Sol ran the luncheonette that I often passed on my way to the post office. I wondered if he might be Jewish. Perhaps Sol was short for Solomon. As Sol and I talked, it turned out that he was Jewish, and even from Israel. He was fascinated that I, a Gentile, had traveled to Israel to study more about the Bible. We often discussed God and the Bible, but Sol did not really accept the idea that Jesus was the true Messiah and God. There was one particular, unforgettable time that we sat and talked.
We visited a while, and I mentioned something about Yeshua. Sol was in the mood for a good-natured discussion. He asked, Who is this Yeshua?” He knew that I was speaking of Jesus. We had talked about him at other times. This time, rather than launching into a long theological monologue, I tried something different. I remembered what my friends in Jews for Jesus always taught about witnessing: Do not give an answer that shuts off discussion. Answer with a statement or a question that will encourage the other person to keep on talking.
My answer was simple and guaranteed to continue the discussion. All I said was, “He’s Jewish.” Sol thought for a moment, and with half a smile responded, “Not according to Ha-Sokhenut ha-Yehudit (the Jewish Agency).”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
He was ready with his reason. “The Jewish Agency never issued Jesus a Jewish identity card!”
The Jewish Agency did not come into being until the 19th century. It was the organization that issued I.D. cards that have allowed Jewish immigrants from all over the world to come to Israel, declare their Jewishness and take advantage of their subsequent right to settle in the land.
Obviously, Sol’s comment was not serious, but it provided me with an opportunity to make a serious point. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit will help us witness. My prayer had been that God would give me the right words when talking with Sol, and that’s exactly what he did.
Looking intently at Sol as though I had always known the answer (although the thought had never entered my mind before) I said, “Why does a person carry an identity card? It’s so that he can prove that he belongs to a certain nation, that he owes allegiance to that government or that king. But the king does not need to carry an identity card!”
Sol got the point. The answer to his own jestful statement now required that he once again face the claim of Jesus as King of Israel.
The Holy Spirit certainly helped me with the right answer at the right time. A couple of friends from the Los Angeles Branch of Jews for Jesus have been able to visit Sol since that conversation. We pray that Sol will soon want to acknowledge Yeshua as his Messiah and King and identify with him.
David Depew is a friend of our Jews for Jesus ministry in the Greater Los Angeles Area.