FRIENDS SHARING GOOD NEWS WITH FRIENDS
The Apostle John gives a good summary of witnessing in his first epistle: “the life [of Jesus] was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you . . . that which we have seen and heard . . .” (1 John 1:2-3). Effective witnessing is telling what one has seen and/or heard–much as a witness in a legal case gives a testimony. But witnessing to a Jewish person goes far beyond reciting the facts of the Gospel message. Witnessing must become a dialogue between two individuals, each with mutual respect and a genuine interest in the well being of the other. Because the best witness is the witness of a friend or close relation (see John 1:40-45), the first step in sharing the Gospel with a Jewish person is to develop a friendship. Your witness will do best as it grows naturally out of a deepening relationship.
Don’t befriend a Jewish person merely to “get him saved,” however. The person will sense this and feel you are only interested in him as a project or trophy. Let your friendship and love be genuine. It must not rise or fall on your friend’s response to the Gospel.
Witnessing encounters with strangers are certainly wonderful opportunities, but this guide describes a witness that takes place within the context of a growing relationship. (And, for editorial efficiency, we are using “him” to refer to the person to whom you may be witnessing about the person of Jesus.)
TRY TO UNDERSTAND YOUR JEWISH FRIEND
It is important to understand your Jewish friend’s mindset towards the Gospel message. What is to you a beautifully clear story of redemption actually presents several deep-rooted obstacles to your Jewish friend. Here are a few simple points that can help you be more sensitive:
Have you noticed that Jewish people are frequently negative towards Christianity? You might be too if your people had been persecuted over the centuries in “Christian countries” and in the name of Christ! Many Jewish people believe that to become a Christian is to side with those who have mistreated his people. This is tantamount to treachery to one’s ancestors.
- Jewish people cannot comprehend how a person can be a Jew and a Christian at the same time. They presume that if they accept Jesus they can no longer be Jewish.
- Jewish people are not especially religious. Most modern Jews value the traditional and cultural elements of their heritage more than the religious.
- Jewish people are taught to reject certain essential teachings of the Bible such as the Trinity, the deity of the Messiah, and the Second Coming of Jesus.
- Jewish people are not especially familiar with the Old Testament. Most would question whether the Bible was even inspired by God. Orthodox Jews do accept the Scriptures, but most modern and secular Jewish people do not accept the divine authority of their own Old Testament.
- Most Jewish people are surprised to hear that Jesus was Jewish and the New Testament was written by Jews. They view the New Testament as a “non-Jewish” book that has spawned another world religion. Some even think Jesus was a nice Jewish boy who converted to Christianity!
- Jewish people intuitively know that if they were to consider Jesus, their families and friends would not understand them, and some might even disown them. We see an example of this in John 9, where the Jewish leaders threatened the parents of the blind man with excommunication if they acknowledged that Jesus had healed their son.
Your Jewish friend might have other objections to the Gospel as well. He might be an agnostic or even an atheist. He might not believe in God or even in the coming of the Messiah. Before you present the Gospel, you might need to begin by establishing evidence about the existence of God and the reliability of the Bible.
Besides these particularly Jewish dynamics in witnessing, don’t forget that Scripture declares that “. . . There is none who seeks after God” (Romans 3:11). No human being, apart from the intervention of the Holy Spirit, seeks to admit his need for salvation before a holy God. So don’t let an initial rejection discourage you. Anticipate the first “no,” but then keep looking for opportunities to extend God’s love and patiently share the Gospel.
FOUR BIBLICAL PRECEPTS FOR WITNESSING
While there are no foolproof techniques for reaching your Jewish friend with the Gospel, four fundamental precepts should guide your efforts:
1. Use the Bible
The Scriptures tell us that faith comes through hearing the Word of God (see Romans 10:17). Sometimes, because Jewish people are not familiar with the New Testament or even with the Old, we tend to use reason and logic more than God’s Word. The Bible has self-authenticating authority that can touch hearts: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). The Scriptures should be the key benchmark of truth when we are witnessing.
2. Present a Person
Don’t be discouraged when your friend rejects Christianity. There is often much historical baggage involved. Just remember: the Gospel is about a Person – Jesus the Messiah. It is about a relationship, not a religion. When you distinguish between Jesus and the Jewish understanding of the Christian religion, many objections dissipate.
