Understanding the Jewishness of Jesus and the New Testament can enrich believers so wonderfully. Starting out, we need to look at Romans 11. The Apostle Paul uses an agricultural analogy in nature. That is the analogy of the olive tree. Paul speaks about gentile Christians being wild olive branches. All of the energy of a wild olive tree branch is grafted back into the cultivated olive tree. The wild olive branch is then able to feast on the food that comes from the root. The wild olive branch and natural olive tree, that being gentile believers and the Jewish people, are grafted in together and fed by that same root.
I believe with all of my heart that the root is the Abrahamic covenant. In Genesis 12, God says to Abram, “I will bless those who bless thee, and curse those who curse thee. Through you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” According to Paul, when the wild branch is grafted in, it can then receive all of the promises that God made to the Jewish people. Through Christ, gentile believers become spiritual children of Abraham. The Jewish people and gentile believers are united as one, supported by the same root. So, when a gentile believer understands more about their Abrahamic heritage, that is exciting!
For example, let us look at the seven great festivals of Israel noted in Leviticus 23. They look back to something in the past and forward to something in the future. On the Sabbath, for example, we look back at the creation of the world because God rested on the seventh day. When Jewish people rest, it is tradition to reflect on the week. The synagogue liturgy is also based on creation. And of course, it also looks forward to that ultimate Sabbath rest found in Jesus, our Messiah, as described in the book of Hebrews chapters 3 and 4. Jesus Himself said, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The Sabbath points forward to the return of Jesus providing the ultimate rest.
Passover is the first of the seven Levitical festivals. Passover begins with the seven days of unleavened bread. Passover looks back on the redemption of the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage. The deliverance of the children of Israel begins with the spotless, unblemished lamb. There were nine plagues that were unconvincing to Pharaoh. Through Moses, God announced a tenth plaque – all the firstborn males would be killed. The only way the firstborn male would be saved was to take the blood from an unblemished, spotless lamb and place it over the doorpost of the house. Then God would pass through the land of Egypt and strike dead the firstborn male of every house that was not protected by the blood of the spotless lamb. Then of course, pharaoh finally allowed the Jewish people to go free and worship God in the land of Israel.
If you, as a gentile, understand your heritage in Abraham you also understand that this was a prophetic picture of what was to happen later through the Messiah. The blood of Jesus has been smeared on the doorpost of our hearts. According to Luke 22, Jesus’ body is the unleavened bread, and the wine is a symbol of His blood, shed for us. As a Messianic Jew, when I celebrate Passover with my Jewish relatives who are not yet believers, it means so much to me when we come to the bread and the cup. It is a reminder for me of Jesus, whose sacrifice allows me to enter God’s presence, forgiven. My hope and dream is that every Jewish person, especially my family members, would discover the message of John the Baptist about Jesus as the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sin of the world.
There is so much that gentiles can learn about their Jewish heritage in the Messiah! This is just scratching the surface. He lived and died as a Jew. In order to understand Jesus, you have to understand His Jewishness.