We have gone through portraits of Jesus presented in the Gospels by looking at Jesus through his Jewish lens. In doing so we have seen two over-riding themes.
- The Jews have led in making contributions to mankind in many fields of activity. However, their story is mixed with immense suffering and sorrow.
- Jesus has participated, even headed, this totality of Jewish experience. We see this in the numerous parallel patterns. We look at a few more, including the modern revival of Hebrew.
Jewish Contributions to Mankind’s Progress
Consider the following in light of the fact that the total Jewish population is 15.2 million, 0.19% of the 8 billion worldwide population.
- From 1901 to 2021 Jews have accounted for 22% of all worldwide individual recipients for all of the Nobel Prizes. (summing all the chemistry, literature, physics, economics, medicine, and peace prizes of the Nobel Prize series)
- Jews have been awarded 38% of the US National Medal of Sciences.
- Japan’s coveted Kyoto Prize (both for arts and sciences achievements) has been awarded to Jews 24% of the time.
- The Grande Médaille of the French Academy of Sciences has been awarded to Jews 48% of the time.
- Of the members of the Scientific British Royal Society (wiki summary) 26% have been Jewish since 1901.
We have surveyed Jews who have significantly impacted modern society:
- Karl Marx,
- Albert Einstein,
- Sigmund Freud,
- Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook,
- Sergiy Brin & Larry Page of Google,
- the Rothschilds and George Soros,
- Stan Lee of Marvel Comics,
- Ukrainian President Zelensky,
- Bill Mahar, Seth Rogen, Sasha Baron Cohen,
- Isaac Asimov, William Shatner & Leonard Nimoy.
We learned how Jews led in the initial development of the first alphabet. Innovation on many fronts continues to overflow from them.
But it is not as though Jews have had an easy time riding the wake of success. The stories of Anne Frank, Simon bar Kochba, the Maccabees, Richard Wurmbrand, Natan Sharansky, and the repeated expulsions of Jews across Europe in the Middle Ages into modern times culminating in the Holocaust illustrate this. They are the only people for which a term for unsuppressed hatred and persecution specifically against them needed creating (anti-Semitism). Along with their propensity for innovation, an adversarial principle seems to continually confront them.
In fact, Jewish success often raises the fears of others that they control society, harbouring sinister intentions to take over. These fears, though unfounded, seem to spread through many social sectors. Many times they have been the cause of anti-Semitic outbreaks.
On other occasions, success for certain Jews has raised questions resulting in backlashes against Jews as a whole. The Russian oligarchs associated with Russian President Putin serve as an example. Of the 210 Russian oligarchs worth more than $1 billion, 20 of them, or 10%, are Jewish. This is far above the per capita Russian Jewish population at 0.16% of the Russian population. Prominent among these Russian-Jewish oligarchs are Roman Abramovich, Petr Aven, Boris Berezovsky, Mikhail Fridman, Vladimir Gusinsky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Alexander Smolensky. Six of the top seven Russian oligarchs are Jewish. This weighting has started creating the impression that the oligarchs are all Jewish. Here again, Jewish talent has exerted a disproportionate influence, and with the scrutiny of the oligarchs some fear a coming anti-semitic backlash.
The Power Shaping Jewish Destiny
So how to explain Jewish ability as well as their history of sorrows?
The Bible provides an explanation for the unique trajectory of the Jewish people. At the call of Abraham 4000 years ago, the One Calling him declared:
2 “I will make you into a great nation,Genesis 12: 2-3
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
Then five hundred years later (15oo BCE) this Same Presence, through Moses, pronounced Blessings & Curses. Moses predicted these would shape global history going forward, and they have.
Later (750 BCE), Isaiah, also in the name of that Same Power, predicted repeatedly that
I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;Isaiah 42:6
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
Nations will come to your light,Isaiah 60:3
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
These pronouncements line up with what we see recorded in history, and also happening in the world today. History did not have to follow the path of these decrees after Isaiah wrote them down thousands of years ago.
But it did.
It still does.
We should take note.
This shows a single-minded Intent, Purpose and Power behind these statements demonstrating itself through history. Intent and purpose come only from persons. Since this intent and purpose spans thousands of years it cannot come simply from human purposes. God shows His Hand through these Promises.
