“They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs and from them, according to the flesh comes the Messiah…” (Rom. 9:3-5)
A few summers ago my wife and I visited the Holy Land. On our first night in Jerusalem we went to the Western Wall.
After being there for about twenty minutes I caught the attention of a 30-something man. I said, “May I ask you a question?” He said, “What?”
I said, “Would you please tell me what praying at this wall means to you?” He said, “Why should I answer you?”
I said, “I’m a Christian and I think we haven’t always lived into the fifth commandment by honoring our parents—that is the Jews—in our faith.” His whole demeanor changed, and we talked for about thirty minutes.
The encouragement I offer today is what I said to that man: the Jews are our parents in faith. As Paul so clearly says in today’s scripture: to the Jews belongs the whole background of our faith as Christians, and from the Jews the Messiah came. The first two-thirds of our bible are the Hebrew Scriptures. So many of Jesus’ stories had Jewish background. He went to the temple in Jerusalem. He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. He practiced Passover.
Did Jesus make changes? Yes. Did He interpret the Sabbath laws differently than the Pharisees? Yes. Do we believe that He was and is the fulfillment of the Jewish expectations for a Messiah, while they don’t? Yes. Did He come to start a New Covenant? Yes. No matter what differences we have with the Jews, Jesus would never want us to dishonor His roots, background, and origins in faith.
I encourage us to honor our parents in the faith, even with the important disagreements we might have with them. We honor them by praying for them, by thanking them for their faithfulness, and by denouncing all forms of prejudice against them. And we need to bless them, for from them came the Messiah of the world.
- Do you remember that Jesus was Jewish? What are the ways you could show that you are grateful for His roots, His background, His foundation in faith?
- Picture a Jewish person in your life. What would you think about finding the right way and right time to thank them for being your “parents” in your faith?
- Jesus will never be attractive to any Jewish person when we are ugly to them. What could you do to make Jesus more attractive to others?