In The Cross Of Messiah I Glory
Daniel C. Juster, Director

The title is a quote from a great old Christian hymn. I have chosen this title after careful reflection. Let me explain my reasons for doing so.

The Messianic Jewish Movement faces many challenges. There are many foundational emphases which must be constantly maintained: The emphasis on the call to Jewish life, the place of Torah in the New Covenant, proper critical and biblical evaluation of Rabbinic Judaism through the absolute authority of scripture, the importance of the power of the Spirit in winning our people to the Messiah, raising up young leaders for the next generation and more. However, I believe the greatest and most important foundational challenge of our movement is maintaining the central place of Yeshua and his death and resurrection in our worship and preaching.

WHY IS IT DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN A YESHUA CENTERED EMPHASIS?

The Messianic Jewish movement usually seeks to identify with those aspects of the Jewish heritage that are good. There is much that is biblical in the Jewish heritage. This heritage emerges from the Hebrew Scriptures, of course, and not the New Covenant Scriptures. One can so emphasize the Jewish heritage that the central emphases of the New Covenant are lost in our worship and preaching. In addition, Messianic Judaism has not yet developed a tradition of worship material with a depth of content that expresses New Covenant realities. We need such a tradition, expressed in a Jewish way.

In addition, there is tremendous opposition in the Jewish religious community to our central New Covenant convictions. For the sake of compatibility with Judaism and to assuage the potential Jewish visitor, New Covenant emphases are sometimes downplayed (even unconsciously) because they are perceived to be a turn off to Jewish people who do not know the Messiah. This produces a service I would call "Yeshua-lite". I believe this is a huge mistake.

THE CENTRALITY OF YESHUA AND HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION IN THE WRITINGS OF PAUL AND THE GOSPELS

In Philippians 3:10, Paul reflects on his own history of zeal for Judaism and concludes: I want to know Messiah and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

This became Paul's central life focus. The centrality of Yeshua's death and resurrection is the pervasive emphasis in the New Covenant Scriptures and the fullest revelation of God's love, a suffering love that is beyond anything that we could have before conceived. All the Gospels emphasize the passion accounts more than any other aspect of the life and ministry of Yeshua. It is in our embrace of the crucified Lord that we find the forgiveness of sin and the transformation of the inner man. Pauline theology is quite clear that transforming power and victory over sin is only found in identification with our crucified Lord. This is an ongoing point of contact for our faith.

Contrary to the view of some, a concentration on the power of the crucifixion is not morbid. Those who have deeply experienced the tragedies and sufferings that this life can bring know that only this focus in the power of the Spirit brings adequate comfort. However, without the resurrection, we would not know the meaning of the cross and its victory. We are resurrected to new life. Entrance into Kingdom life is through the cross and resurrection. We are crucified together with Him (Gal. 2:20) and raised together with Him into new life. (Romans 6:11)

This reality is so awesome that the death and resurrection of Yeshua redefines the Passover-Exodus as a redemption paradigm. It does not, however, replace it; we still celebrate the Passover and our deliverance from Egypt but the center is Yeshua.

POWER FOR EFFECTIVENESS

Our power and effectiveness is dependent on Yeshua's death and resurrection. In John 5, Yeshua explains that the Father is pleased that we honor the Son as we honor the Father. This is astonishing and so very important. Some streams of Christian piety have done a wonderful job of emphasizing this reality: The great liturgy of communion in the historic churches, the great hymnology of the Reformation, the Moravian movement's emphasis on the crucified Yeshua as the basis for our love and devotion, and lastly the hymnology of Charles Wesley. These all show a depth and understanding that is wonderful for our reflection. The effectiveness of these movements is in part to be attributed to this emphasis.

Yet, in many Messianic Jewish services (and might I add much contemporary Christian worship too) there is little of this depth. Our contemporary worship is largely made up of choruses that mention little of what Yeshua did. We may sing, "I love you Yeshua", but do not well tell the story of what He did and why we love Him. His suffering love is not the emphasis of much of today's contemporary worship in general. I do believe that without this emphasis in our preaching and worship, we will see less transformation in our people, less devotion, and less of the presence and power of the Spirit. In addition, our outreach to our people will suffer. The power of God's anointing is more important than not giving offense to our people. We make room for God's anointing (individually and corporately) when we give top priority to Yeshua's death and resurrection (Php 3:10).

