After writing Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism, Mark Kinzer has often been misunderstood as a Jewish universalist or someone who has no motive for witness of Yeshua to Jewish people. The following are notes from his lecture delivered this morning at the UMJC annual conference. Dr. Brown, are you reading?
Dr. Mark Kinzer
Yeshua, the Glory of God, and the Glory of Israel: Motives for Post-Missionary Messianic Jewish Outreach
What does post-missionary mean? It does not mean ignoring God’s mandate to bear witness to Yeshua. It does not mean that we simply assume that all or most Jewish people are rightly related to God. It does not mean that we simply consider Orthodox Judaism the only valid expression of Jewish life. It means that we believe that God has been actively involved in the formation of Judaism for the last 2,000 years. God is not merely using a human construction. There is something about Jewish life that is a product of God’s work. Yeshua is hidden within Judaism. God has been working and there are hints of him in the tradition of the past 2,000 years. For example, some of the remarkable coincidences we find in the Seder, popularized in Passover presentations in churches, are surely a sign that God has been at work in Jewish tradition.
Neither do we assume that all Jewish people who do not accept Yeshua are at enmity with God. Neither extreme should be assumed.
What motives would we have to bear witness to Yeshua in a post-missionary framework? The only pure motive is love. It is a three-fold love: ahavat HaShem [love of God], ahavat Yisrael [love of Israel], and ahavat Yeshua [love of Yeshua].
Ahavat HaShem: The subject of the Shema. We are to be governed by a theocentric passion. The second blessing preceding the Shema is the ahava rabbah is about God’s abundant love and then we return that love in the Shema. How is God honored most? Yeshua’s prayer focuses on God’s will and glory. The glorification of Messiah Yeshua, whom God sent, is loving God. Thus, we are glorifying and loving HaShem when we bear witness to Yeshua. If we love God we will obey his commandments and Yeshua commands witness.
Ahavat Yisrael: PMJ sees in Yeshua the truth of Jewish identity, calling, and destiny. PMJ boldly claims that Yeshua is the mysterious center of all Jewish history and life. Yeshua is the rock who followed Israel in exile and provided Israel with water and sustenance. Bringing individual Jews into the life to come is too small a goal. We need to bear witness to all Israel of the key that is Yeshua. How can we withhold this key that is for our people? It is our privilege to bear witness to this Joseph, this hidden one, who is actually providing for Israel. Also, we believe that the restoration of Israel and the Glory of Jerusalem will only occur when our people respond to Yeshua with, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of HaShem.” PMJ does not assume that all Jews who reject Yeshua are doomed to Gehinnom. Nevertheless, we must be aware that the spiritual condition of our people today is not good. Agnosticism is high. Love of Torah is low. Few are seeking to live their lives in such a way that the sanctification of God’s name is central. Therefore, if we love our people, we will be concerned about its spiritual welfare. We are making God known as well as making Yeshua known.
Ahavat Yeshua: Yeshua brings love of HaShem and love of Israel together. He is the one in whom and through the God of Israel has made himself known. We see in Yeshua the Beit HaMikdash of this world. We are encountering the one through whom God created the world and through whom God revealed Torah at Sinai and through whom God will redeem this world. Passionate love for Messiah Yeshua is ahavat HaShem. He is the living Torah. Yeshua’s “I am” statements: living water, way, truth, life, resurrection, or just plain “I am.” In Yeshua, God is entering into this world. Our love for God gets focused on Yeshua. Our love for Israel also comes to ultimate expression in the person of Israel, since he is the king of Israel, the revelation of Israel himself. He is the only one who has perfectly observed Torah. He is the High Priest who mediates Israel’s relationship to God. He is the perfect embodiment of Israel’s calling and destiny. Jews reach full identity only when joined to him. “Grace be with all who love our Lord Yeshua with love undying” (from the end of Ephesians). “For me to live is Messiah and to die is gain.” Yeshua is not merely some peripheral piece of Judaism, but he is the hidden core.
Conclusion: The question is not, “Yeshua or Judaism?” The question is, “Do we have Yeshua in Judaism as its fullness or do we have Yeshua apart from Judaism?”