I invite you to grab a cup of coffee and join me for a few minutes at a table in a little town called Emmaus and allow Jesus to warm our weary souls. I have had the privilege of serving as a Pastor for the last 20 years and as an Assistant Pastor for 8 years before that. The blessings have been many but I know firsthand how the lukewarm apathy that can settle over our congregations can creep into our own souls as well. We, like those disheartened Jewish disciples, need a fresh start in our walk with Christ. They were at a loss for where to turn. Even if the reports of a resurrection were true, those early disciples needed a “resurrection” from their personal despair. What they heard that day steeled their faith and stoked their zeal to repeat that seven mile hike in record time. Do you sense a need for a new personal “revelation” of Jesus? Maybe that room full of disheartened disciples in our little town needs to first see that we have seen Him, then they will want to see more of Him for their selves.
Let’s sit in Jesus’ seat for a few minutes. Imagine having just experienced unjust trials, vicious torture, inhumane execution, judgment for the sin of mankind and then being forsaken by your Heavenly Father. Having conquered hell and risen from the grave, you find that not even your Apostles believed the report of the eyewitness you sent. Those incredulous words, “we thought it was He that should have redeemed Israel” surely would have grieved your soul. Every Pastor knows the feeling of wanting to exclaim, “What’s it going to take for you folks to have just one ounce of faith in God?” The resurrected Jesus was sitting right in front of them, yet their eyes were veiled behind hopeless hearts. Then everything changed! “He was known to them in breaking of bread.” Did they for the first time catch a glimpse of his nail pierced hands? Jesus did say later that same day, “Behold my hands and my feet,” Luke 24:40. But for those of us who will never look on those wounds this side of Heaven, what is there in the Emmaus cottage, or in the upper room account, that can reveal Jesus anew to us? Today we have access to the special effects of the graphic crucifixion of Christ portrayed on film. Many, in an attempt to supplement our weak faith, have found these to be nothing more than an emotional fix. Why is it that the impact of visual stimuli of the cross is so short lived? Maybe the most precious moment in history is reduced to a mere dramatic tragedy. They sat down and watched Him die.
It was something far more powerful than a peek at those nail pierced hands that rejuvenated the discouraged disciples. No doubt that was the eye opener. But it was the opening of their understanding by the living Word that carried them further than just back to Jerusalem. This transformation would propel them all the way to ends of the earth. What we need is more than a Jesus movie. We need a fresh understanding of Him. It is He that opened their faithless eyes. Although the unabridged content of the Emmaus and the upper room discourses is not available, the outline is. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself,” Luke 24:27. The common denominator is the subject matter, Himself. The content is “in all the scriptures.” The teacher is the “Word made flesh.” The disciples names have changed from Cleopas and Mary to your name and mine. And the outcome of seeing Him anew is certain. Hearts aflame for Jesus always produce feet that move to seek the lost and proclaim His glory!
How long has it been since you allowed Jesus to reveal himself to someone using your finger pointing out the scriptures? Can you show Jesus to an unsaved Jewish person in a couple of hours using the Law, Prophets and Psalms (Writings). I have never had a Jewish person receive Jesus as their Messiah in only one sitting. But I have had a few who came to that “Aha” moment over a period of several months. Their understanding slowly opened. Then their eyes were opened and they received Him for who He is. My training with this Emmaus model during my first two years of ministry in Jewish missions set me on an approach to scriptures, in the context of Jewish culture, that has affected every area of my study, teaching, preaching and witnessing. Full immersion into witnessing to people who did not acknowledge the New Testament forced me to “learn the language” of the same Emmaus Road plan of salvation that Jesus and the Apostles used. I am deeply indebted to those who trained me in Jewish evangelism early in my ministry. If you want to have a personal revival for Jesus, take His challenge personally to rediscover Him the in Jewish scriptures. Then build a loving relationship with a Jewish person and begin to walk with them down the Emmaus Road. With love, prayer and the Spirit’s work you will find that opportunity to sit down and answer those questions disguised as objections.
