Happy Passover and Easter!
I love this time of year. As a Jewish believer in Jesus, my faith and love for my heritage converge in perfect harmony during the Passover/Easter season. during this season, we celebrate the coming of the perfect Lamb of God, which was predicted in the biblical passages that tell the story of Passover and in Isaiah chapter 53. He is the One who died for our sins, rose from the grave, and ascended to heaven—and now we wait patiently for His return!
Chosen People Ministries will have more Jewish people attend our Passover Seders and come to faith in Jesus during this season than at any other time of year. So please pray for us as we have Messianic Passover Seders in dozens of cities in North America and in sixteen other countries around the globe where we serve among the Jewish people.
Passover in the Bible
Passover is an eight-day festival that combines the one-day Feast of Passover with the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As Moses said to the children of Israel, “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread” (Leviticus 23:5–6).
Jewish people traditionally observe the holiday by celebrating a Passover Seder (Hebrew for “order”), or dinner, on the first two nights of the holiday.
Growing up in a Jewish home in New York City, my family always attended the Seder led by my grandfather in Brooklyn. He was a very religious Jewish man, and I loved him dearly. He had fled eastern Europe before the First World War, as Jewish people were terribly persecuted, and came to the “Golden Land” of America where he hoped to live as a Jewish man without fear.
I am sorry to say he was not very happy when I became a believer in Jesus at nineteen years of age. No matter how many times I explained it and attended all of our traditional family holiday celebrations, my faith was still foreign to my beloved grandparents.
It is not easy being Jewish and believing in Jesus. I often feel like an outsider in my own family and community. But Passover is a great comfort and joy to me since it is evident that Yeshua fulfills the festival in so many glorious ways. The lamb of Exodus 12 points to Jesus. The lamb was killed and it’s blood shed so that the firstborn sons of the Israelites would be spared. Now, we understand that this points to the blood of the perfect Lamb that spares us from the consequences of our sin! As Paul, the great Jewish apostle wrote, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We have this great gift of salvation through His shed blood and atoning sacrifice.
Jesus was sinless and innocent. According to the prophet Isaiah, this perfect lamb would die an undeserving death and rise from the grave (Isaiah 53:10–12). This is the triumphant message of grace and redemption—for the One who died now lives forever, and we will live forever with Him.
Paul summarized forever the heart of the gospel message to the believers in Corinth when he wrote, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). I know you might be reading quietly, but feel free to give a shout of Hallelujah! I just did!
My Spiritual Forefather:
Rabbi Leopold Cohn
When I first came to faith, I thought I was the only Jewish person in the world who believed in Jesus, aside from my two best friends who were Jewish and led me to the Lord. After a few months, I met representatives of Chosen People Ministries (then called the American Board of Missions to the Jews) and they discipled me.
For a long time, I did not know that Messianic Jews had a history beyond my own generation! It was then that I was introduced to the written testimony and legacy of Rabbi Leopold Cohn, the founder of the Mission I now have the privilege of leading.
Leopold Cohn was a Jewish immigrant from Hungary who came to faith in Jesus the Messiah in 1892. According to his story, while walking the streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan on his way to visit his rabbi, he noticed a sign outside a Dutch Reformed church that piqued his curiosity. The sign welcomed Jewish people to a meeting inside the building. He listened from outside and was intrigued. Afterwards, he spoke with the fiery young Polish Jewish preacher who gave him a copy of the New Testament. Rabbi Cohn then came to faith and was immediately burdened with reaching his people. He began Chosen People Ministries in 1894.
God has sustained Chosen People Ministries. But the real story of the Mission is a story of God’s grace, mercy, and faithfulness.
There is a story behind the story!
I believe that reaching Jewish people for Jesus is at the very heart of God’s plan for the ages. He never rescinded the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1–3) in which He promised to create a people and grant this people a land. God promised He would one day have a vital personal relationship with His people and that the Jewish people would become His vehicle of blessing to the nations.
We must remember the events that are still to come, as one day God will turn the eyes of the Jewish people to Jesus the Messiah and then the Lord will return. This is the promise in Zechariah 12:10 and described in Romans 11:11–15. In that day, I believe wholeheartedly that our Chosen People Global Ministries family will joyfully be “out of work.”
I believe the reason God is faithful to our ministry is because the Jewish people are critical to His strategic plan for accomplishing His holy purposes. The glorious future promised to Israel will one day produce great blessings for the entire world (Genesis 12:3).
Our future is settled… but…
What about today?
We believe what God said in the Bible will come to pass. Yet, we also have the joy of helping to make it happen! We are called to bring the good news of the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. As Paul pens, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
This is the “life verse” of our ministry, and we will continue to proclaim His Word until He returns! I especially hope you will pray for our ministries in New York City, which still has more Jewish people than anywhere else in the world. This is why our international headquarters is in Manhattan, and we have more staff based in the greater New York area than anywhere else. Israel is a close second, of course.
This summer, we are hoping and praying to recruit 125 staff members and volunteers for two weeks of front-line evangelism in New York City. It is not too late for you to come! All you need to do is visit http://www.shalomnyoutreach.com. We will get in touch with you and tell you how you can apply to join us!
Thank you for your love for the Jewish Messiah and His people. Your prayers and support mean so much to us. We could not do this work without you.
He is Risen!