The following statements and questions are fairly common, especially at this time of year:
“At an ecumenical luncheon, the rabbi of a local synagogue condemned Jews for Jesus for ‘misusing Jewish religious symbols.’ He claimed that your organization uses Jewish holidays and symbols to mislead people into believing that you are still Jews when, in fact, you are Christians. He also said that you ‘distort the meaning of Jewish symbols to make them bait on a Christian fishhook to catch unsuspecting Jews.’ He was especially critical about the fact that you teach about Passover in churches, giving it ‘false’ Christian symbolism. As a friend of your ministry, how can I defend you against such accusations?”
ANSWER: Regardless of what anyone says, we are Jews in that we are physically descended from Abraham. At the same time we are also Christians—those who believe in and follow Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. One classification does not cancel out the other, even though rabbis teach that Judaism and Christianity are mutually exclusive and hence are antithetical to one another.
As for the accusation that we “misuse Jewish symbols and Jewish holidays,” we have a right to use Jewish symbols by virtue of our ancestry, and we have a right to celebrate Passover and other Jewish holidays and interpret them according to the teachings of Scripture.
When we bring our Christ in the Passover presentation to the churches we do not pervert the meaning of the Paschal lamb or any of the other Passover symbols. We merely tell what Jesus Himself taught His disciples at the Last Supper, which was a Passover celebration (see Matthew 26:18-30). If the New Testament is false, then what Jesus taught about His connection with the Passover lamb is false. If the New Testament is true, then so are Jesus’ claims concerning Himself and Passover. If you hear these accusations again, you might point out that the quarrel is not so much with Jews for Jesus, but with the New Testament.
In Matthew 26:26-28 we read, “. . . as they were eating, Jesus took [unleavened] bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat: this is My body.’ Then He took the cup [the Passover wine regarded by many rabbis as a symbol of the blood of the Passover lamb], and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’”
As Jewish believers who have learned this symbolism from Scripture, we do not pervert the meaning of Passover. Rather we rejoice in discovering its deeper spiritual significance. From the very beginning, the entire Passover observance was filled with prophetic symbolism of the promised Messiah/Redeemer. The Passover lamb’s blood on the doorpost saved the Israelites from the scourge of the Death Angel and opened the path to freedom from Egyptian bondage. Centuries later John (Yochanon) the Baptist (a Jewish prophet and son of a devout Temple priest) pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
The Messiah Y’shua came as God’s ultimate cleansing sacrifice. His blood is efficacious to save all people (not only Jews) from the slavery and penalty of sin and from the terrible punishment of the second death.
Our faith commitment to Messiah Y’shua as the Lamb of God in no way negates the meaning of the first Passover. Rather, it fulfills it. Our faith in God’s Messiah does not make us non-Jews, but Jews who love, trust and seek to follow the Jew Jesus. Our goal is not to entice other Jews to believe in Him under false pretenses, but to present to them what we have found to be true.