THE SOLUTION

The solution is at hand. New Covenant Scriptures contain a number of liturgical or worship passages. For example, Philippians 2:6-11, Hebrews 1:5-13, Paul's creedal confession in I Corinthians 15:3-5 and several passages in the book of Revelation. When the Sh'ma is sung ("Here O Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is One") we need to recognize that this is a basic confession of faith. We cannot be new covenantal unless we also add our confession of what we believe about Yeshua. New Covenant material should be part of standardized liturgy for those who have such liturgy.

The New Covenant can be the basis of writing many Messianic Jewish hymns concerning Yeshua, what He has done, and our victory in him. Passage after passage can be a basis for songwriting.

We cannot be an authentic New Covenant movement unless our worship and teaching have this crucial note of focus on the crucified and risen Lord. I am sure that some of our readers in the larger Church world will also find that this truth has much relevance to them. May God so lead us to glory in the cross of the Messiah.

By Daniel Juster


Dan Juster leads the overall ministry Tikkun International. Donate to Tikkun International.

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Comments:
08:59 19Sep06 Vern Miller -
I heard you first at the Dove conf. last March and found your analysis of the current Israeli/Muslim/western world conflict right on. This article is refreshing and I will use the Jesus-lite exspression. Thanks for your ministry.

09:26 19Sep06 Elizabeth -
I am a GENTILE who has been drawn to the Messianic study. I have tried a few congregations but have not been led to stay. I think this article may have touched on the reason. The worship although good, was more hipped on several traditions of the Jewish faith but leaves out our Lord Christ Jesus, whom I believe the Old Testememt and the Torah points to God's Son and who He is and was and will be. My daughter has written a song that tells of the blood that was put on the Ark of the Covenant as seven times and the blood shed on the cross seven times, it is a powerful song bringing the two together. Thank you for this observation and I too hope for a more deeper meaningful service to emerge.

10:09 19Sep06 anonymous -
Paul taught with courage and conviction because the "mystery" hidden had been revealed to him. When he then brought his message, others had revelation which resulted in a renewed mind. Faith was then present and God confirmed with signs and miracles. We need nothing less.

11:48 19Sep06 Roger Walkwitz -
Well said, Dan, but I would NEVER use the cross as a symbol, as churches do. The Menorah, Rev 1:20, is Yeshua's designated symbol for His Ekklesia. The MESSAGE of the cross AND the RESURRECTION and ASCENSION is a package.

12:16 19Sep06 Saundra -
Praise Abba,Yeshua and Rauch Ha Kodesh for this bastion of spiritual insight given to Kehillat Mashiach in cyber-land. I'll be forwarding this Biblical spiritual food on to others precious one.

12:57 19Sep06 Jannai Warth -
I am a Gentile believer. The Lord touched my heart in 2003 to turn from sinful ways and return to Him. I began reading the Bible for the first time in my life, cover to cover, and I have been transformed. In the midst of this transformation, the Lord created in me a deep love for my Jewish brothers and sisters, both those who know the truth of Yeshua, and those who still are blinded. Your article hits to the core of what all believers, Jew and Gentile, must constantly embrace with great thanksgiving - that without the blood of Yeshua, we would still be eternally separated from Him, our Creator and Father. Yeshua is exalted above all! Praise you Adonai! For You ARE One!
And what an honor to the Jewish people, the house of Israel, that You, Adonai, have chosen them from among all the nations of the earth to reveal Yourself to the whole world. So much so that the greatest revelation of You Father, is the life, suffering, death, resurrection and glory of your Son, our Mesiach, who came to live among us as a simple Jewish carpenter. Yet His great power and glory we now know, and have been redeemed by Him, our sins atoned for. So now we eagerly await to see His fullness on the last day, when we will together bow before Him and cry out, "Yeshua ha Mesiach ADONAI!" Amen.

13:41 19Sep06 Wendy -
There are not words enough to express my deep-seated agreement with you on this. The centrality of the Cross in preaching, teaching and counseling is vital to true revival, renewal and maturity. It is the Body of Messiah's greatest need and the only cure for its spiritual anemia. When we take our eyes off the atonement and all it means, we risk shrinking back as did the Jewish believers (in the Letter to the Hebrews) who were ignoring so great a salvation. Thank you for listening to the Ruach Hakodesh and obeying His prompting.