Your Jewish friend does not need to feel that by accepting Jesus he is giving up his Jewish identity. You are not asking him to “convert” to another religion, but to become “complete” by receiving the Jewish Messiah.
3. Watch your language
Certain words may have totally different, even offensive, meanings to your Jewish friend. Often, such words as “cross” and “Christ” bring up collective memories of persecution by so-called “Christians.” Be sensitive in your choice of words. Try using “Messiah” instead of “Christ,” “tree” instead of “cross,” and even “Yeshua” instead of “Jesus.” You want to communicate the Jewishness of the Gospel message.
4. Be a credible witness
A witness declares what he or she has seen and heard. Although you have not seen or spoken with Messiah Jesus on this earth (as did the Apostle John), you can still be a credible witness to the life-changing reality of His presence in your life. This is not so much by your verbal witness but by the witness of your life, demonstrating that the Messiah lives in and through you. In other words, witnesses should only testify about what they personally know to be true.
ICEBREAKERS TO HELP YOU GET STARTED
Some of the best opportunities to talk about the Lord happen during normal, friendly interactions. Don’t be afraid of offending your Jewish friend by bringing up the subject of your faith in Jesus.
Affirm your friend’s Jewish identity
By affirming your friend’s Jewish identity, you will be showing your love for him and making the statement that he can be Jewish and believe in Jesus!
You can do this tactfully by sending greeting cards on the Jewish holidays, showing an interest in current events that concern the Jewish people and especially by showing some sensitivity to what is happening in Israel.
Many of the Jewish holidays, such as Passover and the Fall Feasts, appear in the New Testament and can give you an opportunity to present the Gospel. Your friend will be intrigued that your belief in Jesus gives you an appreciation for Jewish heritage. Chosen People Ministries has materials available to help you be a more effective witness by incorporating a spiritual understanding of the Jewish holidays.
Share your testimony
Tell your Jewish friend that you believe in the Jewish Messiah, and then tell him what Jesus has done for you! This will be especially powerful if you are a Gentile and have accepted the Lord as an adult. Showing how even a Gentile needed to accept Jesus will counter the idea that Christians are simply “born into the religion.” Your friend may realize for the first time that this relationship is entered into by faith and not merely by birth. Go ahead and tell him that God did not make you stop being Italian, Norwegian or Oklahoman, and that he doesn’t have to stop being Jewish!
Look for an area of need
Your Jewish friend might tell you about a problem. This is the time to bring up an appropriate Scripture or even to pray for him. Perhaps you can suggest a Christian book that addresses the problem. Let him know ahead of time that the book is written from a Christian perspective, so that there are no surprises. Follow up later to get his opinion on the book’s contents.
Invite your friend to church
Don’t be afraid of inviting your Jewish friend to a special event at church that might interest him – perhaps a special speaker, video series, or musical event. You can offer to attend synagogue in return. Just the act of inviting him may open up opportunities to share your faith.
Ask direct questions
You might find that jumping in and asking thoughtful questions works for you. Here are some ideas:
- As a Jewish person, how do you practise your religion?
- How often do you read the Bible? What role does it play in your life?
- What do you believe about the Messiah?
Introduce your friend to a Jewish believer
Another way to tell your Jewish friend about Jesus is to introduce him to Jewish believers. There are many ways to do this. You can contact Chosen People Ministries, as we are in touch with a worldwide network of Jewish people who believe in Jesus, many of whom would be more than willing to meet your Jewish friend.
We can also tell you about Messianic meetings in various areas so you can accompany your Jewish friend to a Bible study or service that is Jewish in character, where, of course, Jesus is lifted up as Messiah and Saviour. If you cannot take advantage of these opportunities, you can still introduce your friend to Jewish believers through written testimonies.
You can request a free I Found Shalom booklet, or you can experience our I found Shalom video testimonies. Our Jewish storytellers will invite you into their lives and you will see through their eyes and experiences why they decided to become followers of Yeshua and the resulting profound impact this decision had on each of them as individuals. You will smile, laugh and at times be moved to tears by these compelling stories.
There are many ways to make it clear to your Jewish friends that your hope for them is to enter into a relationship with the living God through Jesus the Messiah. You are not trying to convert them to another religion! By God’s grace, your Jewish friend will see that belief in Jesus is the most Jewish belief he can have!
