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Yeshua in Context » Divinity of Yeshua, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua » Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question.

Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question.

Here is another mini eBook in the making: Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question. This is also the basis of a podcast that will be posted today on iTunes and at DerekLeman.com.

A friend recently said to me, “Jews are better Christians than Christians.” He was referring first of all to the ethic of Jesus about healing and serving and making this world like the world to come. His claim was that the Jewish community does these things better than Christians. Second of all, he was referring to statistics about charitable giving and service work and those who engage in them. The Jewish community, far in excess of our smaller population, out-gives Christians in the work of feeding, clothing, providing medical aid, and so on all over the world.

He followed this up with a bigger point. Who needs Yeshua? That is, given Judaism — and the wealth of information and tradition about God, ethics, the world to come that Judaism provides — who needs Yeshua? What does Yeshua add to Jewish faith and life?

Instead of turning to an afterlife formula — a typical evangelical Christian idea that Jews need Yeshua or they will be judged eternally in the life to come — I wanted to discuss other reasons Yeshua is needed. I leave the question of final destinies, who is included and who is excluded in the life to come, for others to wrangle over. The question is far from settled in terms of biblical theology, in my opinion, and the evangelical certainty that all but those who explicitly declare faith in Jesus are doomed in the life to come is overblown.

But even if hopelessness in the afterlife without Yeshua is the truth, is that and should that be the only reason Yeshua is needed? Is Yeshua nothing more than “my personal savior,” or a savior who makes no difference in this life but only in the life to come?

The following is at least the beginning of a catalogue of the benefits of knowing Yeshua, assuming already a knowledge of the God of Israel and the ethics of Torah and prophets and rabbis. I will first list the general categories and then expound on them in some detail:

  • Yeshua is the Moses-like Prophet-to-Come, the New Moses, whose agency as the Voice of the Father reveals depths of God unknown or ambiguous in previous revelation.
  • Yeshua is the Beloved Son whose Union with the Father makes greater union with God possible for those who are in Yeshua (in kabbalistic terms, he makes union with the Ein Sof possible).
  • Yeshua is the Dibbur (Word, Memra) made human, the Incarnate Shechinah, joining humanity and deity (note: those who say this is impossible for Judaism to accept must explain how any manifestation or dwelling of God is possible as taught in the Torah).
  • Yeshua gives us a clearer picture of the world to come (kingdom of God), making more specific what was ambiguous and affirming bodily resurrection (not reincarnation) and giving a specific organization and working plan for living now as we wait for the kingdom to fully overtake the cosmos.
  • Yeshua is, in his person, the completion of the future hope themes of the Torah, prophets, and writings: he is Messiah in the full sense of meaning captured by that term, the One who brings near to God, Ideal Israel, the Son of Abraham, and the Paragon of Prophetic hope.
  • Yeshua’s atoning death makes possible what was impossible in the Temple sanctuary: for people to be in the Presence of God without the separation of barriers like the Veil (parochet) or incense or the mediation of prophets like Moses. This direct access is vital preparation for the world to come.
  • Yeshua has broken through the problem of death in his resurrection, which is a sign of the coming resurrection at the end of the age. The kingdom or world to come has been inaugurated and our faith in it is made easier by the historical witness of those who saw the empty tomb and the appearances (note: it is inconsistent to believe Sinai is historical and doubt the resurrection).
  • Yeshua is enthroned beside the Father, is the appointed Judge at the end of the age, is High Priest to all Israel and the nations, and to know him is to have greater union with and knowledge of God. Prayers to God, knowingly or unknowingly, involve Yeshua as well as the Eternal (the Father, the Ein Sof). Knowing the High Priest by name is an advantage in prayer and access.
  • Yeshua is the sender of the Spirit who mediates the Living Presence of Yeshua in the community of disciples (note: the Spirit/comforter/paraclete in the fourth gospel is the vessel communicating Yeshua to his disciples after the ascension).

As a follow-up, see “Moses-Like Prophet in John.”

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Filed under: Divinity of Yeshua, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua

4 Responses to "Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question."

  1. A wonderful post! Thank you.

    I too have experienced the attitude from some Jewish friends that Yeshua is superfluous. This is largely due to rabbinic teaching which emphasizes the Talmud’s authority over the Torah. It isn’t surprising really. Once the Jerusalem authorities rejected Yeshua as the Messiah and Son of God, a whole new trajectory was set for Judaism.

  2. Carrie says:

    So where do you get these facts? What if Apolistic Writings are not valid? How do we know what the prophet like Moses will be like? Could it mean that he is a Levite? How do you know that Yeshua is sitting at God’s right hand? Where do you get the proof texts for your statements? Other than the gospels where is Yeshua’s resurrection recorded? I mean it must of been a big thing back then. Why is there not outside recoreds?I personally have great trouble with the variants of the texts which on one hand claim that Jesus delived the people out of Egypt, while another rightly credits God. Which of the many, many manuscripts are true. They can not all be true. I am searching for what exactly Yeshua’s death means to the world and how it fits in with what God says to his people in the Tanach.

    1. yeshuain says:

      Carrie:

      Your question is a good one. I was traveling and did not answer. But let me say that I was answering a different question: if we assume Judaism, what does the Yeshua of the New Testament add? The question you are asking is one I have written a little about and should write more: why should a Jewish person give credence to the story and identity of Yeshua? Plenty of reasons, in my mind. I will get around to it and I hope you keep checking out this site and my main blog at http://messianicjudaism.me/musings.

      Derek Leman

  3. Chad says:

    I don’t know of any other recordings of the resurrection other than the gospels. But on the other hand I also don’t know of any texts that disprove the resurrection by providing documented evidence of finding a corpse.

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