Now we come to it - the main reason I started this series.
Two years ago I picked up a book called Why the Jews Rejected Jesus. It is a well written book composed in the aftermath of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Over the course of three days I read the entire thing in the Barnes and Noble coffee shop. It was an interesting read and I would recommend it to anyone. This is the quote that spurred on this series:
"...if Christians are right about Jesus, then many generations of Jews and other peoples have missed out on the very climax of history, the ministry and death of Jesus Christ. It happened, but we weren't paying attention."
I want to be very careful at this point, for I have some beliefs about the Jews and the book of Romans that quite possibly many of my evangelical brothers and sisters do not and will not share. (As always, I welcome discussion on this and sharpening.)
It's all about that verse, "All Israel will be saved." Yep. It is a tough one (for many) to say the least. I'm still not 100% on where I stand on the mysterious matter but here's what I'm pretty sure of: I think that the reality of Jesus as Messiah was hidden from most of Israel so that we, the Gentiles, could be grafted in. This puts the "Vessels of mercy/vessels of wrath" statement of Paul in its proper perspective, as Paul was addressing Israel being made a "vessel of wrath" for our sake. So, will all Israel be saved? I don't know. What about a murderous, unrepentant Jew? Again, judgment isn't mine to dole out, that's God's business. There have been volumes of apologetics written on (arguing about) the matter. On the protestant side we have the reaction - "Nope, gotta have faith. We are all in the same boat." Then you have the Catholic side: (from the Catechism)
"840 And when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus."
I tend to lead towards the latter, as it essentially postulates that God knows the outcome and we do not. Above all things I am called to Love. And Love and friendship are the purest channels for which the Good News flows, in my mind.
And so here we are. The quote from "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus" poses an interesting question or two.
This doesn't mean that Jews now cannot believe in Jesus. It simply means that the reason for their turning away - since the coming of Christ - has been purposed, and the fullness of that purpose is pretty mysterious business.
I do believe that His coming was the climax of history. I do believe that all thought - religious and philosophical - at that time (those two weren't as nearly separated back then) was primed and ready for the coming of the Messiah, the revealing of God's Son, the Logos, the Word, the firstborn of all creation. And if you think that no Jewish philosopher could relate to God having a Son, or conceive of three persons, then you haven't met Philo. Let me be clear here: I'm not trying to state that the Jews believed in a tri-part God. I am saying that this notion was not very far from the thought at the time and that God came at the climax of our collective understanding - understanding without direct divine revelation that is, and that includes the Jews. And it would also make sense that a Jewish philosopher named Philo would come the closest to that revelation, or in some ways, "prepare the way."
(to be continued.)