Jesus leads the Jewish Experience
We also saw that Jesus participated with his fellow Jews in the totality of their experience, both in the heights and the depths. It is not just that, as we saw, Jesus’ career has similarities with that of some well-known Jews. But his experiences match that of the Jewish nation. He typifies national Israel.
Jesus’ Resurrection & the Jewish Hebrew Revival
For example, the Jews underwent a national death when the Romans expelled them from the Biblical land and exiled from it for 1900 years. During that time their national language, Hebrew, died. For hundreds of years Jews ceased to speak Hebrew in everyday conversation. Without their own native language a nation of people cannot live. But the Hebrew language recently revived.
The revival of Hebrew began when the Russian-born Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, self-taught in Hebrew, chose to speak Hebrew with fellow Jews in Paris on October 13, 1881. This recorded the first time in hundreds of years that Hebrew had been spoken in everyday conversation. Shortly afterwards, moving to Jerusalem, Ben Yehuda tried to persuade other Jewish families to speak Hebrew. He developed dictionaries, wrote plays for children in Hebrew, published a Hebrew newspaper.
His efforts met with limited success since after ten years only four families spoke Hebrew conversationally. Obstacles loomed. Parents were reluctant to educate their children in Hebrew, an impractical language. Hebrew schoolbooks did not exist. However, by the early 20thcentury Hebrew began to gain traction. Today over 9 million people speak it. As Wikipedia says of the revival of Hebrew.
The process of Hebrew’s return to regular usage is unique; there are no other examples of a natural language without any native speakers subsequently acquiring several million native speakers,
Jesus died and then rose from the dead, a one-of-a-kind event. In the same way, Israel died and then came alive again as a nation with the one-of-a-kind revival of Hebrew.
Jesus and the Torah Festivals
Jews, as a nation, celebrate the festivals prescribed through Moses 3500 years ago. As a nation they celebrate Passover, Sabbath, First Fruits and Pentecost. These festivals partly embody and define them as Jews.
Jesus underwent his:
- crucifixion on Passover,
- resting-in-death on Sabbath,
- resurrection on First Fruits,
- and sending of the Holy Spirit for new hearts on Pentecost.
Thus, Jesus embodies and represents these festivals as no other Jew, Moses included, has ever done.
Jesus’ career did not embody the remaining Feasts prescribed by Moses. These occur in September-October: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. However, Jesus announced that he would return again, and that the time of his coming would be precisely planned. His First Coming precisely matched the timing of the spring festivals. So it stands to reason that his Second Coming will precisely match the timing of these fall festivals.
Revived and Returning
Here again, in the mere expectation of his Second Coming, we see Jesus’ career, viewed through the span of history, typifying that of national Israel. During their long exile from the Biblical land they celebrated annually the Passover in exile with the phrase that became tradition: “Next year in Jerusalem“. As a nation they anticipated a return to the Land. As a nation they have returned within our lifetimes. Jesus likewise has left the Biblical land and has been absent for over 2000 years. But, like his nation, has promised his return. He said that the return of the Jews to the Biblical land was a sign that his return was ‘near’. So he linked the two returns.
Reach Out to the Presence at Work
Many think of Jesus solely through the stained-glass window of Christendom’s history in Europe and the Americas. Therefore he is often seen simply as a dusty, (somewhat) historical figure who lived long ago. Perhaps he is a cultural relic that has perhaps some traditional value, but no potent relevance to our lives today.
But the Bible, from its beginning and right to its end, written thousands of years later, presents him as the Offspring of the Woman (Israel). It also presents him as the Christ, destined to return and reign.
From the Beginning…
And I will put enmityGenesis 3:15 (in writing as far back as we know, more details here)
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
To the last pages in its final book…
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth…Revelation 12:1-2
5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.Revelation 12:5 (written 1st Century CE)
We can see in the news headlines today that the ‘Woman’ is reviving. Since the Son is hers, tangibly linked to her, then we would not be foolish to reach out to Him. If we do, even without complete understanding, then we can experience his promise that
…he is not far from any one of us.Acts 17:27b
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.2 Peter 3: 9
For Further Reflection
- How Jesus’ Passion Week actions are in rhythm with Creation Week events. So this shows a choreography that spans thousands of years – which no human mind can orchestrate.
- A rationale examination of the Resurrection. Is there historical evidence to support it?
- Why did Jesus die on the cross? What does it mean for me and you?
- How our recent world experiences with COVID provide an illustration to understand the meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice.