Down the centuries Christians have persecuted Jews, and Jews, for their part, have been indifferent or hostile to Jesus and his teaching. Yet attitudes on both sided have changed in recent years. Here a Jewish commentator explains why.
One of the certain facts about Jesus is that he was a Jew. He was a child of Jewish parents, brought up in a Jewish home and raised in accordance with Jewish tradition. Throughout his life Jesus lived among Jews and his followers were Jewish.
No other Jew in history has rivalled Jesus in the magnitude of his influence. The words and deeds of Jesus the Jew have been, and are, an inspiration to countless millions of men and women. His death marked a turning point in the history of the world. In his name a great religion was founded and Christians have gone forth carrying his message to the remotest corners of the earth. Strange, is it not, that most Jews have given little attention to the life and teaching of this outstanding Jew?
Yes this is true because the Christian followers of Jesus came to cherish beliefs about his life, which no Jew would hold. When the Church persecuted Jews in an effort to convert them, Jewish indifference to Jesus turned to hostility. It is a sad fact of history that the followers of this great Jew have brought so much suffering upon the Jewish people, so that for centuries it was hard for any Jew even to think of Jesus without difficulty. Until recently, most Jews have chosen not to think of him at all.
In more recent times there has been a dramatic change. Jewish scholars have come to study the teaching of Jesus and Jews have striven to appreciate the nobility of his life. A re-evaluation has gradually been taking place and although the hostility of centuries cannot be eliminated in the bling of an eye, nor the traditional Jewish attitude of indifference to Jesus, the signs are encouraging.
Christians also, who have studied the Jewish background of the life of Jesus, have consequently come to admire the true greatness of Judaism and have ceased to affront Jews with the oft-repeated slander that Judaism is nothing but mere set of formalistic rules. Christians have begun to realise the immense debt Christianity owes to Jews and Judaism.
For the majority of Jews, Jesus can never be what he is to Christian hearts. For Jews, not Jesus but God alone is Lord. Yet an increasing number of Jews are proud that Jesus was Jewish; that he was born, lived and died a Jew.