14:33 19Sep06 Moishe Rosen -
Is it really necessary to change the title of the hymn from: "In the cross of Christ I glory"? Is this really necessary to maintain some Messianic distinctive? It makes me feel uncomfortable. In ones own discourse one has the right to choose their language but in quoting someone else, to change the language might imply an aversion that I am sure you don't feel.

14:53 19Sep06 David Peters -
Dan, thank you for such a powerful article. I think it is one of the most important understandings that we can have. Without the emphasis of the cross and crucifiction, without the dying to self that we need in our lives daily, "We will see less transformation in our people, less devotion, and less of the presence and power of the Spirit." It is true that this cuts across the lines of both Messianic Jewish congregations, and Gentile churches. We all too often want the power of the Spirit, and as much of self as we can get! It doesn't work that way. Another way of looking at it is that John the Baptiser came with the baptism of repentance, to make way for Yeshua the one who baptises us with the Holy Spirit. Repentance, cross, then power of God's Spirit.

17:19 19Sep06 Dr. Nicholas A. Marziani -
Very true, Dan. The early church, interestingly, came to understand the centrality of the cultic, sacrificial economy from the Old Covenant, and saw in the Lord Yeshua a fulfillment - not a supercession - that they wanted to adopt, and so the weekly celebration of the memorial Eucharist came to understood as the continual proclamation of the Lord's death and resurrection, even as the temple Levites and priests immolated the daily offerings. Perhaps there is a lesson here - more frequent celebration of communion, understood as a memorial and fellowship sacrifice.

17:48 19Sep06 Sue Hill -
I wanted to thank you so very much for this article. I have been a believer for 26 years now and in love with Israel and Judah for most of it. It has grieved me to see Christians take off their crosses so they don't offend Messianic Jews or unbelieving Jews or even speak of it. I like Paul say "God forbid that I should boast in anything but the Cross..."

18:16 19Sep06 Ramona Hubbard -
I first heard you speak when you and Asher (Keith) spoke at North Gate church in Gaithersburg, Maryland before going to Israel. I have prayed for Asher and his family and work for years. I will remember you now also. I have studied Messianic for years. I am not working now, so do not have money, but I can pray and will. God bless your work. Good to read your material.

20:17 19Sep06 Liz Rhodes -
Thank you for making the shed blood of Yeshua an emphasis. I am very, very concerned for many believers of Gentile background who are trying to partake of their Hebraic heritage to the point that the death and resurrection of Yeshua is an after thought. The main thought is Torah. The Torah without Yeshua's redemptive blood applied does little but accentuate our sin and self-righteousness. Only by Messiah's resurrected life can we live lives pleasing to the Father.

21:03 19Sep06 Suzanna For the Gethsemane Olivet Fellowship -
THANK YOU for sharing this real concern, as you have. One of the most special messages I heard in an Israeli Messianic Congregation, given by a very godly elder, (now in an International Messianic ministry role) was his (courageous?) message just like you have shared, on "the Cross". Of course you know better than most - even Messianic Believers - that it has to rest on a WHOLE understanding of Who Yeshua was and is - God making Himself known in a physical MAN; the expression & explanation of Yeshua being the FACE of GOD helps to bridge the understanding of Yeshua's DEATH. In these modern times, even the references to 'shed blood' have lost their impact, as, where once a stabbed soldier or a person cut deeply - knew they had only 20 minutes before DEATH, has lost that serious meaning. So for us the emphasis perhaps in a day and a nation where 'death' has serious meaning, this should be the emphasis contrasting with Yeshua's KEPT promise that He would RISE TO LIFE again! Our loving greetings are with you at this time of the Sacred Season.

00:20 20Sep06 Cathy O'Connor -
I have been attending a Messianic service for a while now, so far I have really enjoyed it; although we have not had a lot of worship, Yeshua is highly exalted and honoured. The Lord has revealed truths to me through it and is bringing me to more understanding of need to join the body to the root, Romans 11. We must have revelation of the mystery Paul was refering to; remember before conversion he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. This is such a testimony of God's goodness to Mankind. Paul was saved, likely the most well-learned priest of the day. God understood his zeal. There much more to learn. I realize this is New - it will take time to bring it to fullness in the Spirit.

