Since my wife and I retired in 2004, we have been fortunate to travel almost yearly to Europe (from our home in Australia) for extended periods, mostly to my favourite country France. One year we visited the city of Bayeux, in Normandy, quite close to the WWII D-Day landing sites. While there we visited the famous Bayeux Cathedral. It was quite an experience. I have visited countless ancient churches and cathedrals in France over the years and never fail to be overwhelmed by their architectural beauty, always mindful that these massive buildings were built by hand with none of the power tools available today. I wonder if we could build equivalent masterpieces today even with power tools?
At one point during my visit, I noticed two women in the area behind the main altar, apparently transfixed, and perplexed. We got into a conversation. It turned out they were mother and daughter—New Yorkers, and Jewish. (I’d commented on their accents.)
We chatted for a while until the mother said, “We have suffered anti-Semitism and were told it was because the Jews killed Jesus. But why do Christians dislike us personally?”
I replied, “I don’t dislike Jews, in fact because of my Christian faith I have a soft spot for Jews. Any Christian who says they hate Jews is very unlikely to be Christian at all. My father, not a believer, had a saying: ‘How odd of God to choose the Jews, how odder still for those who choose the Jewish God but scorn the Jews.’ Just think about it, Jesus’ mother was Jewish and He, whom we know as the Jewish Messiah, was called the Son of David. How Jewish is that?”
Heartened by their attentiveness, I continued, “In fact, the apostles Matthew, Mark, John, Paul, and Peter, and most of the others, were Jewish. In reality we Christians follow and worship Jesus as our Lord and Saviour fully aware that by faith and the grace of God we are grafted into the tree that is called Israel. To become this we gentiles have to in one sense be converted to become Jews spiritually. Conversely for you to accept Jesus as your Messiah, your Saviour, there is no such ‘pre-conversion’ needed because you are already Jewish.”
The subject of faith was raised and I referred to Abraham as “our father of faith” which they found puzzling. I explained that “what we call the Old Testament, containing the Law, the prophets, and the writings, is considered God’s Word, and studied by true Christians (of course as well as Jews) as the foundation of our beliefs.”
Once again, emboldened by the fact that the women were clearly interested in what I was saying, I continued. “The very foundation for the Christian Gospel is contained in the early chapters of Genesis—the first book of your own Torah! We believe God is Creator as Genesis says, that He pronounced the curse upon His whole creation because Adam rebelled and did what God had commanded Adam not to do. And we believe that Jesus came as Messiah to reverse what Adam did, and to save His people from their sins. We are saved by faith, by God’s grace and Abraham is praised in the New Testament as a great man of faith, an example to all of us.”
These ladies admitted they knew little about what it meant to receive Jesus as their Saviour so I suggested they contact a Jewish Christian association I had had good contacts with. I told them I had had considerable contact with people from that organisation and knew them to be Jews who follow Jesus as their Messiah, but still Jews. We parted after about 40 minutes conversation with friendly goodbyes. I wonder if they ever pursued my suggestions, or whether God brought them ‘accidentally’ into contact with many more of His ‘fishers of men’. Was I just one step on the way of their ‘journey’? How rewarding it would be to know!