When Did Jesus Stop Being Jewish?

In Blogs by Ty Perry4 Comments

“Ty, I have a question,” he said. “When did Jesus stop being Jewish?”

Jacob and I have had many great conversations over the past few years about the Bible, Jewish history, and Israel in God’s plan. But his question took me aback. My dear friend, who was once severely persecuted by “Christian” anti-Semites, essentially wanted to know when Jesus betrayed His people.

So, let’s consider the question. When did Jesus stop being Jewish? 

Jesus was born a Jew.

Every December, the thoughts of Christians turn to the night of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. When we study the Christmas narrative, however, we usually brush across the account of what took place after Jesus’ birth, after the shepherds and the gifts and the angels in the highest. What happened after the Christmas story tells us a lot about the Jewishness of Jesus and His earthly family.

The Gospel of Luke records that eight days after He was born, Jesus’ parents had Him circumcised and named Him Jesus, in Hebrew Yeshua (Lk. 2:21). The circumcision and naming ceremony is called the brit milah (literally, “covenant of circumcision”). It is a rite given to Israel in the Mosaic Law that binds the male child to the people of Israel, the Law, and God (Lev. 12:3). 

In addition to the brit milah, the Torah teaches that a Jewish woman who gives birth to a baby boy is considered unclean for a total of 40 days (Lev. 12:2,4). Following this time of purification, she and her husband are to take their son to the priest in Jerusalem, where they are to bring a lamb as a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering (Lev. 12:6). 

Jesus was born to observant Jewish parents, who loved God and knew the Tanakh by heart (Lk. 1:46-55). After the 40 days of her purification, Joseph and Mary traveled from Nazareth to Jerusalem and did exactly as the Law commanded (Lk. 2:22-24). 

From His first day on Earth, Jesus, under the direction of His observant parents, was obedient to the Law. He was born a Jew.

Jesus lived as a Jew.

We do not have many details about Jesus’ life prior to His ministry; but we do know that He was raised in a distinctly Jewish home. 

For example, Jesus’ parents, in accordance with the Law, annually took their family to Jerusalem for Passover (Dt. 16:16; Lk. 2:41). In fact, it was after the family observed Passover in Jerusalem and began their return trip to Nazareth that 12-year-old Jesus went missing. When Joseph and Mary backtracked to Jerusalem, they eventually found him sitting in the temple, listening to the teachers of the Sanhedrims (Sanh. 88b) and asking them questions that astonished those who heard Him (Lk. 2:46).

In addition to Passover, Jesus, as the Son of God and an observant Jew, celebrated the other feasts proscribed in the Law, as well as the non-biblical Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah (Jn. 10:22).

At no point in His life or ministry was Jesus anti-Jewish. He was born a Jew, lived a Jewish life, and died a Jew.

Additionally, when Jesus was 13, He would have had His bar mitzvah. The term bar mitzvah literally means “son of the law.” Rabbinic tradition dictates that a boy becomes a bar mitzvah at the age of 13, meaning that he is responsible to keep the Law of Moses from then on. Observant as He and His family were, Jesus undoubtedly had a bar mitzvah.

We also know that Jesus attended synagogue. He was a regular participant in the life of the synagogue (Lk. 4:16) and taught in synagogues throughout Israel (v. 15).

Jesus kept the Torah, observed the festivals, participated in Jewish traditions, and was active in His local synagogue. For all of His 33 years on Earth, Jesus lived a Jewish life.

Jesus died a Jew.

Not only was Jesus born a Jew and lived a Jewish life, He was a Jew when He died, too. 

Throughout His life, Jesus never distanced Himself from the Jewish people or disavowed them. True, He called out the Jewish leadership for their hypocrisy (Matt. 23) and pronounced judgment on them (v. 36); but so did the prophets throughout Israel’s history. Jesus rebuked His people, cared for His people, taught His people, healed His people, and forgave the sin of His people.

At no point in His life or ministry was Jesus anti-Jewish. He was born a Jew, lived a Jewish life, and died a Jew.

Jesus will return to Earth a Jew.

For the Jewish people, the thought of living in a world void of anti-Semitism is unfathomable. Persecution and attempts to annihilate them have become a part of the fabric of the Jewish experience. The Bible teaches, however, that there is coming a time when anti-Semitism will be dealt with once and for all by the King of the Jews, Jesus.

When Jesus returns to Earth, He will do so as the world’s Jewish judge and king (Matt. 25:31; cf. Is. 9:7). He will gather all the people of the world to Israel, where He will judge them. This judgment is hinged on one factor: How did these Gentiles treat their Jewish neighbors in their time of distress (Joel 3:2; Matt. 25:31–46)? In accordance with God’s promise to Abraham, Jesus will bless those who cared for the Jewish people, and He will curse those who did not care for them.

After crushing anti-Semitism, the King of the Jews will become “King over all the earth” (Zech. 14:9). But even then, Jesus and the character of His kingdom will be Jewish.

Each year, the nations of the world will convene in Jerusalem, where they will worship the God of Israel and keep Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech. 14:16). On their way to Jerusalem, when they see a Jewish person, they will grab his sleeve “saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you’” (Zech. 8:23).

Throughout their existence, the Jewish people have perpetually had their sleeves grasped by the Gentiles, almost always to throw them to the ground, oppress them, or even to throw them into concentration camps. Under the rule of the King of the Jews, however, the world will be rid of anti-Semitism, and Gentiles will honor the Jewish people in their role as God’s Chosen People.

Conclusion

So, When did Jesus stop being Jewish? He never did. From His birth and brit milah, to His life on Earth, to His imminent return and reign as King, Jesus has never stopped being Jewish. Both Jews and Gentiles would do well to remember this. 

Gentiles should never assume God has divorced His Chosen People. Jewish people should not cast Jesus off as a traitor to His people. He never denied the Jewish people, and His message of salvation by grace through faith is for all people, the Jew first and also the Gentile (Rom. 1:16).

About the Author
Ty Perry

Ty Perry

Ty is a Field Representative for The Friends of Israel in Las Vegas, Nevada. He speaks in various venues educating Christians about the necessity of supporting Israel and the Jewish people.

Comments 4

  1. The gift of salvation is to all of mankind. “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Gentile, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Gentile.” (Rom 2:9-10). So the gospel is first for the Jew, and also for the Gentile. (1:16) Jesus lived the perfect life and died as a Jew as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind to the Jew first because of the sin of Adam and Eve and Hos people, the Jews and all of mankind whom He created and loves. Jesus is God who is beyond any constraints of time, space, and His creation; he is the Alpha and the Omega which supercedes any identification as being a Jew.

  2. Thank you. This is what I believed but you put it in such a way that all will be able to understand. I stand with Israel

  3. Jesus stopped being a Jew when Rome got involved. They made him a white dude with long hair. Jesus stopped being a Jew when the very days His Father created about Him were “done away with” and replaced with pagan holidays. Jesus stopped being a Jew when people started eating pork on His alleged birthday and resurrection day. Jesus stopped being a Jew when people started believing the church replaced Israel. Jesus stopped being a Jew when Martin Luther is celebrated for Reformation Day even when he wrote a book on burning synagogues and Hebrew bibles.

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