Yeshua made a profound impact on this world. Libraries are filled with books written about Him. Gifted composers were inspired to write music about Him. Works such as Handel’s Messiah and other great masterpieces have been performed and heard by millions. Great painters and sculptors, such as Michelangelo and Botticelli sought to uplift Yeshua, and their art is found in the most renowned museums and galleries on this globe. The greatest philosophers and scientists from Mortimer Adler to Albert Einstein had to grapple with Yeshua’s teachings and ponder His person. And even those philosophers who lived before He came propounded ethics and aesthetics that only His life truly exemplified.
Because Yeshua came to earth, my Jewish people are the most notable ethnic group in history. Because of Yeshua, people in remote jungles as well as in the highest halls of learning all over the world have discussed the Jewish people and our teachings. Because of Yeshua, people all over the world are familiar with the geography of the Jewish homeland. To many, Bethlehem is more familiar than Bombay, Jerusalem better known than Jakarta. Because of Yeshua, people of all races bear Jewish names like Abraham, David, Jacob, Isaiah and Rachel. Because of Yeshua, they feel related to the Jewish people. Because of Yeshua, the Jewish Scriptures became the writings for all people. Because of Yeshua, most of us live by a calendar that marks time in the years before He walked this earth and the years since then.
Yeshua brought the blessing of His peace to everyone. Before His coming, most of the world gave its allegiance to Mars, the god of war. People wanted peace for themselves, but they felt that it would come through their conquest of all others. They wanted wealth and prosperity for themselves at the expense of those who were aliens to their society. Admittedly, the concept of universal peace was something that the Jewish prophets said would eventually happen. Yet it took the coming of Yeshua to change the concept of desired peace, from shalom for us and our own to shalom for all people.
Yeshua taught compassion for the suffering. Eastern religions taught that suffering, pain, disease and untimely death were all the just deserts for an individual’s dishonorable behavior in a previous life. Yeshua taught hope for the suffering. Eastern religions fatalistically accepted suffering as karma. Yeshua brought a message of confidence in God’s care and hope for the abundant life He offered.
Out of Christian compassion, hospitals were established. Because of Yeshua, missionaries brought schools and literacy to faraway places. Medical and agricultural professionals traveled far to give their services because of the love of Yeshua. People like Martin Neimoller and Raoul Wallenberg and Corrie Ten Boom stood up to Hitler and the hatred he spewed out because of the love they had found in Yeshua.
If Yeshua had merely lived and died, the world would not have been altered that much by His coming. But He rose from the dead, and He still lives. His resurrection puts Him on the scene of every episode of history. His observable life after the crucifixion has made Jesus the most powerful and influential person who ever lived.
The fact that Yeshua still lives and desires to change people’s lives is wonderful to those who want what He offers. Nevertheless, those who take Jesus seriously and try to live by His teaching are a minority. Their statement that Jesus lives is an offense to those who do not want what He offers.
Why is it that the majority of people, Jews and Gentiles, don’t want to hear about Yeshua? Ironically, human nature remains the same. As the saying goes, The more things change, the more they stay the same.” When Jesus walked the earth, some of the rabbis and leadership of His day did follow Him, but it took tremendous courage for them to go against the tide. Some who had position and power were able to see past their riches to their spiritual poverty that Jesus came to alleviate. But those who avoided or despised Jesus felt that they did not need His love or compassion, for they saw themselves as self-sufficient. They could not understand why Jesus kept company with those who were beneath their contempt. And they seemed to reason that if Jesus were as noble as they, He would distance Himself from those “dregs of society.”
Today, detractors of Christianity still deride believers in Jesus as weak, helpless losers who are seeking a “quick fix” to their problems. They view Jesus as a crutch and themselves as spiritually fit, having no need of Him. To such people, it is irrelevant whether Jesus is who He says He is. To consider Him is to agree to associate with the kind of needy people He attracts — and that is something they do not wish to do.
Nevertheless, Jesus is as patient and loving as He ever was. He does not restrict His grace to those who are well educated and highly employable. He does not reserve mercy for the politically correct and well connected. He is interested in giving hope to the oppressed and to the oppressors, to the haves and have-nots, alike. And He is forgiving to all who are willing to admit their destitute spiritual condition.
Jesus is as mysterious as He ever was. He is still unseen, unknown and unheard, except by those who have an ear to hear and a heart to understand.
Those who have accepted His love and forgiveness and have committed their lives to Him cannot quite explain the quality of their spiritual life to those who have not yet experienced the new birth. But one can catch glimpses of it in the lives of those who know Him best. They continue to be motivated by His person and moved by His power.
Maybe the greatest mystery of all and the one thing that is also apparent is that most people, Jews and Gentiles, don’t want to hear about Jesus. It’s apparent that His detractors would rather talk about the “deeds” of Christians than the doings of Yeshua. His followers are motivated by His person and moved by His power. But still, He is unseen, unknown and unheard except by those who have an ear to hear and a heart to understand.