Shortly after I came to faith in Jesus as a 16-year-old, Jewish, hippie rock drummer late in 1971, my father asked me to meet with the local rabbi. My dad was thrilled that I had stopped using drugs. But he said to me, “Michael, we’re Jewish. We don’t believe this.”
The local rabbi and I became friends, spending hours in intense discussion and debate. And in one of our early meetings, he gave me a book detailing the history of “Christian” antisemitism. The contents were absolutely shocking.
How could it be that so many famous Christian leaders seemed to have such hatred for the Jewish people? How could it be that Jews were offered baptism or death? How could it be non-baptized Jews were expelled from many “Christian” countries? How could it be that Luther’s recommendations to the German princes of his day, counseling them on how to deal with the “insufferable devilish burden – the Jews,” were carried out in detail by the Nazis?
All this was shocking to me because 1) the church where I came to faith had a real love for the Jewish people and Israel; 2) the spirit of the New Testament was one of love, even for those who opposed the faith; and 3) I was not familiar with church history.
But the more I shared my faith with fellow Jews, the more they referenced this ugly history, a history that was still fresh in their minds, especially if they were religious Jews.
Ironically, as I traveled around the world preaching in nation after nation, I met Christians who had a deep love for the Jewish people, who supported the modern state of Israel, and who too were shocked by the horrible history of “Christian” antisemitism.
In fact the book that I wrote sharing this history, Our Hands Are Stained with Blood, became my most translated book, remaining in print from 1992 until last year, when we released an expanded and updated edition. Just like me, Christians were shocked to hear about this history and wanted to help make the story known.
That’s why I am so deeply grateful to you who are Christian supporters of Israel.
For so many years now, despite the imperfections of the people of Israel, you have served my people there.
You have cared for their poor. You have ministered to their sick. You have given and you have sacrificed and you have loved. And you have done it because of your faith, not despite your faith. You have done it unconditionally.
And that has made a great difference in Jewish perceptions of Christianity. There is less suspicion. Less fear of heavy-handed proselytizing. Less concern of ulterior motive.
You have loved as Jesus taught, putting others first. And you have sought to undo the terrible reputation of “Christianity” in the eyes of the Jewish world.
For that, as a Jewish follower of Jesus, I am deeply grateful.
Some of you have pledged not to proselytize in order to prove that you have no ulterior motives. I respect that and can understand that, as long as you also stated your Christian beliefs with clarity as well. In other words, you have said, “We are Christians, and we want everyone to believe in Jesus, Jew and Gentile alike. But we are not here to missionize.”
Again, I understand that and can respect that.
What I cannot respect and what I cannot understand is when you oppose others from sharing their faith with Jews. Why on earth would you do such a thing, especially when it comes to Messianic Jews in Israel sharing their faith with other Jews? How could you, even for a split second, contemplate standing against this sacred task?
If Christians did not share the gospel with me in 1971 I might not have lived to see my 18th birthday, let alone had a ministry that, by God’s grace, has touched millions.
If Christians did not share the gospel with my wife, Nancy, whom I met when she was a 19-year-old Jewish atheist, we would not be married today. The thought is unimaginable.
As for Jews living in Israel and around the world, if the gospel is not for them, then it is for no one.
If a Jewish person can be saved without Jesus, then the cross is a not only unnecessary. It is an absolute mockery.
If Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah, then the New Testament is false and the Christian faith is a lie.
And if the gospel is not for the Jew first, then it is not also for the Gentile.
Why would you ever want to hinder this good news from going to my people, especially in Israel?
In recent days, since the announcement of GOD TV’s Hebrew-speaking channel, Shelanu (meaning, “ours”), there has been an outcry of protest from some Orthodox Jews and counter-missionary rabbis. That is no surprise.
But there have been Christian supporters of Israel who have also raised their voices in protest, speaking against Israeli Messianic Jews preaching the good news of Yeshua to their own people, in Hebrew, on Israeli TV.
How can this be?
And for every verse you can give me supporting your standing in solidarity with Israel, which I affirm, I can give you 10 (or many more) calling you to share the good news with the Jewish people.
Your public stance has been a shock to many in the Messianic Jewish community, not just in Israel, but around the world, feeling like the ultimate stab in the back. From you, dear friends? Really?
And so, to every Christian Zionist and every Christian friend of Israel, I urge you with all my heart: Please do not oppose us as we share the water of life with our thirsty people. Please do not withhold from them the very message that brought you salvation. Please do not keep Jesus to yourself. And please do not hinder Jews from taking the message of redemption, paid for with the Messiah’s own blood, to their fellow Jews.
To do so would be an act of utter cruelty towards the people you love so much.