Imagine with me for a moment...
You are adopted. You grow up knowing that. Occasionally, it has led to questions but overall you are content with life as you know it. Then one day something new is brought to your attention. You find out your Father is actually a King. Ruler of a land far, far away.
This revelation is a game changer. Suddenly, you become much more than ordinary. You are royalty. But here’s the thing. You know nothing of that heritage. It is so vastly different from the culture you grew up in, you cannot understand it. You go from an overall contented attitude to feeling cheated. Because if your heritage ties you to a royal line, you just got a whole lot more interesting.
Jesus is King of the Jews. While He didn’t agree with everything His religion offered in His day, He remained a practicing Jew clear up to the time of His death. The more you learn about the Jewish calendar, you find it all revolved around various festivals and holy days. Parallel this with Jesus’ life, and you’ll see much of His ministry fell in line with these Jewish rituals as well.
Then, we read in Galatians 3:29, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Remember the illustration above? We are adopted. Into the family of Christ. Heirs. Father Abraham. We are one of them. (right arm, left arm, right foot, left foot, turn around...)
And here’s the thing that gets me; I know next to nothing of my heritage. I read my Bible. But there’s a whole lot of Bible. I have a hard time learning about this Jewish faith to my satisfaction. It looks so much different than my Protestant belief system.
Yet, really, if it weren’t for Paul and his European mission work, we could quite possibly have a much more Jewish version of Christianity today. Without the influence and the mighty power of the Catholic church throughout history, we might still be celebrating these feasts and holy days.
Just like Jesus.
This week, our women’s ministry is hosting a Passover Seder on Good Friday. The evening’s meal will be led by a family of completed Jews. The matriarch grew up in a Jewish household, accepting Jesus as a teenager.
Sarah is a delight. So patient in explaining what she knows of her Jewish heritage. Our heritage. My faith grows richer as I learn from her. When she and her family agreed to do this event, I had to stop myself from asking about all the other festivals. Would they, could they, possibly also teach us how to celebrate Shavuot, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Hannukah?
What I really wanted was to follow a completed Jew around for just a year or two and observe the world through their eyes.
I read a couple books by Lauren Winner, Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath. She does a great job of showing us what it is like for a former Jew to enter into a Christian church. What she misses. What she likes better now. So much we don’t know.
If I were to walk into a synagogue today, I would embarrass myself. I know nothing. I have this amazing ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Can a person get kicked out of a synagogue? I do not know. And so, I pick up books like Judaism for Dummies at garage sales. Hoping to unlock a bit of the secret club.
The Jewish year has a rhythm to it, marked throughout by feasts and festivals. The days started and ended with prayers to God. The Shema. All those sacrifices. Didn’t the temple stink? How could a person adjust to seeing all that blood?
I know my faith walk doesn’t need to follow Judaism to be complete.
In Jesus words, Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
But I truly believe I am missing large pieces of understanding because I know so little about Judaism. I just recently found out, really discovered, that my Jewish Father is THE King. We are royalty! And that makes me want to know everything about the faith of my Father.