My Journey into Jewish Roots
Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 10 January 2011; Revised 30 June 2020
In 1977 the television miniseries Roots gripped American culture. Whatever people may have thought of the story it nevertheless fueled a renewed interest in genealogy in all parts of society. Growing up in a blue-collar family I was proud of my own ancestors, reportedly a mixture of German, Scotch-Irish and Chickasaw Indian. Many of my relatives were Christians of various denominations (Baptist, Mennonite, Nazarene and Pentecostal) and I attended some of their churches at various times since I was old enough to sit in a pew. Finally, at the age of 13 I came to know Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) as my personal Savior during a Vacation Bible School in a small Church of the Nazarene in my hometown of Roswell, New Mexico.
The Church of the Nazarene became my church and I went on to study for the ministry in Nazarene educational institutions. In all that time I had little understanding of the Jewish roots of my faith. Yes, I knew Jesus was a Jew, but the significance of that fact did not register on my radar. And, I have to admit that my church did not help me discover the importance of the Jewish roots of the faith. I didn't experience any overt antisemitism in my religious upbringing and training, but it was as if there was a giant blind spot in our theology. The functional paradigm was that the disciples of Jesus had all become Christians so their Jewishness did not really warrant any consideration.
Compounding this situation is that, like most Christians, I did not personally know any Jews and knew little about Judaism. I didn't even know there were Jews who had been disciples of Jesus down through the centuries to modern times. In 1980 a new revelation crashed into my understanding. A traveling singing group, the Liberated Wailing Wall, from the organization Jews for Jesus came to my church in Colorado Springs. I was both stunned and inspired as I listened to their stories and their music. The Jewish style of music resonated in my soul in a way I never expected. (As a result I bought their tapes and listened to their music for years.) Through that contact with Jews for Jesus my paradigm began to shift.
Fourteen years later I attended a luncheon of legal professionals in Kansas City, Missouri. The guest speaker turned out to be a Messianic Jewish rabbi. (I never knew there was such a thing.) I found myself intrigued and challenged by his critique of Christianity and his unique point of view concerning the Messiah. This Jesus of my youth, named Yeshua by his parents, was an observant Jew who taught his disciples the true way of Torah. The rabbi's talk was intellectually stimulating and I thirsted for more knowledge. I then bought three books that had a formative influence on my personal theology: Our Father Abraham by Marvin Wilson, Messianic Jewish Manifesto by David Stern and Stern's Jewish New Testament Commentary.
These books gave me a new way of looking at Yeshua and the New Testament writings and began to influence my teaching. In addition, my wife and I began to feel the need to find a way to observe the Sabbath and give recognition to all of God's appointed times (Lev 23:4). Disciples are encouraged in Scripture to follow in the steps of our Master (1Pet 2:21). This obedience in no way implies any kind of legalism, but a sincere desire to allow Yeshua's pattern of life to guide our own.
Several years ago my wife and I responded to an invitation from a Messianic Jew to attend his congregational worship. Like that first experience in 1980 the Messianic Jewish worship connected with our spirits in a way that's difficult to describe. The Messianic congregation (which includes Gentiles as well as Jews) is like an acted out parable of the promise to Jacob that he would be a company of nations (Gen 35:11). It's a visible representation of the Olive Tree of Israel and grafted-in Gentiles (Romans 11). This is the faith that was handed down to the apostles and for which Jude urged disciples to contend (Jude 1:3). Unfortunately, this is not the faith reflected in many Christian churches.
I still belong to the Church of the Nazarene, but because of these consciousness-raising experiences I feel called to support Messianic Judaism in whatever manner I am able, including Messianic ministries that seek the salvation of Jews and Israelis. The blended worship of the Messianic Jewish congregation is valuable preparation for the day we share in joint adoration of the King of Kings in the New Yerushalayim.
Copyright © 2011-2020 Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.