April 3, 2014
Why do the Jewish Passover and Jesus’ Last Supper have in common? Shoshanna Weinisch, speaking on behalf of “Jews for Jesus”, will answer that question in a presentation called “Christ in the Passover” at Russell Baptist Church on Monday evening, April 7, at 7 p.m.
Using a visual display of traditional Passover accouterments, the “Christ in the Passover” presentation enhances the Christian’s understanding and appreciation of the Jewish background of the Christian Communion. Ancient and modern Jewish customs are discussed and described with an emphasis on the aspect of redemption that Christ accomplished at Calvary.
A table is set with the traditional Jewish Passover items, including representative foods which are explained, but not eaten. The ceremonial seder plate, the three-compartment pouch in which the matzo (unleavened bread) is kept, as well as the traditional cup of Elijah are presented, and new insights to their christological significance are provided.
Jews for Jesus has presented this demonstration in over 16,000 churches. It was originally written in 1956 by Moishe Rosen, the founder and former executive director of Jews for Jesus. The presentation was abstracted from the writings of the late Rabbi Leopold Cohn, who came to faith in Jesus in 1894 and died in 1936.
Dr. Rosen contends that some of the most important elements of Christian doctrine, such as the Trinity, the principle of substitutionary atonement and salvation through a personal relationship with the Messiah, are implied int he Seder (Passover feast) as observed by Orthodox Jews even today. The “Christ in the Passover” presentation is one way Jews for Jesus can help churches appreciate the Jewish roots of the Christian faith.
Rosen says,”Our primary ministry is to those who do not yet believe in Jesus.” Jews for Jesus is an evangelistic agency best known for creative methods and materials. Their literature deals with contemporary themes including anything from current films to chemical waste. “Broadsides” use humor and clever illustrations yet have a serious message: namely, that Jesus is the promised Messiah for both Jews and Gentiles.
Jews for Jesus also communicates through original Jewish gospel music and drama, which is presented by mobile teams such as the Liberated Wailing Wall. The organization has permanent branches in seven North American cities (San Francisco,Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, New York City, Washington D.C. and South Florida) as well as over seventy chapters spanning some thirty states.
The groups’s international branches are headquartered in Johannesburge, Buenos Aires, London, Paris, Odessa, Moscow and Tel Aviv, and developing work in Germany and Australia.
Dr. Rosen says, “Our message is not new, but we’re telling it in a new way. For too long the Jewish roots of Christianity have been forgotten.” In keeping with the Jewish context of Christianity, he and his wife have co-authored a book entitled “Christ in the Passover.” As with the presentation at Russell Baptist Church, this book focuses on Passover to demonstrate the continuity of the Old and New Testament scriptures. Jews for Jesus has also published a colorful illustrated edition of a messianic haggadah in both paperback and hard-bound edition. This service book enables Christians to experience a traditional Passover celebration (complete with songs) while also expressing their faith in Jesus.
David Brickner, who has served with the Jews for Jesus since 1980, was elected Executive Director in 1996, when he was 37. Brickner sees Jews for Jesus as a ministry that is 2,000 years old. “We began in 32 A.D., give or take a year. Jesus’ first followers were Jewish men and women and since then there have been some of us in every generation.”
Those attending the special “Christ in the Passover” program at Russell Baptist Church on Monday, April 7 at 7 p.m. will also have an opportunity to examine some of the aforementioned literature and materials. The program is open to the general public and Shoshannah Weinisch will be available to answer questions those attending might have.