The transformation you will undergo through taking the Gospel to the Jew first will inspire you and your church. Is there a greater way to receive the blessing of Genesis 12:3 than to bless Abraham’s seed with the One through whom all families on the earth have been blessed? Your study and preaching will come alive as you behold Him through types, proofs and prophecies in the Old Testament. One unexpected benefit I gained through learning to witness with only the O.T. was that it equipped me to respond to those in cults who take the N.T. out of context and superimpose Law onto Grace. Cults are usually based on a replacement of Israel by the church theologically and denial of the deity of Jesus. You’ll discover great passages like Isaiah 48:12-17 that show how God called Himself the Messiah/God. Equipping your people in these scriptures will inoculate them from swallowing the flawed ideologies of replacement theologies. It will deepen their roots in sound doctrine which, sadly, is no longer in vogue.
We at Jewish Awareness Ministries have each had our Emmaus experiences with Jewish people, some in their own personal salvation experience. We are on a mission to develop disciples among Pastors and their congregations who have a heart to build relationships with people who desperately need the Redeemer of Israel. We desire to partner with you in Jewish evangelism to personally equip you and your folks.
With increasing understanding of Jesus in the O.T. our feet are better prepared for seeking the lost. Let us help you with the biblical mandate to seek “the Jew first and also the Greek.” You will never find a more invigorating experience than being in the scriptures with a Jewish person when they see Jesus for the first time. To truly love the Jewish people we must stand with Israel and be equipped from the only scriptures that they recognize to help them see Jesus as the coming Messiah who already came.
It is very probable that we are on the cusp of the second greatest harvest in History. Scripture is clear that Jesus could return in the clouds and call his Bride to meet Him at any time, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-19. The signs of the coming tribulation that follow the Rapture are casting their long shadows across our world stage. All nations, sadly including America, are falling into line against Israel as is prophesied. The Russian bear is moving in her direction driven by carnivorous hunger. Europe is returning to the pre-holocaust hostility toward Jews. College campuses across the west are becoming breeding grounds of anti-Semitism through the (BDS) Boycott, Divest & Sanctions movement that seeks to de-legitimize Israel’s right to Judea and Samaria known as “the West Bank.” Jewish people need to look around and see that born again believers and our churches are the true friends standing with them and by Israel’s side. We can help you build bridges of faith through an emphasis in your church on Israel in Prophecy, Hebrew Christian fellowships, Jewish Roots Sunday School series, Christ in the Passover Dinners and other Feasts of Israel presentations.
Though our primary motivation has been to get people saved ahead of the Rapture, it is clear from scripture that the greatest response to the Gospel that has ever happened will come during the Tribulation period. Not only will 144,000 Jewish men be saved and become evangelists, but “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” will receive Christ, Revelation 7:9-10. The leading edge of that impending harvest is Jewish Missions today. We may be sowing seed that will sink into the softening soil of the very Jewish minds and hearts of those Tribulation Saints. They will take the Gospel to an innumerable host of gentiles in the not so distant future.
Dear Pastor, He has counted you faithful putting you into the ministry. He will be faithful to complete the work He has started in you. He joins you on the dusty road home. He, the good shepherd, wants to restore your soul. You can finish your course with joy. He is our only source of joy and He wants our joy to be full. Let’s invite our Lord in. He desires to “sup” with us. We cannot let Him stand outside of the door of our church. We under shepherds are the doorkeepers. Our hearts can burn with a passion for Jesus and for the salvation of the least of His brethren. Then we can set out on a new path to bring them the message of salvation in their Messiah. That night in the upper room, Jesus said to the Apostles, “And ye are witnesses of these things,” Luke 24:48. We stand ready to come along side of you with the personnel and resources to help your folks take the Gospel “to the Jew first.”
John reminded the Church in Philadelphia that Christ could open a door that no man could shut. Recently this verse stood out to me. My Jewish Savior who called me into Jewish Missions has the key. “These things saith He that hath the key of David… behold I have set before thee an open door,” Revelation 3:8. Let’s first open the door and spend time with Him in the word, Revelation 3:20.
A journey down the Emmaus road will bring new insight, encourage and revitalize you and your local body, and give you a fresh breath of God!
To Him be the glory!
Pastor Ken Overby
Northern Neck Baptist Church
Editor’s note: Pastor Overby has resigned from his ministry at Northern Neck effective June 30, 2014, as God has led him to serve in Jewish missions. He is now raising support to be a Field Representative/Missionary with Jewish Awareness Ministries in the Charlotte, NC area. Ken can be reached through the headquarters of Jewish Awareness Ministries if you would like him to speak at your church.