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According to Luke 2:27, Jesus was born into a Jewish family that followed Jewish law. His lineage is from the tribe of Judah, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. He was born in Bethlehem, a Jewish town and raised in Nazareth. Jesus was fully immersed in Jewish nationality, culture, and religion.

What religion was Jesus?

Jesus practiced the religion of first-century Judaism. According to Galatians 4:4, He was born under the law and grew up learning the Torah, following its teachings. He obeyed the Mosaic Law, including all of the ordinances, commandments, and feasts. Not only did He obey the law, but He fulfilled it and brought its requirements to a close, as detailed in Matthew 5:17-18. Jesus and His disciples observed Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles and kept an unnamed Jewish feast in John 5:1. He taught in synagogues and attended worship services, advising others to observe the law of Moses and offer sacrifices.

Jesus promoted respect for law as it was being taught by the Pharisees and scribes of His day. He often quoted the Tanakh and, in all this, showed that He was Jewish. As Jesus addressed a group of Jews, He issued a challenge to them, asking if any of them could prove that He was guilty of sin, as detailed in John 8:46. If Jesus had departed in any way from the religious observances of Judaism, His enemies would’ve immediately taken the chance to criticize Him. However, Jesus had a knack for silencing His opponents. Jesus had stern words for the leaders within His religion. It’s essential to remember that Jesus’ condemnation of the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees wasn’t a condemnation of the law or Judaism of the day.

Jesus’ rebuke of corrupt officials, hypocrites, and the self-righteous sharply contrasted with His condemnation of those who were devout before God and lived their faith. Jesus spoke out against specific religious leaders because they taught manufactured ideas as if they were commands from God. On two occasions, He cleared the temple of rapacious, thieving sinners. These action weren’t designed to destroy Judaism but to purify it. He was an observant Jew who followed the law, and His death brought the end to the Old Covenant God made with Israel, shown in the tearing of the temple and established the New Covenant. The early church was established in Judaism and Jewish messianism. The earliest believers in Christ were mainly Jewish.

Still, as the believers declared the risen Jesus as the Messiah, the unbelievers rejected them and were driven to make a clean break from Judaism. Jesus was the Messiah that the Jews waited for. He was born into Judaism, fulfilled the Jewish religion, and when His people rejected Him, He gave His life as a sacrifice for the world’s sins. His blood ratified the New Covenant, and soon after His death, Judaism lost its temple, priesthood, and sacrifices.

If Jesus was Jewish, why aren’t Christians Jewish?

If Jesus was Jewish, why is it that Christians don’t follow Judaism? Judaism’s Laws were given to Moses for Israel’s children in a special and sacred covenant at Mount Sinai and were recorded for us in Exodus. In this covenant, God wrote His laws on stone tablets, and Israel was told to be obedient to all that was revealed to them. Still, this incredible covenant was only a picture of a better and new covenant that God would give His people one day, both Gentile and Jew.

We read about this new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34, which reads that the Lord will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah. It won’t be like any covenant made with their forefathers when He took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt because they broke His covenant. The Lord said He would put His law in their minds and write it on their hearts. He will be their God, and they will be His people. A man will no longer educate his neighbor or a man his brother by saying, “Know God” because they’ll all know Him, from the least to the greatest. He will forgive their evilness and remember their sins no more.

Christians don’t follow Judaism because Jesus Christ fulfilled the Mosaic covenant. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said don’t think that He’s come to abolish the law or the prophets because He came to fulfill them, not abolish them. The writer of the Hebrews wrote that by calling this covenant new, He’s made the first obsolete, and what’s obsolete and aging will soon disappear, as detailed in Hebrews 8:13. As Christians, we don’t have to obey the old covenant anymore because it’s been replaced. Now, we have a better covenant with a better sacrifice, overseen by a better High Priest.

Hebrews 10:19-23 reminds us that since we have the conviction to enter the Holy Place by the blood of Jesus with a new and living way opened for us through the curtain that is His body. Since we have a priest over God’s house, we should draw closer to God with a genuine heart in complete confidence of faith, having our hearts scattered to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed purely. We should hold unswervingly to the hope we share, for He who promised is faithful. Jesus didn’t come into the world to start another religion because the world has more than enough religions.

He came to complete God’s work in redeeming sinful humanity. He came to conquer our enemy, Satan, and to seek and save the lost. Jesus came to fulfill the requirements of the law and establish a new covenant between God and humanity. Jesus came to redeem us all from evil and purify for Himself a people that are His, eager to do what’s good. Christianity is the result of Jesus’ finished work of salvation, and now, He builds His church. In this sense, Christianity isn’t a religion. Religion is man’s effort to reach up to God. However, Christianity teaches that God has reached down to us. Jesus, the Son of God and the second Person of the Trinity took on human flesh, and during His time on earth, God reached out to us.

Jesus wasn’t a Christian; He was a Jewish rabbi who followed the Jewish law that God had given to Moses. Under the law, He lived perfectly to present Himself as a sacrifice without flaws, acceptable under that law. Christianity is the climax of God’s plan and the completion of what God started when He set the Hebrew people apart from Himself.

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