PRESENTING THE GOSPEL FROM THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES
Once you establish a friendship, and are sensitive to your Jewish friend’s special needs, you can present the Gospel in a number of different ways. There is no “right” or “wrong” way. After all, you are not witnessing to “the Jews,” but to an individual Jewish person who has ideas, needs, and personal thoughts and questions about the meaning of life.
Studying the Gospels
It’s always a good idea to encourage your friend to read the Bible on his own. If your friend is interested in studying the Bible with you, a good place to begin is the Gospel of Matthew, which was written especially to the Jewish people. In Matthew, he will not only see Jesus as the Messiah, but will discover many Old Testament passages about the Messiah which Matthew quotes (at least 47 references, most of them Messianic). You might also try the Gospel of John, as it will enable your friend to grapple with the teachings of Jesus.
When you study the Gospels with your Jewish friend, be sure to go slowly, explaining the meaning of unfamiliar theological terms. Go back to the Old Testament when the Gospel writers quote it. Be sensitive to the Jewish issues involved – the controversies with Jewish leaders, the celebration of Jewish holidays. Point out how Jewish the New Testament really is!
Studying Messianic prophecy
Another good way to study is to review Old Testament Messianic prophecy–which paints a picture of the Messiah–and then look to the New Testament for the fulfillment of those prophecies. Remember, your Jewish friend is beginning his study with little background, even in the Old Testament. Begin with some of the major Messianic prophecies.
Try to point out the context of the passages and allow your friend to discover many of the truths for himself. Ask questions as you go over the text. Let your friend read the passage and see if he can answer some questions you ask of the text. “To what does the prophet refer?” “Who fits that description?” These questions will help your Jewish friend grapple with the text and come to his own conclusions.
Encourage your friend to use his own Jewish Bible if he has one. Be aware, though, that the order of the books is different, and some verses are numbered slightly differently as well (we will note it when there is a difference).
We will now briefly outline some major Messianic prophecies. Try not to present too many of them at once. Your Jewish friend will need some time to “digest” the information before you go on!
The origin and birthplace of the Messiah
Prophecy: Micah 5:2 (5:1 in the Jewish Bible)
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
Fulfilment: Matthew 2:1
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem . . . .”
This verse is brimming with substantial links to the Jesus of the New Testament. First, Bethlehem Ephrathah was the Bethlehem in the territory of the tribe of Judah, five miles south of Jerusalem (see Ruth 1:2). There was another Bethlehem just northwest of Nazareth, but the birthplace of the Ruler was to be Bethlehem of Judah-and so it was (see Matthew 2:1and Luke 2:4-7). It is clear that the Jews knew that the Messiah could not come from Nazareth, but that He would come from Bethlehem, the city of David (John 7:42).
The one born there was to be Ruler in Israel. When Pontius Pilate asked Jesus if He was the King of the Jews, He affirmed the title (Luke 23:3). But just claiming to be an earthly king alone would not qualify Jesus as the Messiah, for the Messiah must be from everlasting (literally, from “days of eternity”). When Jesus declared that “before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58), the Jewish people understood Him to be saying that he was from eternity-as their attempt to stone Him demonstrates. By His statement “I AM” (not “I was”) He identifies Himself with the God of Israel, who also called Himself “I AM” (Exodus 3:14).
The birth, ministry, and victory of Messiah
Prophecy: Genesis 3:15
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
Fulfilment: Galatians 4:4; Matthew 27:62-63; 1 John 3:8
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman ” (Galatians 4:4).
“On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, ‘Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how [He] said, ‘After three days I will rise’” (Matthew 27:62-63).
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
The prophecy in Genesis 3:15 is the first Messianic prophecy in the Bible. It is spoken by God Himself to the serpent, Satan, who had successfully tempted Eve into disobeying God. In prophesying the ultimate demise of Satan, God said that the woman would bring forth a seed (a descendant) who would be at enmity with Satan. Was Jesus born of a woman? In addition to Galatians 4:4, the narratives concerning Jesus’ nativity give ample evidence that He was born to Mary, the wife of Joseph of Nazareth.
As to enmity with Satan, the most notable of their confrontations occurred in the wilderness at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 4:1-12). In fact, this enmity resulted in the death of the Messiah. God allowed His sacrificial purpose for His Son to be fulfilled. But, as Genesis 3:15 predicted, Messiah’s wounding was not a final wound, since He rose from the dead as He Himself predicted (Matthew 27:63).
