Our boys wore clothes with labels way outside my budget. Because of the generosity of a local doctor and his wife. He had first been a major medical blessing to us with the excellent care he provided. Then he and his wife blew us away with these bags full of cool clothes that their boys had outgrown.
There was a special connection that led to us being dinner guests in each other's home. I don't remember the dinner at their house, but I'll never forget the conversation.
They knew we were Christians, and we knew they were Jewish. I thanked them that night "for how much your people have meant in our lives."
Needless to say, they wanted to know more.
I told them that the life of our family was governed and enriched by divine laws handed down from the Jews. And that the roadmap for our life was full of Scriptures authored almost totally by inspired Jewish writers (Luke is the only Gentile writer of books in the Bible).
Most of all, the most important Person in our lives was a Jewish rabbi from Nazareth. "Our lives have been changed forever by Jesus, who we believe fulfills the Old Testament prophecies of Israel's Messiah. So we owe so much to the Jewish people for the gifts that have come through them."
The doctor's response took me aback. "We have never met Christians like you."
I thought how sad that was. We had simply expressed respect and gratitude, which evidently they didn't often receive.
I guess many of us who follow Yeshua Mashiach don't realize or don't appreciate how Jewish our faith is. Jesus was the only Man who ever lived who could choose His ethnicity. He was born Jewish.
The Torah's book of Deuteronomy says, "The Lord your God has chosen you of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. The Lord did not set His affection to you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you..." (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
We who love the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have - or ought to have - a special love for His people. Not because Israel the country does everything right, or because of anything Israel does or doesn't do. But because of the divine specialness the Jews as a people have, as described by Paul, who was God's Jewish "apostle to the Gentiles."
"Theirs is the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. And from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah" (Romans 9:4-5).
That's why my heart is heavy - along with Jehovah's heart - whenever Jewish people are singled out as targets of hate or violence or prejudice.
And I share Paul's sadness for his people, as well. He agonized over his "heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites...that they may be saved" (Romans 10:1). He knew what Jesus had done in his life. As I do in mine. And he wanted it for those he loved. As I do.
For me, one of the most moving passages in all of Scripture comes from the prophecy of Isaiah: "He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:5-6).
That vividly portrays the death of the one called "the Lamb of God" (John 1:26). Jesus of Nazareth. From the tribe of Judah. God's Lamb. Who died for my sin so I don't have to.
No one has ever loved me like Jesus. Yeshua. Mashiach. Savior.