Some people claim that Jesus of Nazareth was never really a Jew. However, a brief look at Scripture makes it obvious that Jesus could have been nothing but a Jew.
In contrast to Hollywood versions of Jesus that often reflect a Western view of the Christ, there is much proof that Jesus was, in fact, Jewish. The very first verse of the New Testament clearly proclaims the Jewish ethnicity of Jesus: "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1).
First, the name "Jesus" has clear Hebrew origins. Jesus is a transliteration of the Hebrew word Joshua, which is why some refer to Him as "Yeshua." The name means "Yahweh is salvation."
Second, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a town occupied by Jewish people. Bethlehem had long been a Jewish settlement known as the city of David.
Third, Jesus' earthly parents were from Nazareth, a city of Jewish people. It is undeniable that first-century Nazareth was a small Jewish town.
Fourth, Jesus was born at the time of a census that required Jews to return to the towns of their ancestry. Joseph would not have traveled with a pregnant wife to Bethlehem for the census unless he was Jewish. Mary the mother of Jesus also had a Jewish ancestry. Luke's genealogy of Jesus likely traces Mary's side of the family and shows a connection to David and the tribe of Judah. Jesus' aunt and uncle, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were also Torah-observant Jews (Luke 1:6). Zechariah was a priest. The whole family took their Jewish faith very seriously. Hebrews 7:14 states, "For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah."
Fifth, Jesus was taken to the temple as an infant according to the Jewish law of Moses (Luke 2:22).
Sixth, Jesus was at the Jewish temple as a child according to Jewish custom (Luke 2:41-52).
Seventh, Jesus observed Jewish customs as an adult. He attended the synagogue on the Sabbath, traveled to Jerusalem for Passover, and told those He healed of skin disease to present themselves to the priests as required by the Law of Moses. Everything in the Gospel accounts indicates that Jesus was a Torah-observant, Sabbath-abiding Jewish man.
Those who argue against the Jewish heritage of Jesus must provide alternative answers to these seven historical facts. The burden of proof lies on those who contradict the Bible's clear evidence in this matter.
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