Finally, the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 is completed in the ultimate destruction of Satan and his works by Messiah Jesus. The Apostle John testifies that Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan, to wield a death blow, as God said in Genesis. Revelation 20:10 depicts the final victory of the Seed of the woman over the serpent.
A descendant of Abraham
Prophecy: Genesis 12:1-3
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”
Fulfilment: Matthew 1:1
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of Abraham.”
In the most general sense, it is obvious from the Old Testament that God chose Abraham to begin a heritage that would ultimately be a blessing not only to Israel but to the entire earth. Specifically, we know from Isaiah 42:1-8 that the way in which God would bless the Gentile nations of the earth was through His Servant, the Messiah. Therefore, whoever claimed to be the Messiah of Israel must be One Who was descended from Abraham, and whose ministry included not only the nation of Israel but the Gentiles as well.
Matthew clearly records in the genealogy of Jesus that He is a descendant of Abraham. He obviously ministered to Jewish people during His earthly life, but also specifically to Gentiles (for example, a Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28, and a Roman soldier in Matthew 8:5-13). He sent out 72 of His disciples to preach the Gospel, a number which many believe parallels the list of nations in Genesis 10. Finally, when Jesus called Saul of Tarsus to be an Apostle, His specific commission to Saul (renamed Paul) was to “bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:5,15).
From the Tribe of Judah
Prophecy – Genesis 49:10
“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.”
Fulfilment – Luke 3:33
“the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah.”
From the first prophecy given to Abraham, the line of promise progressed through Isaac and then through Isaac’s son, Jacob. Now on his deathbed, Jacob prepares to prophesy over his twelve sons, to tell them what will happen to them in days to come (Genesis 49:1). Jacob prophesies that the descendants of Judah will forever be the ones through whom kingship will pass. Therefore, the Messiah must be a descendant of Judah, which He was, as the New Testament verifies (Matthew 1:2-3; Luke 3:33).
Interestingly, the last king of Judah, Zedekiah, is told by God through the prophet Ezekiel to remove his crown that it might be restored to the One to Whom it rightfully belongs–obviously the anticipated Messiah (Ezekiel 21:25-27).
From the house of David
Prophecy – 2 Samuel 7:12-13
“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
Fulfilment – Luke 3:31
“…the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David.”
This prophecy, spoken to David, traces the Messianic line to one of his descendants. This prophecy refers in part to David’s son, King Solomon, but the dynasty that is established is Davidic. Messiah would have to be a person from the tribe of Judah and from the House of David. This perpetual dynasty of the House of David–and Jesus’ fulfillment of the dynastic promises–is one of the best-attested Messianic relationships in all the Bible (see Psalm 89:30-38; Isaiah 9:1-7; Matthew 1:1; Luke 1:31-33, 69; Acts 2:30; 13:23; Romans 1:2-3; 2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 3:7; 22:16).
Born of a virgin
Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
Fulfilment: Matthew 1:18, 22-23
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit . So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’”
This passage, which should be carefully studied in context, is a direct prophecy of the virgin birth of the Messiah (Luke 1:26-27). Your friend might notice that the translators of the Jewish Bible use the word “young woman” instead of “virgin.” It is important to note that culturally, the Hebrew word “almah” almost always referred to an unmarried young woman–which in Isaiah’s day implied virginity. In addition, the authors of the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament completed before Christ, translated this word as “virgin,” which was its meaning in biblical Hebrew. Given the very explicit reference to this verse by Matthew (1:22-23), there can be no question that Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus, completely fulfilled this prophecy about the birth of Messiah.
The child’s name, Immanuel, which means “God with us,” indicates His deity. In the Bible, people’s names describe their identity. This sheds more light on the first Messianic prophecy in Genesis 3:15, which calls Messiah the Seed of a woman.
God in the flesh
Prophecy: Isaiah 9:6-7 (9:5-6 in Hebrew)
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
Fulfilment: Matthew 1:1; John 1:14
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.”
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
These all-important names given to Messiah reveal His deity. This and the virgin birth are very critical issues with Jewish people, as Judaism does not teach that Messiah will be God. This is very clearly presented, however, in the Scriptures, and your Jewish friend needs to understand this. The four names given all point to the clear conclusion that the eternal Davidic ruler is God Himself. In fact, this is so clear that many Jewish versions of the Bible don’t even translate the names, but rather transliterate them (change the Hebrew characters into English characters) so that their meaning is not obviously seen!
