I am Jewish and I want to find out and follow the Messiah- how can I do this?
You are asking a very important question, arguably the most important question anyone can ask. Clearly, each person has a unique personality and life experiences. However, as a follower of Jesus I believe despite the rich diversity of human existence and the vast, crowded and noisy marketplace of beliefs in which we all inhabit, there is only one-way for all people (Jewish and Gentile) to fully encounter God and to know the peace and purpose that only God can give. The way is Jesus- Jesus is not just the bearer of the truth, but he is the truth.
I am not sure what has contributed to you asking this question, often such questions arise from our own reflections on life. I think such reflections and longings lie deep within every person. This is part of what it means to be ‘made in the image of God’, yet maybe such reflections and longings are especially poignant within Jewish people as Jewish identity and religious heritage often makes people more aware of God’s character, God’s creation, and our own wonderful yet flawed humanity.
The one-way is the way of Jesus (Yeshua). He is the Jewish Messiah. We find out who Jesus is primarily from the writings which make up the New Testament. I encourage you to get a copy of the New Testament and to invest time in reading it carefully. The New Testament is a Jewish book written mainly by Jewish writers about a Jewish man. Within the books of the New Testament we read about Jesus, his birth, his teaching, his relationships. We see how he lived faithfully to Torah and how he fulfilled the messianic prophecies. We hear his call to us to trust him and his invitation to become his disciples. We begin to understand the promises of the Kingdom of God.
The New Testament gives powerful witness to the death of Jesus, which is understood as a sacrifice of atonement. His death is followed by a victorious resurrection, ascension, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the lives of his disciples. One such New Testament description of the death and resurrection of Jesus is given by a once skeptical Rabbi who had violently opposed those (initially nearly all the early believers in Jesus were Jewish) who came to believe, trust, and follow Jesus. This Rabbi writes:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ (Messiah) died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and then he appeared to Peter and then to the twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all of the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians chapter 15 verses 3-8. This letter is part of the New Testament writings).
The New Testament
The New Testament presents a clear picture of Jesus. In reading carefully the New Testament (a good place to start is with one of the four gospels) we are given a choice, an invitation, a summons. Ultimately, we must decide to accept and follow Jesus as Messiah and LORD or to dismiss and reject. In accepting and following Jesus we are not simply ticking a box of what and who we believe but rather we are open to allowing what we believe and who we believe to change us and how we live.
In accepting him we need to take some important first steps, these steps can start right now.
Firstly, we need to confess (repent) to God that we are sinners and have fallen short of God’s ways. Secondly, we ask for God’s forgiveness and we seek his renewal of our lives. Thirdly, we commit to Jesus as our LORD and Saviour. There is no set pattern for doing this, yet saying a prayer along the following lines will be helpful:
God, there is so much I don’t know but I know I have sinned in many ways. Please help me to turn away from sin and towards you. I thank you that Jesus (Yeshua) came to be truth and that through his death and resurrection I can know forgiveness and life. Jesus (Yeshua) help me now to follow, honour and love you, please lead me forward and fill me with your Holy Spirit today and every day. Amen.
If you prayed this prayer, you have started a journey- a journey with Jesus (Yeshua), a journey with eternal consequences! As with any journey you will need support and you will need to take some actions. One good source of support is to hear testimonies from others who are on the same journey as you are. Some helpful testimonies can be found by visiting ifoundshalom.com. Another useful website is christianity.org.uk. This website contains helpful information about the 'basics' of faith in Jesus. Also, the site provides opportunities to ask questions to real people.
I want to assure you that in following Jesus you are not in any way denying your Jewish identity. There are many followers of Jesus today who are fully faithful to him and to their Jewish identity and inheritance. I encourage you to go and find Christian leaders you trust and explain to them the journey you are on. They will be able to offer help, guidance and fellowship. Equally if you would like someone from CMJ to correspond with you please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com Your correspondence and any questions you may ask will be treated confidentially.
Alex Jacob, February 2022.