• Roots of an olive tree. | Photo: Canva

Christianity is Jewish

Rev. Willem J.J. Glashouwer - 19 May 2022

I read an article under the title ‘Christianity is Jewish’ in ‘Israel Today’, Monday April 12, 2021, by Charles Gardner, translated into Dutch.

Charles Gardner is a 65-year old journalist, born in South Africa, who is currently stationed in Yorkshire, England. Partly Jewish by birth he became a Christian at the beginning of his career, 40 years ago. He came to love Israel and the Jewish people and became the author of, among others, ‘Israel the Chosen’, ‘Peace in Jerusalem’, ‘A Nation Reborn’ and ‘King of the Jews’.

He writes:

“Commotion around Easter over the similarity of a Christian service with the Passover Seder held by the Jews, left me scratching my head and wondering what all the fuss was about. The ‘Church of England’ [Anglican Church] had prepared a liturgy for home use (in light of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions) for celebrating Holy Thursday, the beginning of the three-day Easter celebration.

But according to the newspaper ‘The Telegraph’ they subsequently withdrew the liturgy after criticism that it would show ‘striking similarities’ with the Jewish ceremony, and they apologized for the offense that they caused by ‘appropriating’ the Jewish tradition.

The Gospel that we proclaim is completely Jewish.

All of this exposes the terrible confusion that exists in Christianity as a whole, and in the British churches in particular, about the connection between Christianity and Judaism. And that is the reason why I [Charles Gardner] have been writing a lot about this subject over the past few weeks. With the words of the eminent writer and theologian Edith Schaeffer: ‘Christianity is Jewish’, the title of one of her books. The connection is not only partial, but complete. The Gospel that we proclaim is completely Jewish. And scholars generally agree that the Last Supper that Jesus commemorated with His disciples, on the eve of His crucifixion, was a Passover Seder.”

Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, Who died for the sins of all who put their faith in His redeeming blood, was crucified – fittingly and in perfect fulfillment of the Old Testament (i.e. Jewish) scriptures – during the Passover Feast. While the Israelites in Egypt were delivered from slavery by the blood of a sacrificed lamb applied to the lintels and doorposts of their houses, the cross of Christ became the door to eternal life for all who applied the blood that flowed from His nail-pierced hands and feet, for their own redemption.

The confusion about all this goes back to the early Church fathers who, despite all their helpful insights, made the tragic decision to break away from the Hebrew roots of the faith and to reinvent or ‘christianize’ Passover and to separate it from the Feast still celebrated by the Jews today. It was a blatant act of antisemitism and has done untold damage to Jewish-Christian relations ever since.

Messianic Jews – those who, like the first disciples, believe in Jesus [as the Son of God and Messiah of Israel] – still celebrate Passover as their ancestors did. It is just extra special for them because they not only rejoice in their deliverance from the slavery in Egypt at the time of the Pharaos, but they also recognize that Jesus saved them from sin and darkness and brought them into the Kingdom of light.

It is time for Christian church leaders to stop apologizing and start enjoying the rich bond with our Hebrew root, the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus the Jew.

The apostle Paul rebuked the non-Jewish believers in Rome: ‘Do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.’ (Romans 11:18). And he warned that loosening this root would rob them of the life-giving sap upon which they depended for a healthy growth. For it was only by grace that they were grafted into God’s root.

It is only by grace that non-Jewish believers were grafted into God’s root.

Jews and Christians stand on the same root. And that root is Christ. Or rather: that root is God’s Covenant relationship with Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3, which is fulfilled in the New Covenant made with Israel – see Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Luke 21:19-20, during this Passover celebrated by Jesus the Jew, with His Jewish friends around the table, not a Gentile in sight – an inner Jewish affair.

The New Covenant made with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. The bread and the wine/blood broken and spilt for them, His Jewish friends. The New Covenant made with Israel and which later (Acts 10) has been opened up for us Gentiles, for non-Jews, as well. We are welcome into their New Covenant relationship with God. Because of the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus, those two signs of the New Covenant. The blood that has been poured out for us Gentiles as well. For the sins of the world.

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