Zvi Oct/Nov 2000
Many people come here to Jerusalem every year. As it is written in Isaiah 2:3, “for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Recently the whole world watched as the pope came here from Rome. Many Catholic priests also came. One day I heard seven priests who had come, talking among themselves in Polish.
Of course, I know Polish very well since I came to Israel from Poland after the Holocaust. So I began to speak to them, and we quickly became friendly. I listened as they spoke of the pope as “the holy father.” Finally I asked them, “To whom do you pray every day? Is it to this ‘holy father’ that you see now before your eyes, or to the living God who is in heaven?”
Because I am Jewish, they looked down on me at first and asked, “How can we speak with you about such things? You belong to this stiff-necked people!”
I replied, “You see, I am not like you. I believe in God according to the holy Bible, not like you or the ultra-Orthodox Jews who believe what is contained in their many commentaries. Because of their many books, they have lost the right direction and worship man instead of God. It is clearly written in Psalm 118, ‘It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man’” (v. 8).
Now the priests became curious and asked me how I know the psalms. I told them, “Because I believe in the living God and not in man.”
“You know what the Jews have done to our God?” they asked. “They have killed Him. They have crucified Him.”
I replied, “You have made a very big mistake. It was written in the prophets that this would be done but not by the Jews only. He died for us all. It was written that God would lay on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53). And now He is alive in heaven.”
This time they were very surprised to hear me say that Christ is alive.
“How can you say this?” they asked.
“If you believe Christ is alive,” I said, “why do you always show Him on a cross? But for those of us who believe in Him as our living Savior who was crucified for all of us, He is no more on the cross.“
This teaching was very difficult for them to accept. They did not understand how they could come here to Jerusalem and hear about Jesus from a Jew. So I opened my New Testament and read for them 1 Corinthians 12:12–13 and explained that Paul said if we believe, we are all baptized into one Spirit, one Body, whether Jew or Gentile.
It was as though they were in shock. Again they asked, “How can this be, that a Jew believes in Christ?”
“How can you ask me such a question?” I replied. “You are supposed to be the examples for your pupils and teach them to follow the right path, and you ask me this question?” So I read to them Deuteronomy 18:15: “’The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me [Moses]; unto him ye shall hearken.’ Who was this One?” I asked.
“So you know something about our catechism,” they said.
“They are Catholic commentaries,” I said. “I am living among people who also have many different commentaries, and they have lost the right direction. Like you, they are at a crossroads, waiting for someone to come and show them what is written in the Word of God.”
They asked if everyone in Israel knows the Bible. “Many know,” I said, “but for most of them, it is like a nice story. It is important not only to know but also to believe what is written.”
“Please tell us,” they asked politely, “how you came to know the Lord.”
“Because of the holy Bible,” I replied, “not because of those many books. In the Bible it is clearly written that we are to serve the Lord only. And this is written not only to Jews but also to the entire world. And whoever will believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
“We have heard those words before,” they said. So the Lord gave me a good opportunity to preach the gospel of Christ to those who are so sure that they worship the Lord in the best way. But here in Jerusalem they have heard of a better way.