Summary: To really be able to understand and immitate Jesus we have to understand His Jewishness and the Jewish time and culture into which He was born.
A. As you know, most religious groups have identifying characteristics.
1. A kindergarten teacher gave her class a "show and tell" assignment of bringing something to represent their religion.
2. The first boy got in front of the class and said, "My name is Benjamin and I am Jewish and this is the Star of David."
3. The second boy got in front of the class and said, "My name is Joseph, I’m am Catholic and this is the Crucifix."
4. The third boy got in front of the class and said, "My name is Tommy and I worship with the church of Christ and this is a casserole." (We sure like our fellowship meals!)
B. Maybe you’ve heard the old story about a Jewish lawyer who was troubled by the way his son turned out, and went to see his Rabbi about it.
1. "I brought him up in the faith, gave him a very expensive bar mitzvah, cost me a fortune to educate him. Then he tells me last week he has decided to be a Christian. Rabbi, where did I go wrong?"
2. "Funny you should come to me," said the Rabbi. "Like you, I, too, brought my boy up in the faith, put him through University, cost me a fortune, then one day he comes and tells me he has decided to become a Christian."
3. "What did you do?" asked the lawyer.
4. "I turned to God for the answer," replied the rabbi.
5. "And what did he say?" God said, "Funny you should come to me..."
6. The Jewishness of Jesus is not something that we give enough attention to.
C. In our series about Jesus called, “Devoted to Jesus,” we are trying to take a fresh look at Jesus.
1. We want to see Him clearly so that we can understand Him and imitate Him.
2. Last week we talked about the fact that the story of Jesus doesn’t begin with His earthly life, but actually begins with His eternal life.
3. Jesus is God and was with God in the beginning and through Him all things were made.
4. Last week we focused on the eternal Jesus; today we want to talk about the earthly Jesus.
D. At one point in history, our eternal God became an earthly man, and that earthly man named Jesus was Jewish.
1. Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4-5, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”
2. Think about this for just a moment: Jesus is the only person in history who had the privilege of choosing where and when to be born.
3. And where and when did he choose to be born?
4. He chose to be born into a pious Jewish family living in a backwater region of the Roman Empire at the end of what we call the 1st Century.
5. We can no more understand Jesus apart from His Jewishness, than we can understand Gandhi apart from his Indianness.”
6. The first point that I want to make this morning is…
I. Jesus Was Jewish
A. I realize making the statement “Jesus was Jewish” is not an earth-quaking and eye-opening one for most of us because we study Scripture and talk about OT and NT all the time.
1. But some people are surprised by that statement.
2. They might say something like, “I thought Jesus was Christian, not Jewish!”
3. The confusion comes from the fact that being “Jewish” is both an ethnic and a religious thing.
4. Some modern day Jewish people cherish their ethnic history, but give no attention to the Jewish religion. Some, on the other hand, are very devoted to both.
5. The earliest participants in Christianity were Jewish Christians - Jews ethnically, Christian religiously.
6. Jesus and the family that He came from were proud to be Jewish ethnically and religiously.
7. Jesus lived as a Jew under the OT covenant, He fulfilled it, and then He issued the New Covenant.
B. When we turn to the Gospels, Jesus’ true-blue Jewishness leaps out at us.
1. Matthew’s first sentence reads, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Mt. 1:1)
2. Matthew opens his Gospel, not as we might be tempted to begin, with a teaser on “How this book will change your life,” but rather with a dry list of names – the genealogy of Jesus.
3. Matthew chose a representative sampling from 42 generations of Jews in order to establish Jesus’ royal bloodline.
4. Amazingly, the peasant family of Joseph and Mary could trace their lineage back to some impressive ancestors, including Israel’s greatest king, David, and its original founder, Abraham.