The chasm between Judaism and Christianity goes beyond the unfortunate and sometimes bloody history between the two faiths. There are some deep theological divides as well. For example, Jewish people traditionally find it very difficult to understand the idea of the Incarnation—that Jesus is both fully man and fully God. So how can a Jewish person possibly come to believe that Jesus is God in the flesh when their community and heritage is so opposed to this belief?
Jewish people affirm that God is one; He is singular and not three. One of the core prayers of Judaism, referred to as the Shema, is based on Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” This is often viewed as a religious rallying cry within the Jewish community and recited almost every time Jewish people gather for prayer. The idea that God is three-in-one is viewed as non-Jewish and heretical by almost every Jewish person in the world, apart from Jewish believers in Messiah!
Jewish people also do not believe God can become a man and are taught that worshiping God in any form—be it flesh, wood, or stone—is idolatry. Therefore, to believe that God became a man and to then worship this individual would be viewed as antithetical to the Jewish faith. Resistance to the idea that God became a man is woven into the Jewish soul.
It is only when a sincere Jewish seeker studies the Old Testament—and sees that the possibility of what has been taught for ages might not sync with what was revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures—that he or she can consider the essential truth of the Incarnation. The Bible presents the Incarnation as a finishing touch on the promise God made to Abram in Genesis 12:1–3. In this fundamental passage, God promises to bless Abram and transform his descendants into a great nation and to bless the nations of the world. The blessing of the world was accomplished through the writing and preservation of the Bible and in the first coming of the Messiah.
Christmas—the celebration of His Incarnation—and Hanukkah point us to the One who was faithful in the past and will be faithful in the future. His promise to the Jewish people did not hit a dead end at the cross. The Bible teaches us that there is so much more to come when He returns. His chosen people have a vital and continuing role to play. Jesus, our resurrected King and Messiah, was born of a Jewish virgin, lived among the Jewish people, died and rose in Israel, and will shelter the Jewish people until the day He comes to reign over His kingdom.