I don’t usually attend conventions. But with the donkey-and-elephant shows in having just been wrapped up, I wondered what I would say to convention-goers if I DID go to conventions. Maybe something like this:

Mazel tov! You made it to the CONVENTION!

You’re probably here for a short time. You should be thankful. The 1787 Constitutional Convention lasted four months!

Why do people go to conventions, anyway? Some get sent to them whether they like it or not.

Others go to conventions to see their heroes up close and personal:

Some go to find others who share their interests:

There are even Jewish conventions. They are called bar mitzvah receptions and Passover seders. OK, maybe they aren’t exactly conventions, but they might as well be.

In good Jewish style, let me tell you a story about conventions…


Once there was a Jewish convention on the holiday of Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks. Actually, it was held every year at the Temple in Jerusalem.

But there was one year in the first century when things were different than all the other years.

We gathered around like we did every year to say “thank you” to God for the wheat harvest.

This year, though, featured a special guest speaker named Peter, who happened to be a fisherman.

You’d think that a special speaker at a wheat convention would talk about how to be green while harvesting, or the health benefits of wheat.

But Shavuot was also said to be the anniversary of the birth and the death of King David. So Peter spoke about someone named Yeshua – Jesus – who was the Jewish Messiah descended from David. And while King David had died and was still dead, Peter said that Yeshua had just risen from the grave.

For a wheat convention, this speech was definitely unconventional. Yet 3,000 conventioneers listened and came to believe in Yeshua. Some of them were probably pretty conventional people in their starched white Shavuot shirts. Others were more laid back.

None of the convention-goers left with buttons and banners. But some of them left with the promise of life and the joy of forgiveness. Even Wheaties couldn’t match that.


But wait! There’s more! What’s a story without an epilogue? Ever since that convention, some Jews have continued to believe in Yeshua. Many know that Yeshua is the Messiah, that he did die as the atonement for our sins, and that he did rise from the dead so that we could have new life.

Maybe it’s UNCONVENTIONAL for a Jew to believe in Jesus. But then Yeshua himself was UNCONVENTIONAL. He rocked the religious establishment of his day. His speeches were genuine, his promises real. He made no concessions to hypocrisy or phony religion.

The life of a convention lasts only till the janitors have swept up the souvenirs and dismantled the displays. Life with Yeshua starts now and goes forever. Even after the closing ceremony of your life, there’ll still be a celebration that will never end.

Will you dare to be unconventional?

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Rich Robinson | San Francisco

Scholar in Residence, Missionary

Rich Robinson is a veteran missionary and senior researcher at the San Francisco headquarters of Jews for Jesus. Rich has written several books on Jewishness and Jesus, and he received his Ph.D. in biblical studies and hermeneutics from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1993.

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