Yeshua is to Christianity what Pasta is to Italains
by Eric Tolkaje
Pasta is Italian, bagels are Jewish, and chicken chow mein is Chinese right? Wrong; the bagel's roots are not Jewish, but rather Italian. While pasta’s history begins in China, the Chinese food staple chow mein is actually an American dish.
What does this lost history of these different popular foods have to do with Jesus and Christianity? The answer is simple. In the exact same way that these three foods and many others are believed to be culturally connected to a certain people group and tradition, Yeshua/Jesus—a Jew born in a Jewish town named Bethlehem, to Jewish parents), who lived His life according to Biblical/Jewish law and conventions, and who died in Jerusalem—has been largely removed from His real Jewish culture, and over the centuries became a Hellenized Christian.
I know that many people reading this may still at this point be wondering, “What difference does it makes” You can enjoy a bagel in a kosher deli without understanding that the first bagels we made by Italians. You can eat a bowl of chow mein noodles without concern that it was first eaten in America and not in China. We also know the long piece of pasta is no less delicious just because the first ones to slurp pasta were not in Italy.
While there may be no critical impact by the lost origins of certain foods, removing Yeshua from His roots is more than cultural appropriation. It isn’t just that Yeshua was Jewish. When we learn about Yeshua outside of the context of the Tanakh and the nation Israel, we may see Him as Messiah, but we cannot understand why only He can be the Messiah. Outside of the context that Yeshua was born into, we cannot understand the meaning of Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent out His Son, born of a woman and born under law.”—(TLV) Removed from context, it is impossible for someone to understand “fullness of time,” “God sent out His son,” or “born under law.”
Without the knowledge that begins in Genesis 1:3, “God said, ‘Let there be light!’ and there was light,” (TLV), it is impossible to understand John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me…will have the light of life.” (TLV). Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection can hardly be understood without Genesis 1:14, “Let lights in the expanse of the sky be for separating the day from the night. They will be for signs and for seasons…” The word in verse 14 is the Hebrew word moedim—“appointed times.”
There were biblical reasons that Yeshua died on Passover, was buried before the Sabbath, and rose again on the Firstfruits of the barley harvest. These reasons were set from the very first words of the Bible and continue throughout the Old Testament texts. While it may not make any difference if someone goes their whole life thinking that bagels are Jewish, pasta is Italian and chow mein is Chinese, it makes a huge difference if a believer in Yeshua doesn’t know that Jesus was/is a Jew, because the very foundation of what they believe is resting on that truth.
After all, remember what Yeshua said on the last great day of the Feast in John 7:38, “Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” In order to have rivers of living water flow out of our innermost being, we must believe in Him as the Scriptures said, remembering that the only Scriptures in existence when those words were spoken were the books of the Old Testament.