The sub- title sets the scene from the outset “How do you feel when you are successful, 50 and Jewish and your 21-year old daughter tells you she believes in Jesus? Stan’s daughter Judy broke the news to her family causing shock and a sense of betrayal though she did so in a loving and gracious way as possible. Judy helpfully suggested reading the Bible to see whether it was true or not so they could come to their own conclusions. Would you be prepared to do the same?
Stan decided to do exactly that and for the first time read through the Bible in an effort to disprove it and to be able to convince Judy to change her mind. As a child Stan had like many Jewish people been labelled a ‘Christ killer’ and braced himself in anticipation expecting to read a document that expressed hatred directed towards Jewish people. He commenced by reading Matthew, a Jewish gospel written by a Jewish author about a Jewish Messiah to a Jewish audience. Stan was surprised to see many references relating to the Tanakh (Old Testament) regarding the fulfilment of Messianic prophecy and in addition, a reference to the Shema, the cornerstone of his faith.
That wasn’t what Stan expected so he continued and read the four gospels. Stan bought a Tanakh from a Jewish book- store, to check that it corresponded with the Old Testament he was reading, which it did. Stan then wrote five fundamental questions which he needed answers for.
1.Do I believe that God really exists?
2. Do I believe that the Jewish Bible (The Tanakh) is the divinely inspired word of God?
3. Does this Bible prophesy about a coming Messiah?
4. Is Jesus the Messiah?
5. If he is, what does that do to me?
During the course of his investigations, Stan remembered that when he had visited Israel, his tour guide mentioned archaeological digs proving that the Bible was authentic and that it brought the Scriptures to life. He also learned that the Dead Sea Scrolls were an important textual link proving that the Scriptures hadn’t been altered and that they were copied accurately. Isaiah contains the most messianic prophesies and in Isaiah 53, out of 166 words only one word containing three letters was questioned which had no essential bearing on that text.
It was a surprise for Stan to discover Messianic congregations comprising Jewish and Gentile believers in the Lord Jesus who they referred to as ‘Yeshua Ha Mashiach’ or Jesus the Messiah. When Stan spoke with the Pastor, he came to the reality that he didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah though he hadn’t actually read the Old Testament and New Testament, so he was basing his conclusion from no evidence.
A friend of his suggested that he read Jeremiah 31:31, Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. Stan discovered that the reference in Jeremiah spoke of a new covenant and that the other two prophetic passages described what happened to Jesus in the New Testament and the crucifixion of Jesus 1000 years before that event occurred.
The tension grew as Stan and his wife Ethel who was doing her own studies wrestled with the question whether someone could be Jewish and believe in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah? Stan read through Acts and recognised that the Jewish believers in Jesus didn’t lose their Jewish identity. Stan also carried out a review of church history. Meanwhile Stan had numerous conversations with other believers and eventually attended a National Convocation of Messianic Jews. Stan spoke with a Jewish believer called Lillian who asked Stan in relation to the opening verses of Exodus Chapter 20 who he worshipped and whether he worshipped money, family, home or whether he worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who delivered their ancestors out of Egypt? Very shortly afterwards Stan came to faith trusting in Yeshua as the Messiah.
The story didn’t end there. Amazingly his wife and younger daughter Ann came to the same conclusion and the family were reunited, but it came at a cost. Some of his family, friends and community took the news badly and treated them with resentment and branded him as a traitor. Others maintained friendship although couldn’t understand what had happened. Encouragingly however, Stan would go onto Bible School and afterwards led a fellowship.
Stan and Ethel have enjoyed bringing out the Jewish perspective which runs throughout the Scriptures and as a family came to be fulfilled in knowing Jesus. Helpfully in the last chapter, Stan draws our attention to the astonishing number and strikingly specific messianic prophecies fulfilled in Yeshua as the vital proof needed to establish that He is the Messiah.