From time to time, friends ask me how to share their faith in Yeshua (Jesus) with Jewish friends and acquaintances. I really enjoy addressing this issue for a variety of reasons, but mostly because too few of us know where to begin to speak to this question in the most sensitive, yet effective, way.
Many Christians in my acquaintance have a somewhat vague awareness that the Jews are God's chosen people, but there are various misconceptions about Jewish practices and traditions, including an erroneous belief that all Jews reject Jesus as their Messiah.
Through more than 25 years of ministry to my own people, I have found that Jewish people are not closed to the gospel-they simply haven't heard a gospel they can understand! Clearing up misconceptions is important to breaking down the barriers that have kept believers from effectively reaching Jewish people, but let's focus on a few key pointers that will help you to reach out to your Jewish friends, coworkers and family members.
Be a friend. We need to care enough to watch, listen and see what's going on in the lives of your Jewish friends. If you can tell that someone doesn't even believe in God, it's probably not a good idea to jump in about Yeshua being the Anointed One. If someone doesn't believe in sin, you don't want to begin by talking about how Yeshua bore the sins of all mankind. It's a great time to practice a whole new level of thoughtful sensitivity, and prayer is the key.
Pray, pray, pray! We need to pray for our Jewish family, friends and loved ones. Heartfelt and effectual prayer moves the hand of God. It is really the only thing that changes people's hearts. As much as we try to encourage or persuade others, only God can change the hearts of men.
I have known the Lord since 1980, and only one other member of my family is a believer in Yeshua. But I am praying and believing God that my entire family will one day know Yeshua as their Messiah. Keep in mind that we walk by faith and not by sight. The God of Israel, who does all things well, desires for your friends and family members to come to faith even more than you do! Trust Him to love them-through you and others-and reveal Himself to them.
Our actions show we care. We need to let our light so shine that everyone around us knows we have a special relationship with God. The apostle Paul says of the Jews in Romans 11:11, "Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the gentiles to make Israel envious."
When our Jewish friends see us in close relationship with God, they will be provoked to envy. We may not see it. We may even feel that they find our faith amusing, in a condescending way. But when trouble strikes that friend, they will find us for prayer and comfort.
Learn to share the gospel from the Old Testament. Well over 300 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament unmistakably reveal the identity of the Messiah. A little focused study can provide you with many of these key prophecies. The fact that the Old Testament pinpoints the virgin birth in Isaiah 7:14, where the Messiah would be born in Micah 5:2-5, how and why He would die and His atoning death on the cross in Psalm 22 are just a few examples.
It's impossible to read Isaiah 53 with an open mind and not be moved by its depiction of the suffering Yeshua endured as He died for the sins of mankind.
Use effective and correct terminology. Names like Jesus Christ, and words like Christian, church, convert, baptize, etc., have an entirely different meaning for a Jewish person than they do for a Christian.
When a Jewish person hears the word Christ, they don't know that the name Christ is derived from the Greek term Christos, meaning "anointed one." It is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Mashiach or Messiah. Use Messiah instead of Christ when speaking with your Jewish friends. Any Jewish person will relate to Messiah. Give them the opportunity to observe you reverently and respectfully referring to Jesus by His Hebrew name, Yeshua.
Share your testimony. Jewish people love the supernatural. Very often people who don't want to be preached at are still very interested to hear what happened in your life that caused such a dramatic change. Let them know that the same God who changed your life can and will do exactly the same for them.
The End of the Age is coming. We must redouble our efforts to reach God's Chosen People with the Gospel. We can't let them die without Yeshua when the final trumpet sounds! Time is running short for Planet Earth. It is devastating to think that people you love will miss out on the joys of Heaven, simply because they have never said yes to the Messiah. Yeshua is coming soon. We must be equipped and do all that we can to prepare those we love for His return!