If these references to the Mighty God and Everlasting Father are not enough to demonstrate that Messiah is God, the Apostle John tells us that Jesus, Who was with God, and is God, became flesh and dwelt among us. Having already established that Jesus is the descendant of Abraham and David, it is easy to see that this One Who is the Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace is Jesus, from Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 11:1-5. There, the “stump of Jesse” (Jesse being David’s father) is said to possess wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, justice, and righteousness. Who else but Jesus could this have been?
A prophet like Moses
Prophecy: Deuteronomy 18:15
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren.”
Fulfilment: John 6:14
“Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, ‘This is truly “the Prophet” who is to come into the world.’”
It is clear from the context of Deuteronomy 18:15-22 that not just one prophet was meant by Moses, but a succession of prophets who would culminate in the Messiah – “the Prophet” of Israel. By the time John the Baptist comes on the scene as the forerunner to Messiah, there was intense anticipation in Israel about the Prophet to come. The Jewish leaders asked John the Baptist if he was the prophet, to which he replied, “No” (John 1:21-25). When Philip began to follow Jesus, he recognized Him as the One that Moses wrote about in the Law (John 1:44-45). Jesus went on to claim that He was the One Moses wrote about (John 5:46), and many others affirmed this (John 6:14; 7:40). After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, both Peter and Stephen declared to the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the Prophet, the Messiah, about whom Moses wrote (Acts 3:22-26; 7:37). Interestingly, no evidence to the contrary was offered by anyone in all of these accounts.
The humility of Messiah
Prophecy: Zechariah 9:9
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Fulfilment: John 12:12-14
“a great multitude when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna! “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The King of Israel!’ Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written.”
Jewish people are taught to expect a triumphant, kingly Messiah descending from heaven to rule and bring peace to the people of the earth. What is not often taught is that Messiah was first to come humbly, riding on a donkey, to accomplish His mission to reconcile us to God (Matthew 21:5-10). World peace cannot come unless individuals’ hearts first find peace with God through Messiah.
The One Who would enter Jerusalem was “your King,” meaning Israel’s king. Israel’s king could be only One person, a descendant of David, which Jesus obviously was. Yet He came first not on a warrior’s steed (as He will when He returns; see Revelation 19:11-16), but as One having justice and salvation (deliverance). No one in Israel fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 like Jesus. His righteous character attracted the throngs that followed Him and hung on His teaching. His gentle humility caused even children to be comfortable in His midst. This picture of Him entering Jerusalem humbly on a donkey, coupled with the following two prophetic images of Messiah–the suffering (crucified) Servant–paint a powerful picture of the totality of the life of Jesus as Messiah.
The crucifixion of Messiah
Prophecy: Psalm 22
Fulfilment: Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19
When you speak about the death of Messiah to your Jewish friend, you might find some resistance. Jewish people are brought up believing that the Messiah will come as a King and He will rule the world. These prophecies make it clear that He was first to come and die for the sins of the world.
Psalm 22 is a picture of the crucifixion, years before crucifixion was a method of capital punishment. The parallels between this Psalm, written nearly 1,000 years before Christ, and the Gospel account are uncanny.
To see the striking parallels between the prophetic imagery of a crucifixion in Psalm 22 with the facts of Jesus’ death, compare the following: His cry of anguish (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46); the mocking He endured (Psalm 22:6-8; Matthew 27:39-43); the condition of His body (Psalm 22:14; compare with the condition of a person hanging on a cross); His thirst on the cross (Psalm 22:15; John 19:28); the piercing of His hands and feet on the cross (Psalm 22:16: compare with the nail prints in His hands; John 20:25-27); the gambling for his garments (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24). As David prefigured Messiah in so many ways, he also prefigured Him in his own suffering at the hands of evildoers. Psalm 22clearly shows that Jesus is the crucified One of whom David wrote.
The Suffering Servant
Prophecy: Isaiah 53
Fulfilment: John 1:1; Matthew 8:16-17; 26:62-63; 27:12-14, 38, 57-60; Mark 15:27-28; Luke 23:33; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3
Your Jewish friend might think, when he reads this passage, that he is reading from the New Testament. He may be surprised to see this in his own Bible!
