Orthodox Judaism/Jesus in Passover?
QUESTION: Dear Sir,
I have recently been approached by a Christian acquaintance who asked me why Jews don't accept Jesus as our Passover sacrifice that they believe us the ultimate sacrifice for the remission of sin. I know why we celebrate Passover but was unprepared for his question. Can you help? Thank you and happy Passover.
Thank you for your kind question. You say that you have been approached by a Christian missionary asking why you don't accept Jesus as your passover sacrifice and accept his perfect sacrifice for your sins:
Before we begin let me first say that we Jews have absolutely no problem with Christians following their faith. Same with Muslims and indeed, we are pleased that they too have found a relationship with the Almighty. It is only when another's religion causes them to act in a violent or immoral way or when it causes its followers to feel that they are the only ones who have found THE truth or they alone have a relationship with G-d and can be called children of G-d (and when that exclusivity causes them to feel the need to missionize Jews) do we take a stand. As Jews we already have our covenant with G-d and need nothing else.
On the Passover and sacrifice issue there are a number of problems:
First, Jesus could not have been a "perfect sacrifice" in that the Hebrew Scriptures require that sacrifices be without blemish. Jesus was circumcised as a child and thus was blemished in his flesh from his eighth day of life. Additionally he was scourged unmercifully before his execution. Any animal with either blemish would be quickly and summarily rejected as a potential sacrifice.
Second, his blood was not poured out upon the altar or offered by a priest. Further, it is clear from the Hebrew Scriptures that God abhors human sacrifice.
Third, the Passover sacrifice was not a sin offering; it had nothing to do with sin. They often cite "not a bone shall be broken" in speaking of the Roman guards not breaking his legs to hasten death (to satisfy the Passover requirement). However studies have shown that to hang someone from a cross the flesh is not strong enough to hold the body up and so the nails would have had to go through bone to support the weight of the condemned. In fact I saw on a documentary not long ago where they had excavated a heel bone from Jesus' time in which the person had been crucified. The nail remained in the bone. They did make mention of the fact that not many of these had been found because of the fact they recycled the nails and this is probably a case where they simply could not get the nail out. Finally, it is important to note that there were no sacrifices in the Hebrew Scriptures which atone for intentional sin. So even if Jesus was a legitimate sacrifice and even if he was the ultimate sacrifice, Christians find themselves still bound with their intentional sins, at least from the sacrificial perspective.
I believe Christians ask the wrong questions. This is to be expected since they start with the conclusion and work backwards to prove their conclusion. So here are two questions I would ask them:
The first question I would ask is where in the Hebrew Scriptures does it say that a Messiah is required for salvation?
In answer, if one were to use Deuteronomy 18:15, then one must admit that Jesus was simply a man like Moses (for that's what the verse says). Further, the rest of Deuteronomy 18 deals with those appointed by God for some specific function. This includes the priest and the prophet. The last paragraph of Deuteronomy 18 clearly states that if what the prophet predicts does not come true that he was not indeed a true prophet. Since the Temple was not rebuilt in three days after it's destruction (and while they will say he was speaking figuratively, he was very specific in talking about the stones in the ruin which does not lend itself to a figurative meaning); Everything that man asks for in Jesus' name does not come true; And Jesus followers did not see him returning to Earth triumphantly as he predicted, to name a few; Jesus could only be labelled a false prophet.
The Obvious follow up question would be where and Hebrew Scriptures does it say that the covenant will change with Messiah or better yet that the Jewish religion would be tossed out and a new religion, Christianity, would be started by him?
That the Torah is eternal is something which is repeated throughout the Torah (nearly 50 times) where as Jesus's statement that one can only come to know God through him is mentioned only once (while lesser important events and teachings, such as feeding numerous people with 2 small fishes are in several Gospels). This fails the two witness test:
"Also, in your own Law it is written, ‘The witness of two men is true.’ John 8:17,18
And it is remarkable that G-d would rest man's eternity and soul on a single verse when He revealed our covenant to 6 million witnesses; an occurrence not questioned by either of the other Abramaic faiths!
My next question would be who gave the 10 commandments; who created the world; who wrestled with Jacob?
If the answer is Jesus then according to their own Scriptures we had a relationship with him long before they did:
"For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father," (John 6:65)
If the answer is the Father then have not Jews had a relationship with the Father for 2000+ years prior to Jesus' appearance:
"Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me," (John 14:6)
Both of the answers of course revolve around their belief that Jesus is an eternal part of God:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am," (John 8:58)
The problem is they only look at the relationship prospectively rather than retrospectively.
And if the answer is G-d (all three [sic]) then the answer is the same: we had a relationship with the Almighty for some 2500 years before they did.
Embrace your own faith and recall the words of Mohammed, PBUH:
"To them their faith and to me mine"
Shalom and chag kasher v'sameach!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you very much. That all makes perfect sense and I'll ask those questions. One other thing he mentioned was Daniels prophecy and how it predicted Jesus would come before the Temple fell?
Thank you for the kind follow-up. As you probably know already, Daniel was written by 2 and maybe 3 authors. You may also know that Daniel is not considered a prophet by Judaism; their works appear in our Writings rather than our Prophets. The 'weeks'' arguments aside (where all the weeks are sequential and stand for a given time period except the last which stands for whatever is ultimately convenient for Christian theology), Daniel I chronicals the Babylonian exile (whose messiah or annointed one is King Cyrus) and Daniel II chronicles the Maccabean revolt (whose messiah or annointed one is Judas the Maccabee- whose actions we celebrate at Hanukkak, as did the Disciples). Daniel II is right on target up until about the middle of the war when he may have been killed. There is no mention or even allusion to Jesus in Daniel. I watched "The Bible" miniseries the other night and it has Daniel saying that a man will come who all the nations will worship. This seems like an odd statement given Daniel's assertion that he and the Jews will only worship HaShem. Indeed, it is literary license and Daniel says no such thing. Messiah will come, but he will never be worshipped and certainly will not be G-d or any part of Him. Shema Yisroel HaShem elohenu HaShem echad. Trust in Him, accept no substitutes.