QUESTION: Exactly what is Jews for Jesus?
ANSWER: Strictly speaking, Jews for Jesus is an organization of some 100 workers who are involved in communicating the message to the Jewish community that Jesus—or to use his Hebrew name, Yeshua—is the Messiah of Israel.
Generically, however, Jews for Jesus” refers to the growing movement among Jewish people who have come to this same faith. Conservative estimates of the number of Jews in America who believe in Yeshua range from twenty to fifty thousand, though Jewish believers are also found in substantial numbers in other countries such as England, France and Israel.
Our backgrounds mirror the varied nature of Jewish experience. Some of us were Orthodox or Conservative; others were atheists or Marxists. A few were alienated from their Jewish heritage, while others were very involved in being Jews. It is difficult to find one common intellectual, emotional, sociological or cultural factor that led to our conversions. However, we do share the collective spiritual consensus that humanity is morally culpable and estranged from a holy God, and that Yeshua is God’s gracious and only way of rectifying that estrangement for us all.
Actually, Jews for Jesus is not a recent phenomenon. We are nearly 2,000 years old! That is because the first followers of Jesus were Jews. Throughout the centuries there always have been some Jews who have come to faith in Jesus as the Messiah of Israel. In recent years the number of Jewish believers has increased dramatically, so that today the number of “Jews for Jesus” is proportionately larger than at any other time since the first century.
We Jews who have come to believe in Jesus do not consider ourselves as having given up our Jewish heritage. On the contrary, we seek to actively explore and live out our faith as Jewish followers of Jesus. We regard ourselves as Jews and as part of the Jewish community, but the Jewish community has made us outcasts as we have tried to tell our fellow Jews about the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.