11:02 20Sep06 Debra Raymond -
I could not agree with you more. I was not living a very good life, my brother and his wife tried talking to me about God, Jesus, the Bible, I believed but not enough to change my life. I tried reading the Bible but just couldn't understand it. Then one day - March 8, 2004 - my life changed big time, I went to see the movie the Passion and saw how much our Lord loved us, a love we can't even comprehend. I then went out on my deck the next day and gave my heart to the Lord. I think it is very important for people to see and hear what our Lord did for us. Since then the Lord has helped me to understand His words and I love to read scripture. He has also given me a love and understanding of His choosen people.My Lord and my God are in my heart and mind everyday and I wake at night with Him on my mind. I use to be afraid of death but now He has taken that fear away and replaced it with such a peace; what a AWESOME GOD we have. How can anyone live without Him - you can't! We should thank the Lord everyday for loving us so much that He gave His life for us and rose to life so we who believe in Him can have life everlasting.

23:27 20Sep06 Marc Handelsman -
The solution is living a "Yeshua-Observant" lifestyle. He should be preeminent in our worship and teaching/preaching.

04:28 21Sep06 Miriam Maranzenboim -
Amen and Amen ("the crucial note of focus"). Right on. We must REMEMBER what He did by partaking of the communion on a regular basis, and to stress at the same time the POWER of His resurrection. The blood doesn't have power in it - it's an erroneous song. The "Kapara" is important (via the blood) but Paul spoke about the power of the resurrection - this is SCRIPTURAL.

21:30 22Sep06 Aaron H. Bixby -
Brother Juster, you are correct about making Yeshua's life, death and resurrection the central theme of Messianic Judaism. When Yeshua is lifted up so that all men, women and children can see Him as He really is, then all who trust in Him will be drawn to Him and will be saved. Just as when Moses lifted up the [bronze] serpent on the tree, all who looked up were saved from certain death from the deadly snakes. Continue to teach this good news.

14:14 24Sep06 Raphael Jones -
I agree with your article "In The Cross of Messiah I Glory". My only caution as a Messianic is that we understand that after coming to this foundational place, and receiving Yeshua and acknowledging His finished work for us, that we follow the principles of Hebrews 6:1-2. Too often mature believers never move on to maturity. And what is this? That we move out in the Power of the Ruach and demonstration of G-d's mighty Power in our lives, not in philosophical meanderings regarding who He is, and what we should be doing next on our organizational agendas. We do this, and G-d will honor us in the fullness of Who He is that we will need no apologetics to justify our Messianic and Christian positions.

12:24 26Sep06 Charlotte Demetri -
I enjoyed this article very much and send a resounding YES! I am a Gentile, given a Jewish heart by God almost 30 years ago and have been praying for Israel since. Bless you and your ministry! God has given you such wisdom. 05:58 28Sep06 Ron Gideon -
Excellent article. As the return of Yeshua draws ever nearer, and as more and more Jewish and Arab people receive Him as Saviour prior to His return, this message must be proclaimed all the more. None of us should ever be ashamed.

10:49 04Oct06 Donna Diorio -
I really appreciate that you have spoken with great wisdom to such an intensely controversial issue, Dr. Juster. This is an issue the Messianic community could clear out a lot of internal dispute and error if it would deal with the place of the cross. The apostle Shaul wrote quite a lot about "the cross" even saying that he would not be persecuted if he would just stop preaching "the stumbling block of the cross." In Galatians 6 he indicated that there was an inclination within the Messianic movement from the very beginning to downplay the centrality of the cross because he wrote (speaking to non-Jewish Christians): "Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ." It seems to me that Paul's statements on what was going on in the first century proves that it is not just the horrendous history of Christian persecution of Jews that makes the cross such a stumbling block to Jews. Rather, the apostle says it is a stumbling block because that is where the power of our faith springs from. Essentially the enemy steals the power from the lives of believers through making the cross a stumbling block. Even Eusebuis, who wrote a secular Jewish history around 70 AD, refers to the Lord's "cross" and does not observe any religious "political correctness" by calling it a "stake" or even "the tree." (Deut 21:22 is the reason given for switching the term "the cross" to "the tree" without really explaining why "the cross" would be a more offensive term to first century Jews.) All this leads me to believe that the cross is an offense simply because that is where the power lies. If the enemy can keep us from embracing the truth of it, then we can be kept in a powerless state of faith. So thanks for pulling this controversy into the light of day because we need to deal with it up front if we are going to see the Messianic movement released into the power the apostle Paul was talking about being wrapped up in the cross of our Lord. What He did for us through the cross and how we are to follow Him in our identification of the cross is the central issue, not whether we refer to Him in His original Hebraic name "Yeshua Messiah" or in the tradition that developed as soon as the gospel began to be received among non-Jews of referring to Him as "Jesus Christ." We should press into the centrality of the cross discussion and not be silenced or sidetracked, for to those who are being saved the cross is the power of God. 1 Cor 1:18

