Jesus and the Shoah
There has been quite a bit in the media about the Shoah (also spelled Shoa) or Holocaust in the past several months. January was the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In May, there were many news stories and programs commemorating the end of the Second World War.
If there is one thing that the Holocaust proves, it is that philosophies and religions teach false views about humankind, and what the Bible teaches is true. Virtually every system of belief outside of a biblical perspective contends that people are essentially okay,” or at worst, neutral. But the Bible explains that we’re neither. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” Jeremiah lamented. “Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). In the same way, Yeshua (Jesus) told us, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19).
The evil that sprang forth from the Nazis did not come out of hearts that were good or neutral and merely corrupted by outside forces. Outside forces simply nurture and give occasion for the atrocities in our hearts to come out. Only the gospel can cleanse and change a heart. The gospel message is the only hope—for ALL of us.
That is why it is so ironic that some claim that bringing the gospel to my Jewish people is a new atrocity, a spiritual Shoah. Not long ago, a journalist here in Germany told me, “I looked at some Jewish websites, and I discovered that some people say that preaching the gospel to Jews is a continuation of the Shoah.” The journalist wanted to know what I thought, and so I explained that such an accusation is both absurd and tragic.
It’s absurd, because Jesus is the Jewish Messiah for whom we Jews have been commanded to wait, and in whom we Jews have been commanded to believe by Moses and the prophets (see, for example, Deuteronomy 18:18). If Jesus is the Messiah, then the most Jewish thing that we can do is believe in Him. The argument is tragic, because it implies that the gospel message is anti-Semitic and works for the destruction of Jewish people. Those who use this argument have no clue that they are allowing Nazis to destroy us even further. They make Christians afraid to share the best possible news for Jews or anyone else. To hesitate to tell a Jewish friend about Jesus because of fear that we will be considered anti-Semitic gives the Nazis the posthumous power to deny the lifesaving message of Jesus to the Jewish people.
The gospel IS the power of God unto salvation for all those who believe, to the Jew first, and also to the non-Jew. The gospel is God’s message of love, forgiveness and reconciliation to all people. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ [Messiah] died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Avi Snyder is a veteran missionary and director of the European work of Jews for Jesus. He pioneered Jews for Jesus’ ministry in the former Soviet Union, before launching works in both Germany and Hungary. He will share with you what is happening in Jewish evangelism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Avi received his theological training at Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Ruth, have three grown children, Leah, Joel and Liz.