When my mother found out that I was going to be the master of ceremony, she said, “Jeffrey!” When a Jewish mother says your full name, you're in trouble. She said, “You can’t speak about Jesus at the funeral.” I said, “Mom, it's not your place to tell me that. This is dad's funeral. I was asked by my brothers. You divorced him. You don't have this right. I know what dad would want me to say, and today I'm gonna honor him, and I’m going to honor God. When the day comes for your funeral, if you don't want me to talk about Jesus, then that’s your business. This is my business for today.”
At the funeral, my brothers spoke first. Then it came my time to speak. I talked about growing up with my dad, that education was very important to him, that going to Hebrew school for five years was important, so that at least, in his mind, he would know that I understand what it means to be a Jew. Then I spoke about Friday nights or Saturdays, going to synagogue, and how my dad loved to hear Rabbi William B. Gold give his sermon.
I finished my time of speaking at the funeral by saying, “At the end of my dad's life, he met the most famous Rabbi who ever lived. Oh, how he loved to hear his sermons. This was no ordinary Rabbi. Let me tell you a little bit about his life,” and I began to preach the gospel message from the Old Testament and share the credentials of the Rabbi all the way to Isaiah 53. Well, I think my mom's spun around about three times. She was freaking out in the audience. You could have heard a pin drop in the crowd.
I don't think they really hate Jesus. I think they hate people who, in the name of Jesus, did bad things to Jewish people. You’d have to put yourself in their shoes to understand the atrocities they’ve been through. Jewish belief is rooted in the first-century. The Jewish people thought the Jewish Messiah would come as a conquering king. When Jesus didn’t do that, they rejected him because he didn’t rid them of Rome.
As Christians, we understand that before He will come as the physical conquering king, He first came as the atonement for sin. This was a misunderstanding that the nation of Israel had, and much of that was because they had departed from God. Had they really known God, when He sent His Son, they would have recognized him. There was a remnant because all the first followers of Jesus were Jewish. I don't believe it's so much that they hate Jesus. They think they do, but what they really hate is people who, in the name of Jesus, did very hurtful things to Jewish people. They experienced such atrocities you'd have to put yourself in their shoes to try to understand.
It's real important that the Christian community does exactly what they did to me, reach out with a lot of love, unconditional love, to the Jewish people. Just show them the love of Christ. There was a lady named Corrie Ten Boom whose father and family made a hiding place in the walls of their home during the Nazi regime. They were hiding Jewish people during World War II. They were caught, and the whole family died, with the exception of Corrie, who ended up going to a concentration camp. She didn’t die. She got out through a miracle, and then went all around the world telling her story about her love for Jesus and her family's love for Jewish people to the degree that they were willing to risk their necks and to die for the sake of Jewish people. This got my attention because whatever the real deal is, that was it. These were real Christians.