A Windblown Seed
Ed: We hope you know that while we are making Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide, we do not avoid preaching the Word to Gentiles! The following story shows how God sometimes blesses the gospel seed we sow in rather unexpected ways.
One day I was handing out tracts in Glebe, in Sydney’s university area. I encountered Bill, a 20-something Gentile who hated the religion that he felt had bashed” him as he was growing up. He resented the “selfrighteousness” of his teachers in parochial school. He felt no need for religion, or for Jesus.
I wondered aloud if Bill really longed for God, if he honestly wanted reality and meaning. He replied, “Sure. Who doesn’t?” But, he was quick to add that he had an internal mechanism that showed him what was true. He told me that he didn’t need Jesus—he had his own path to light.
So I asked Bill a question. “Did you ever know the right path, the one that leads to peace, and go in the other direction?”
“Sure,” he agreed, “doesn’t everyone?”
I explained that taking the path away from what you know to be right is one form of what the Bible calls “sin.” Bill immediately told me he didn’t believe in sin. “But, wouldn’t you agree, Bill, that knowing the right path, and going away from it, is both wrong and harmful for you?”
“Then you agree with what the Bible says of sin: sin’s consequences are harmful to you and to others.”
I then asked where Bill thought Jesus would be standing in relation to his (Bill’s) sin. Would Jesus be standing in front of Bill, belittling him for taking the wrong way? Bill immediately told me that’s where all religious people stood, always correcting him, always demanding that he admit their way was more righteous. He was tired of it.
I told Bill, “Jesus is behind you, even as you stand on the wrong path—He is there to catch you when you fall. He wants to bring you closer to God and save you from further calamity and condemnation. This is God’s grace.” I found myself telling Bill that we wrongly see God as some kind of ogre who places impossible demands on us and is eager to punish us when we fail to satisfy His requirements. In reality, God wants to extend love and kindness to us, to help us find the right path, the path of life, in Jesus.
Honestly, I think I got more out of the conversation than Bill did. I could not stop thinking about God’s grace. The next day I shared the conversation with James—a Jewish man whom I’m discipling in his new life. James really “got it.” The next day, he was travelling to work in his carpool and shared God’s grace with a business associate named Julie. Julie is from Fiji in the South Pacific. Like Bill, she, too, had misunderstood where God stood in regard to our sinful lives. As James talked with Julie about God’s grace, he used the same imagery I’d passed on to him from my conversation with Bill. Her heart was touched and that day she prayed with James to receive Jesus and to be born again.
I thought I was planting gospel seed in Bill’s heart, but it seems the Spirit of God blew that seed to more fertile soil. His grace is available for both Jews and Gentiles and can be found from the streets of Glebe to a carpool far outside of Sydney, to wherever you and your friends, associates and loved ones are. Why not share this with someone near you now?
Bob Mendelsohn is the leader of Jews for Jesus' work in Sydney, Australia. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Kansas City, but became a college drop-out when he decided to look for the meaning of life in the counterculture of the '60s. He found meaning and relevance in Jesus which caused him much trouble at home. But he says, "it was worth the cost." Bob has worked for Jews for Jesus since 1979, and served as the leader of our work in Washington DC and New York City before moving to Sydney in 1998. Bob and his wife Patty both graduated from the University of Kansas and Fuller Seminary. The Mendelsohns live in Sydney near their son. Their two daughters and two grandsons live in the US. Their son has a son and is expecting another in 2019.