Who was Jesus?
Ludwig Schneider, Jerusalem
He was born in 1941 in Magdeburg, Germany, a son of Jewish parents. In 1964 he and his wife Barbara moved to Israel. They have five children and 19 grandchildren, all of whom live in Israel. As a journalist, Ludwig Schneider worked as war correspondent. He is the founder of nai publishing company, which publishes the magazines ‘israel heute’ and ‘israel today’. His son Aviel has taken Ludwig’s place as chief editor.
Was Jesus a natural superman who performed incredible acts, or was He a supernatural guru who still puts many people under His spell today? No other person has been a more prevalent subject of literature and no one has been depicted by artists more frequently and varied than Jesus. Jesus has been portrayed dating back to first century graffiti found in catacombs, through paintings and statues which adorn churches and fill museums or the famous Passion Plays of Oberammergau, as well as many motion pictures.
However, ‘a miss is as good as a mile’: Most treatises either ignore purposely or unwit-tingly the fact that Jesus was first of all a Jew and that He did not intend to create a new religion but rather wanted to bring reformation to the Jews in order to cause them to re-turn to their God. That this reformation movement, which the New Testament calls ‘dis-ciples of Jesus,’ was later joined by non-Jews as well, merits an analysis.
No church separate from Judaism existed during Jesus’ time on earth, nor during the time of the apostles, but rather the joint creed of faith in one single God, whom the Jews call Yahweh or Jehovah, or, to be precise, JHWH. When people once asked Jesus how they should pray, He pointed them to the ‘Schma Israel’- prayer of the Jews, which ac-knowledges JHWH as the only God. Thus, Jewish and Christian faith is supported by a common root.
The first Christians met daily in the temple. They did not detach themselves from Juda-ism despite their being ‘full of the Holy Ghost’ and continued to keep the Jewish com-mandments and customs. However, during church history the church distanced itself so far from its Jewish heritage that many Christians today don’t even realize that Jesus was a Jew. “What mortal break the band that heaven has knit?” Friedrich Schiller’s rhyme is applicable in our case too, because in our time that which belongs together is joined once again, as Jews and Christians discover their common root.
Not what we are today, but what we were yesterday, will we be tomorrow, meaning Jews and Christians will be reunited again. Even as the Jews were dispersed among the nations nearly 2000 years ago, so they are now returning to Zion. Since 1948, Jews from over 140 nations have already returned to Israel. Even so Jews and Christians will re-connect and this will not just be an ecumenical interlude. It will be of eternal value.
The Bible often speaks in pictures. It talks for example about Jews and Christians sing-ing in eternity in a mixed choir: Together with Jews, Christians will sing the Old Testa-ment ‘Song of Moses’ and together with Christians, the Jews will sing the New Testa-ment ‘Song of the Lamb.’ Furthermore, Jews and Christians will live in the same heav-enly city of Jerusalem, whose gates will display the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and her foundation stones the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. This means that no anti-Semitic person will enter through these gates, nor will any anti-Christian person have the right to live there. This picture also shows the unity of Jews and Christians.
Jews and Christians were created for one another like Adam and Eve. According to the biblical account, Eve was created from Adam’s side. In order for Eve to be formed, Adam had to fall into a deep sleep. He was not killed, only anæsthetized, because Eve was not to replace Adam but rather to complement him. In the same way, the church was not to replace, but to complete Israel. When Eve was complete, Adam awoke and both realized that they were one flesh and bone. Without this belonging together there can be no reproduction. That is why a church can only then be a truly growing church inwardly and outwardly, if it is one with the Jews.
To some people such thoughts may appear to be unrealistic. However, with God every-thing is quite logical and evident. The biblical promise that the same God who dispersed the Jews among the nations would bring them back to Zion as well has become a politi-cal reality. Through the victory of the Romans in the year 70 AD, the Jews were dis-persed throughout the entire world. In 1898 Herzl propagated his idea to form a Jewish state, resulting in Zionism. Yet, only through the Holocaust did the Zionist concept fi-nally result in the founding of the state of Israel. Simultaneously the awareness is grow-ing that Jesus was a Jew and that, because Jesus was a Jew, Jews and Christians draw life from one and the same root.
There is a further correlation. Even, as Christians are finally realizing that the church has been grafted into the Jewish tree of faith, there is also among the Jews a turning toward Jesus, whom they as messianic Jews call ‘Yeshua’ in biblical manner.
Even Arabic Christians, who reject Israel from a political standpoint, must recognize the Jewish state from a spiritual standpoint, since they also are related to the Jewish state by their faith in the redeemer, Jesus. The complete foundation of their faith is rooted in the Bible, which consists of Jewish writings and doctrines. This gives us hope that we will once again live in the peaceful harmony that existed between Christians and Jews at the beginning of Christianity. Not what we are today, but what we were yesterday, will we be tomorrow.
Published in “Reflexionen” Christmas edition of IVCG.