Nothing can be more distressing to the heart of one who truly loves the Lord Jesus Christ and remembers that He came into this world a Jew according to the flesh, and that therefore salvation is of the Jews, than to contemplate the terrible sufferings that His own people have been called upon to endure throughout what we euphemistically call the Christian centuries. Alas, alas, that their Christianity has often been only in name, and most un-Christian things have been done by so-called Christian nations and even by what are known as Christian people, as they have heaped ignominy and persecution upon the chosen race now scattered because of its sins, and wandering among the Gentiles until that day when the Jews shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son, and as one in bitterness for his first-born.
Surely every real believer in the Lord Jesus Christ ought to have a heart of love for the Jewish people. This does not mean that he should overlook their failures and their sins, but it does mean that he ought to be free from all prejudice and to look upon them as he does upon Gentile sinners, as poor lost men and women for whom Christ died and to whom he is sent with the message of grace.
There are two extremes to which one may readily go in considering the Jews. Some sentimentalists can see nothing evil in them because of the fact that they occupy so prominent a place in the prophetic Scriptures. They rhapsodize over the Jew, and forgetting his faults they magnify all his virtues, and so fail to take into account his lost condition and his need of a Saviour. Others can see nothing good in the Jew. They emphasize his rejection of Christ, his antagonism to the Christian Church throughout the years, his persecution of fellow-Jews who turn from the synagogue to the Saviour, and his shrewd business proclivities which sometimes cause him to ignore certain questions of ethical procedure, thus bringing upon him the opprobrium of his Gentile competitors.
One hardly need say that both of these extremes are wrong. The Scriptures tell us that “there is no difference” between the Jew and the Greek, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;” and again, that “there is no difference… for the same Lord over all is rich unto all who call upon Him.” The Jew, like his Gentile brother, is a lost, guilty sinner for whose redemption Christ shed His precious blood, and when regenerated by divine grace, he becomes a member of the Body of Christ, in which there is neither Jew nor Greek, but all are one in Him.
Undoubtedly our testimony as Christians would be of far more value to the Jew if we would keep this in mind, and always be on the look-out for opportunities to manifest the grace of Christ toward those who do not recognize Him as their promised Messiah. Let me relate one incident which may help to emphasize this.
Some years ago while ministering in one of the Gospel Halls in the city of Detroit, I was entertained in the hospitable home of a beloved Christian family who lived in the outskirts of the city. On one particular day I left the house to go downtown. I had just gone a short distance when an unexpected rain began to fall. I was not carrying an umbrella, for the only one I owned was broken, and I had hoped that I would not need it. For a moment I debated whether to go on to the car-line or to return to the house, when providentially I saw an aged Jew coming around the corner with a bundle of umbrella-fixings under his arm. I asked him whether he would go with me to the house and fix my umbrella, which he agreed to do. Hurrying back, I brought it to him, and he sat on the porch as he repaired it.
As I looked at his seamed face, fringed with its long gray beard, I felt that the deep lines expressed poignant suffering, and I yearned to be used of God to make known to him that One who had said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
When the job was finished, I asked him how much I owed him. “Thirty-five cents,” he replied. Thinking that it would give me the opportunity I wanted, I said to him, “Here is the thirty-five cents, but I fancy you have to do a good many jobs like this daily to make any kind of a living. I would like to add a little more as a gift in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ;” and I handed him an extra half-dollar.
I shall never forget how he trembled, and how excited he became, as the money dropped into his hand. I thought at first that he would allow it to slip through his fingers, but he was too good a Jew for that! As he took it, he exclaimed in undisguised amazement, “In the Name of Jesus Christ! Mein Gott, mein Gott!—In the Name of Jesus Christ they burned mein house over mein head in Russia. In the Name of Jesus Christ they robbed me of all that I had. In the Name of Jesus Christ they drove mein vife and mein children out in the cold and the schnow, and left them there. And I come to America, and I have been here four years, and now for the first time someone speaks to me of Jesus Christ. And in the Name of Jesus Christ he…gifs me more money than I ask!”
I tried to tell him that those who had treated him so badly knew nothing of Jesus Christ; that Christ was Himself a Jew, and that He loved His own people; that He had said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me;” and that it was for love of Jesus Christ that my own heart yearned over him, and I longed to be of some help and blessing to him.
He listened, astounded, as I tried to tell him the story of the suffering Saviour, and of the salvation which He had purchased with His precious blood. How much the poor old man was able to understand, I do not know. My time was limited, and much to my regret I had to allow him to go his way in order that I might make my appointment. As I watched him go down the street I noticed that he held the money in his open palm, and that he was looking down upon it while his lips moved. Although he was out of hearing, I felt sure that he was still exclaiming
in amazement, “In the Name of Jesus Christ he gifs me more money than I ask!”
And I prayed—oh, so earnestly!—that God would make that simple little act a testimony to the heart of this poor man, and would lead him to inquire further in order that he too might know in full the riches of grace exemplified in that dear and wonderful Name.