance of me”? What was baptism to Jesus? What things did Jesus really change? Why did the early believers worship in Synagogues? Why did they leave? Did they celebrate Christmas? No? Why not? What is a Yarhzeit? Why is it important? Are you sure? Have you read the history?
Let that sink in…..most of us have NOT read the history. Most of us go on the assumption that what we learn in church is the absolute Biblical Truth. Newsflash! It might not be. It might be handed down doctrine that has not been questioned much, so how much do you know about your own beliefs? How do you get your Biblical understanding…is that Kool Aid you are drinking? How’s it taste?
I am going to give you a link, and if you are brave enough, you might read the article. WARNING, this is not for children, nor is it for people who are weak in their faith and worship the traditions of men and not the things of God. It will challenge your idea of what Christmas is all about…it will make you think twice or maybe ten times……ask yourself, how does this holiday honor Jesus? What would HE think about its origin, its practice and its authenticity? Would He want you to do this? or something else?
This article was written by one of Jesus’ own people, a Jew. These are the people Jesus loved, and lived for. These are the people He called His own.
Oh, I forgot! Merry Christmas….and a thoughtful and more faithful New Year!