Amy Grant is a born-again Christian rock/pop star. Among her big hits is El Shaddai. Someone I know heard the song and found the following lyrics to be quite offensive:
"Through the years you've made it clear,
That the time of christ was near,
Though the people couldn't see
What messiah ought to be.
Though your word contained the plan,
They just could not understand
Your most awesome work was done
Through the frailty of your son."
My friend wrote, "Pardon me, Ms. Grant, but my people during the Second Mikdash era did have a clear profile of what the Davidic Messiah would and would not be. They most certainly did understand that Jesus did not fulfill said profile, just as Shimon Bar Kochva didn't."
Although Jews may be offended when Christians, through preaching or music, indicate that Jews were religiously blind when Jesus appeared 2000 years ago, we have to understand that this idea is one of the important points of Christian theology. And even though the idea comes straight out of Christian writings, it is still a thorn in the side of many fundamentalist Christians today. In 1966, a survey was taken, under the aegis of the Anti Defamation League, to determine what Christian attitudes towards Jews were, post Holocaust, at mid-century. One of the questions asked of Christians [both among Catholics and Protestants] was: How fo you feel about Jews from a Christian point of view. The answers were almost unanimous. The average Christian response was that the Jews have suffered and will continue to suffer until they repent of their crime against God. What is the crime? The crime has nothing to do with the death of Jesus. The crime is that the Jews continue to reject Jesus. Personally, I think that if Christians knew the truth, they's be more offended.
The truth is that Jews do not reject Jesus. They do worse They IGNORE Jesus. The recent anger over the politically correct use of Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas is an expression on the part of some Christians to force Jesus down the thoats of unbelieving Jews. Saying Mery Christmas does not bother me in the least - but then I am immune to many things about Christians that bother most liberal Jews.
Contrary to popular opinion today, during the time of the Second Temple, Jews did NOT have a clear idea of what a messiah would be. And the same is true today. The Jews of 2000 years ago had to rely on passages from the Bible to tell them about the messiah, and since these passages come from different Biblical authors who wrote at different periods in jewish history, the ideas about messiah that these authors wrote are often contradictory. Long after Christianity became its own religion, the Amoraim were debating about what messiah would mean to the world. You can read these arguments in the GEMARAH.
Jews in the Second Temple era were much less monolithic than are Jews today when it comes to belief. The Jews of Galilee were very different from the Jews of Judea in their religious expressions. Contrary to what modern rabbis would have you believe, the Pharisees were NOT the most popular party in Roman Palestine. In the north, the two most popular parties were the Zealots and the Nazarenes. Both of these parties held many beliefs in common, and although their methods of expressing their "Judaism" were different, philosophically they were very simpatico towards one another, and it was not unusual for members of the Nazarene Party to also belong to the Zealot Party cotemporaneously.
The war against Rome ended in disaster for the Jews in more than one way. The victory of the Romans spelled the end of the Zealot Party. The Pharisees, as the Party of appeasement, became the de facto leaders of the Jewish People both in ERETS YISRAEL and the diaspora. In Galilee, the Nazarenes still held on to adherents but many of those who had believed in Jesus as messiah dropped their belief after Jesus failed to return to help the Jews in the war against Rome.
Before the war, Paul had to explain to his gentile Christians why, although Jesus was the king of Israel, why relatively few Jews accepted him as anyone special. Sometime during the fifth decade of the first century, he wrote a letter to one of the two communities of believers in Rome, although it is not clear whether his Epistle To The Romans is intended for the Jewish Nazarenes in Rome or for the smaller gentile
Church there. In his epistle, he clearly points out that the reason Jews in his day have not yet accepted Jesus is that God has purposely blinded them to who Jesus is so that the message of Jesus [Paul's own idea of who Jesus is] can be brought to the gentiles. After all the gentiles are brought into the fold, and ONLY after that, will God open the eyes of the Jews so that they will at last accept Jesus as the messiah. It's true that this is a very convoluted theology simply because God could accomplish the acceptance of Jesus by the world in more lofical way. For example, He could openwide the eyes of the Jews so that they become strong belivers in Jesus and then all Jews could go out in strength and missionize all the gentiles. Since that did not happen, Christians remain in the embarrasing position of being part of a religion wherein their
God and His Nazarene Representative belong to the people of another religion. Now that's real irony on God's part. It's downright mean of Him to do this to His Church.
What Amy Grant and other Christians like her accomplish by sayng that the Jews just didn't understand their own Bible is that they justify their own weak theology and at the same time subtly insult Jews and discharge their anger at the Jews for their obvious lack of need for Jesus. Most Jews simply do not realize how codependent Christians are on Jesus. Should a day come when it is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus died and remained dead, the degree of Christian religious mourning and emotional pain would be something beyond the grasp of most Jews.
As long as their is a Christianity, Christians are going to say explicitly "the messiah HAS come", and implicitly, "and the Jews be damned." That's the reason that the Catholic Church will never get rid of their prayer for the conversion of Israel. Therefore don't be too angry at Christians for their statement that Jews do not know their own scripture or who their messiah is because Christianity has a built-in insult at it's base. It is the ONLY religion on earth that relies on the people of ANOTHER religion for its completion and its fullfillment. The frustration and anger go on and becomes more unbearable in a world in which you can no longer burn Jews at the stake for refusing baptism. And people like Amy Grant have no shame in announcing it in public through song because like many Christians they are ignorant of the fact that they are carrying on an antisemitic expression of resentment at having to rely on a savior for their salvation while Jews rely on their good deeds and their own self-sufficiency for whatever salvation that awaits.
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