Thursday, February 17, 2011

Holy Land Pilgrimage – Lessons from Jewish Believers

Note: In January 2011 my wife and I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This post is part of a series of blogs I have written to convey what I learned while on this life changing trip. You can read about the entire trip in the devotional book Touching the Footprints of Jesus.

While in Israel, my wife and I stayed two nights in the lovely city of Tiberius. One evening a Messianic Jew and her husband came to the motel after supper to meet with us. We spent time looking at some scriptures that prophecy about the Jews returning to the land. The couple shared their belief that Jesus would come soon in fulfillment of all those prophecies. It was extremely interesting to hear such things from the perspective of Jewish believers.

The couple then led us in a time of worship. They sang many of the common worship choruses that are popular around the world right now. But they sang them in both English and Hebrew. Listening to someone praising the Lord in His native tongue was deeply moving. The couple shared how they invite people to their home and share a simple meal with them. In the process of sharing a meal, they also share their faith that Jesus is the Messiah. It was such a simple and yet profound ministry concept.

I was fascinated to hear how they had to avoid certain cultural taboos while still remaining faithful to the truth of the Bible. They had spent a great deal of time thinking through how to share the Gospel in a way that their fellow Jews would be able to understand it. It was a great example of the importance of the contextualization of the Gospel without abandoning the Gospel. For example, they prefer to use the term “Messiah” instead of “Christ.” It is not that they do not like the word “Christ,” but it is simply that the Jews are not looking for a “Christ.” The Jews are looking for a Messiah that will redeem them from their sin. Therefore, this couple uses the word “Messiah” instead of the word “Christ.” The meaning is the same, but the cultural trappings make it an easier word to use in a non-Christian culture.

As the United States moves farther and farther away from a Christian cultural influence, those of us who labor to share the Gospel can take a lesson from these dear servants of the Lord in Israel. We must ask the Lord to show us how to share the never changing message of the Gospel in ways that our non-Christian culture in America can understand. As we learn to be faithful to the Gospel while communicating that Gospel in a way that others can understand, we will have the joy of seeing God draw many people to Himself through our witnessing efforts.


  1. Just read your latest blog, Terry.

    We can learn a lot about witnessing to non-Christians from that Jewish couple. Nice job!

    keep on bloging and preaching, Terry!!!

    God bless,


  2. I like this.

  3. Great reads, keep em' coming!

  4. Thank you for the amazing insight you got through these Messianic Jews. When most of people around us have never been to church, and have no concept of God in any form it's important to establish a bridge where they feel comfortable with you and you are able to share the good news of the gospel. The Lord has been gracious to let me publish a ladies newsletter through my local church. I have gotten numerous stories of how this affect the people that it is sent too. I is amazing to see how God takes a simple devotion, recipes, Bible trivia and turns it into something that can enlighten, edify and bring the lost to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We have a couple with 7 children that just tracked across the US from CA to NH in a 26 ft. RV. Testimonies of God working in a persons life are the most simple but most inspiring to those whose think their lives are in the dump.
    Thanks again and let us hear more from time to time as I know you are busy ministering.

  5. I like this.

  6. I started using the name Messiah a lot more after using it with some JW’s who came to the door. I invited them in using the name Messiah. I was stunned when THAT NAME caused them to turn on their heels and leave. I was stunned. Didn’t they KNOW what the word CHRIST means? They study, study, study constantly. I was shocked.

    So now I use the name Messiah at church, home, out and about. It is a name so filled with promise, assurance, love.

    There were many messiahs in Jesus’ day and before His day. But none of them arose from the dead and none of them had agape love for all humanity.

    I’m so glad you had this joyful experience with completed Jews.

    We enjoyed visiting them when we visited a church of theirs near Boston. The time spent in their worship service and fellowship time afterward was like “heaven on earth.”

    With continued prayer and much praise to Jesus for the answers He is sending your way,

  7. Thank you for sharing this thought. Indeed a valuable lesson! Could not agree more about our need to keep this in mind. I also love to hear people pray and praise God in their native tongue. It is quite moving to imagine God hearing all this worship. It makes God bigger than I'd previously perceived and that makes sense.

  8. WOW! That must have been so cool. I would like to visit a Messianic Jewish service sometime.

  9. H. B. and Jo GravesFebruary 19, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    Praise t he Lord you got to go and that Kay got to go as well.
    God bless....HB and JO