This is perhaps the strongest of the Messianic prophecies. The prophecy actually begins in Isaiah chapter 52 verse 13. It describes the priestly ministry of the Messiah Who would die as an innocent offering for the sins of the Jewish people. The prophecy has numerous points of fulfilment recorded in the Gospel accounts of the death of the Messiah. He was “like a lamb led to the slaughter,” an innocent sufferer who died on behalf of others.
This prophecy should affect your Jewish friend if he is really seeking the Lord. He might go back to a rabbi and hear that the prophecy refers to the nation of Israel, but the text does not support this interpretation. Notice verses 5 and 8, where the servant suffers for “our sins” and the “sins of my people.” Someone is suffering for the sins of another group. In Isaiah, the “group” can only be Israel. Therefore, the one suffering for Israel has to be one other than Israel. It can only be Messiah. The earliest rabbinic authorities ascribed this passage to the Messiah.
Israel will mourn
Prophecy: Zechariah 12:10
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
Fulfilment: Not yet fulfilled
In the future, just before the Second Coming of Jesus, the Jewish people will recognize that He was the One “whom they pierced.” They will mourn as if they themselves bore the guilt for this terrible event (John 19:37). No human – Jew or Gentile – can be held responsible for the death of the Messiah. He died because it was the Father’s plan for Him to die. The Jewish people will clearly see that the One whom God sent to deliver them was Jesus.
Genesis 17:19 Isaiah 42:1
Numbers 24:17 Isaiah 50:6
Psalm 16:10 Isaiah 59:1-6
Psalm 34:20 Isaiah 61:1
Psalm 41:9 Isaiah 63:1
Psalm 45:2 Jeremiah 23:5
Psalm 68:18 Jeremiah 31:15
Psalm 69:4, 21 Hosea 11:1
Psalm 110:1,4 Zechariah 3:8
Psalm 118:22 Zechariah 6:12
Psalm 132:11 Zechariah 11:12, 13
Isaiah 2:4 Zechariah 13:7
Isaiah 11:2, 10 Haggai 2:7
ICEBREAKERS TO HELP YOU GET STARTED
Once your Jewish friend has read the Gospels and studied Messianic prophecy, don’t be afraid to ask him to accept Jesus as his Messiah. Jewish people in particular need to know that they must make a decision.
You can use the Roman Road (a clear, progressive, presentation of the Gospel found in the Book of Romans) or the Jerusalem Road (a similar presentation from the Old Testament, courtesy of Gideon Levytam) to make certain that your Jewish friend understands the truths of the Gospel:
- Man’s sin: Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
(or Isaiah 59:2)
- Man’s need and God’s provision: Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(or Leviticus 17:11, Isaiah 53:3, 6, 11)
- God’s love: Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
(or Jeremiah 31:3)
- Man’s trust: Romans 10:9-10 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
(or Isaiah 55:1-3; Proverbs 3:5-6)
Assure your friend that he does not need to give up his Jewish identity; that he can trust God with his family members and friends who might not understand his decision. Pray a “sinner’s prayer” with him as he invites Jesus into his life.
What a joy it is to see new creations in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Be sure to help him get started growing in his faith, reading the Bible and praying. Help him find a local congregation of believers where he can feel comfortable and be able to grow in the grace of the Lord.
WHAT IF YOUR FRIEND REJECTS YOUR MESSAGE?
If your Jewish friend does not accept the Gospel, don’t be discouraged. Be sure to remain his friend–you never know how many years down the road the Lord might open up yet another opportunity for him to trust in Jesus. Your friendship alone will be a witness to him of the love of Messiah, and he will see the difference in your life.
From time to time, when a need arises, offer the ministry of prayer. Even if a Jewish person does not want to hear about Jesus, he may welcome your offer of prayer. And, of course, be sure to pray continually that the Lord would draw your friend to Himself. Prayer is the key to all sharing of the Gospel, because it is the Lord who opens people’s hearts. Bring your Jewish friend often in prayer to the throne of grace, and trust that God will open his eyes to recognize Him.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Chosen People Ministries wants to help you witness to your Jewish friend. We have a catalog of materials to equip you in your witness. We have missionaries in different parts of the world that may be able to visit your Jewish friend if you feel he is interested, or we know of believers and congregations throughout the country to whom we can refer you. Our website also has a section where interested Jewish people can find out more about believing in Jesus. Please let us help you however we can.
Be encouraged! There is a remnant of Jewish people who WILL accept the Gospel – and your friend may well be one of them. Serve the Lord faithfully in your witness and He will bring forth the fruit!