What Do You Say to Your Jewish Friends about Jesus? - page 1


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From the Fall 2015 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

What Do You Say to Your Jewish Friends about Jesus?

by Randy Newman, Ph.D.
Senior Teaching Fellow for Apologetics and Evangelism, C.S. Lewis Institute



o, you’ve got Jewish friends and you want to talk to them about Jesus. You’ve read Gerald McDermott’s article about Judaism, and you’re wondering how to start connecting what you know about Judaism, what you love about Jesus, and how you long for your Jewish friends to make that connection as well. But something is holding you back. Perhaps you’re afraid you’ll spoil the friendship. Or perhaps you feel guilty that some Christians have treated some Jewish people poorly in the past. Or maybe you just don’t know your Old Testament as well as you’d like, and you’re afraid they’ll out-quote you.
  All of these fears and concerns make sense. But God is able to override them and many other impediments to our fluency. Here are some pointers for telling your Jewish friends about the Jewish Messiah and the salvation He offers.
  First and foremost, pray for your Jewish friends. Please don’t dismiss this as a perfunctory cliché. Since God loves the Jewish people, it makes sense that the devil hates them and, in addition to concocting an endless stream of anti-Semitism in the world, has blinded them to the truth God has revealed (see 2 Cor. 3:14). Pray diligently that God will work in the hearts of the Jewish people to make them hungry for truth, tired of empty ritual, and aching for forgiveness that cannot come from their own efforts, prayers, or practices.
  Now, allow me to share some don’ts and do’s of Jewish evangelism. (I know. It’s usually “do’s and don’ts,” but, given the realities of Jewish history, is it any wonder that I, a Jewish believer in Jesus, would gravitate toward the negative before turning toward the positive.Think about it.)


  Don’t think that Jewish evangelism is going to be easy. My people have had a long history of saying no! to anything even closely related to Jesus. And given the behavior of some of Jesus’ followers, you can’t really blame them. (I know that some so-called Christians really were never born again. Granted. The problem is that some real, genuine, saved, thoughtful Christians have said and done some hateful things. Do a little research about Martin Luther’s anti-Semitism, and you’ll see what I mean.)
  Don’t be surprised if your Jewish friends don’t know their Tanakh (what Christians call the Old Testament) all that well. Don’t assume they know much about Moses, Isaiah, or other prophets. We could discuss why that’s true and why it’s a shame and how it got this way, but I’ll leave that for other writers or other times.


  Don’t wait for your Jewish friends to bring up the topic of Jesus. They won’t. Don’t even wait for them to bring up the topic of God. He might not get mentioned for a long time. In fact, don’t wait for them to talk about spiritual things at all. You might be waiting when you should be guiding the conversation. God’s Word makes it clear that the gospel is “to the Jew first” (Rom. 1:16 ESV). That’s all the prompting we need to broach the topic they’d rather you avoid.

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