By Alan Shore
It has been almost 30 years since I accepted the claim that Jesus is the Messiah, according to the Hebrew prophets. When I look back at that callow, unformed youth and ask, “How could you have made such an outrageous decision?” I am amazed not so much that I did it, but that I have stood by that choice in all that has followed.
Although that young man might be horrified to find what has become of his youthful good looks and strong body, there is something he would recognize in the man he would become. It is that he is Jewish – and that it matters to him.
I sometimes ask if the same arguments that persuaded me then to believe would work today. I am not sure that all of them would. Although my faith has grown, I must confess, I still have times of doubt. But there are two things that I was struck by all those years ago that I still find make a compelling case for the Messianic claims of Jesus.
A Reliable Basis
The first is that the longer I continue, the more I marvel at the Bible. The profound depths of its understanding of human nature never cease to amaze me. In all of the joys and sadness that compose my life, I find the Bible expresses the brokenness of my own nature and its yearning for freedom and wholeness in ways I sometimes feel I have not begun to fathom.
In presenting the Messiah as the human sufferer, vindicated at last by a just and merciful God, the Bible enfolds our own suffering and vindicates us. As we place our faith in the Messiah, our lives become hopeful. And that hope is based upon the idea that we are moving toward a destination-a “final act” in the play of history that will reveal all we need to know. This is what the Bible teaches. The question remains, is this truly the case?
A Life Experience
The second thing is that this spiritual decision has been validated in actual life. In the midst of the turmoil of my early twenties, I was unexpectedly confronted by the idea that the message of reconciliation in the teachings of Jesus was meant especially for Jewish people. The more I delved, the more I had to admit that the powerful story of redemption and forgiveness could only work if Jesus had been a Jew. If so, then his message was not only also for Jews, but primarily so.
The Psalmist challenges us to “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8). And by taking the “leap of faith” that my reason had led me to, I have lived, despite my imperfections, in the knowledge of God’s love and forgiveness. The promise of peace has been confirmed to me time and again, even in the midst of struggle and uncertainty.
Faith and Doubt
I have also found that faith and doubt are not always mutually exclusive qualities. There is a story in the Gospel of Mark where a man seeks healing from Messiah for his son. In the midst of his misery, the man exclaims, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
This strikes me as not only the most Jewish prayer in the Bible, but in all of Jewish history.