01:11 08Oct06 Mark Aaron Rieber -
Dan, you went to the root of what is in the Father's heart: Yeshua needs to have his rightful place in our lives, seated on the throne of it. He will also sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem and those of us he has chosen will sit next to him, Baruch Haba B'shem Adonai. See you there, Dan, it will be a Holy and awesome day, may the Lord bring it too completion!

14:00 12Oct06 John Randall Peacher -
I am amazed at the work of the LORD in bringing Jewish and Gentile Believers together. His ways are beyond our comprehension. It is through fire and tumult, it seems, that G-d gets His children's attention; this is not His fault, but ours. As we humble ourselves and cast off parts of our teachings that seemed to consentrate on another day and age, and as we begin to realize that G-d adds precept upon precept, and line upon line, we will grow into His desire and will for last day Believers and a lasting bond, both a spiritual and physical bond, will take place among both Jewish and Gentile Believers; one new creation in G-d.

16:00 17Oct06 Daniel H Lang -
Dan, you say: Why is it difficult to maintain a Yeshua centered emphasis? Because the gospel of Yeshua is forsaken and not affirmed in our day and hour. But God has a people by grace according to His will that He gives grace to be faithful in the gospel, of which I am one with those few with me. I declare the one true gospel as the Christ, Yeshua died for our sins according to the all the scriptures, He was buried and He rose gain the third day according to all the writings of the prophets (Luke 24, 1 Cor 15:1-6). This gospel is forsaken to the utmost in our day and hour. And we know not the day and hour we live apart from God's grace. For the day of Meshiach is at hand. And no man can say these words except the falling away has occurred first and the man of sin, the son of perdition, the false prophet, the antichristos has been revealed (2 Thes 2). And I tell you by the word of the Lord the falling away has occurred and the man of sin has been revealed and apart from God's grace we do not know it. By the way the preaching of the cross is the preaching of the one true gospel I have given.

15:02 03Mar08 Jen -
The cross is a symbol that conveys meaning to the observer dependent upon what the observer believes it to be. For a Christian, the cross symbolizes mercy, grace, and love. For a Jew, it can be a horrific stumbling block, as the Jew can see a torture device worse than a guillotine that was used not only for Yeshua, but for countless of our own Jewish ancestors. To display a cross, for Jews, Messianic or not, might be like displaying a gas chamber to orphans of the Shoah (Holocaust). It is such a complex issue, isn't it?

14:43 10Apr09 anonymous -
I would like to know on what day Yeshua was crucified? How long he was unseen (dead) and on what day the Lord of the Sabbath arose?

10:20 13Apr09 Jonathan -
The church has long maintained the calendar of the crucifixion on Friday followed by resurrection on Sunday. This gives a count of two nights (Fri, Sat) and one plus two part days (Fri, Sat, Sun) in the grave. This position is not supported by a careful reading of the gospels and is almost certainly based on an early but gentile and inadequate idea about the timing of the feast. It is also not supported by scholarship which offers a number of alternatives, from Wednesday to Friday including the premise that it never actually happened at all.
The standard Messianic Jewish view is that Yeshua was crucified on Thursday afternoon, at the same time that the passover lambs were sacrificed in the Temple (the 9th hour, 3 o'clock in the afternoon, see also 1 Kings 18, Exodus 29:38-41, Acts 3:1ff). The resurrection took place in the early hours of Sunday morning, giving a count of three nights (Thu, Fri, Sat) and two and two half-days, enough to make three (Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun) in the grave to match Yeshua's own predictions (Matt 12:40).


Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Eitan Shishkoff: Esther's Call
Eitan Shishkoff: Messianic Children And Youth Take Refuge
Marty Shoub: While Katyushas Fall
Asher Intrater: Tisha B'Av 2006 On The Lebanese Border
Gateways: Missional Community: Creating A Landing Pad For The Glory Of God