Blessings Rabbi Henry
Can A Jew Believe in Jesus and still be a Jew?
Was Jesus the first Christian?
Are these the right questions to be asking?
I'm not sure these are the right questions to be asking. The reason why I say this is because if we were having this discussion 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem and I was one of the first followers of Yeshua (Jesus) these questions wouldn't have made sense. There was no such thing as a Christian then, as we perceive them today.
There were just Jews who proclaimed this Yeshua Ha Nazaret, (Jesus the Nazarene) to be the Jewish Messiah. Those Gentiles who did believe were in the absolute minority.
The first Talmidim (Disciples) dealt with this very issue in the Brit Hadasha (New Covenant) book called Acts, chapter 15 .
The Question that was asked back then was, what do we do with all these Gentiles who have come to faith in the Jewish Messiah?
I believe the real question that should be posed today is, was Yeshua the real Jewish Messiah?
The Messiah was prophesied to come from the house of David (a Jew) Isaiah 11. This Jewish Messiah's job description was very clear and is found in the Tenach (First Covenant). Some call it the Old Testament. The Book of Isaiah is the book that speaks most about the Jewish Messiah. We find in one passage (Isaiah 53) it tells us of His mission.
Isa 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
I encourage you to read the whole passage.
The work of the Messiah was to reconcile all mankind back to G-d. Jew and Gentile. The Messiah was G-d's plan of bringing Atonement and forgiveness for man's sin.
So, that means, if Yeshua is not the Messiah for the Jew, He can't be the Messiah for the Gentile.
C.S. Lewis once wrote, and I paraphrase: He is either a lunatic, liar or Messiah. This sure puts it into perspective. If He wasn't the Messiah, what possible options are left? He couldn't have been just a good man or a prophet; His claims were too exclusive.
The only way you will have a chance to know the truth is to check it out for yourself. First hand information is the only verifiable means to know the truth.
So, I challenge you to read the prophesies in the Tenach that speak of the promised Messiah. Here are a few to start: Psalms 22, Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 53, Micah 5:2, .
Find out for yourself. If you have any questions we'll be glad to help. But just remember, you can't say He's not Messiah for the Jew for sure if you haven't first looked at the evidence.
If He is the Messiah to the Jew then it is only logical to conclude that not only can a Jew believe in Him but that the Most Jewish thing to do is to accept Him as his Messiah.