I had a pretty crazy experience a few nights ago as I was flying home from JFK (New York City) to LAX (Los Angeles). I had just had a wonderful weekend teaching at a Calvary Chapel in New Jersey. I was sitting near the back of a sold out Boeing 757, next to the window. The man next to me was an older orthodox Jew named Bob on his way home to California. I had a great conversation with him about Israel, archaeological ruins, Judaism, Bible prophecy, Islam, evidence for the existence of God, etc.
I asked him a lot of questions about Judaism to see if what I had learned about modern day Judaism in the books was really what the average Jew on the street believed today (it was!). It was a delightful conversation. We shared many laughs. Well, after a while I began to ask him questions about the messiah (e.g., How will you know who the messiah is? What will he do?). Most Jews today have rejected the possibility that Jesus is their messiah and believe that the messiah is still yet to come. I followed up those questions by asking him some questions regarding his view of certain passages in the Old Testament that I believe clearly point to Jesus (e.g., Isaiah 53, Daniel 9:26-27) and specifically His death. Jews today do not believe the messiah is going to come and die, but rule and reign as a king.
Well, on more than one occasion he had to admit that the questions were good questions but that he did not have an answer. I then got to explain the Christian perspective on these passages. He really seemed to enjoy hearing our perspective. I think he was a bit surprised that a Christian was so familiar with the Old Testament. (Many Jews believe Christians have sort of cast aside the Old Testament. Why? Well because they think that we think it is old, as in outdated or irrelevant, which of course is not the case).
I think some seeds were planted and I was thanking the Lord for allowing us to sit next to each other. I decided to give him some breathing room to think about what I had said. So I put on my headphones, but then a short time later, to my shock, he tapped me on the shoulder wanting to continue the conversation.
He brought up the Trinity. He said, "What do you think about the Trinity? Do you believe in the Trinity?" I said "Yes" and began explaining the doctrine to him (again from the Old Testament). Well, I was not prepared for what was about to happen.
As I was explaining the Christian view point on this, his wife (a woman probably in her sixties) who was sitting in the row in front of us, unbuckled her seat belt, stood up, turned around and started yelling at us (no exaggeration!):
"Stop talking about Jesus!! Stop it! Stop it! Why are you guys talking about Jesus?? Hunh? I can't take it anymore!! You are giving me a headache!!! I am going to tell the stewardess to separate you!! Why?? Why? Why must you talk about Jesus? That's all you want to talk about! Whhhhyyyyy???"
Bob was scared! She was angry! So what did Bob do? Did he rebuke her for seeking to rob us of our first amendment rights? No. Did he tell her to calm down? No. He was like a deer caught in the headlights of a mad drunk man with his foot on the gas. Bob froze and slowly sunk down into his chair. That was the end of our conversation. For the sake of his marriage and the rest of the people on the plane I didn't seek to continue it either. And I'll admit, there were some thoughts of self-preservation mixed in there as well.
There was not another word for two hours. I put my headphones on and started reading my book. A little while later it dawned on me. I can write a note to Bob! So I tore out a blank page of paper from the back of my book and wrote Bob a note. As I wrote I was catapulted back in time to the third grade. I felt like I was a little kid seeking to avoid being detected writing and passing notes. Well, there was to be no passing of notes. When I was finished, Bob was absorbed in an in-flight movie. So I stuck the letter in my shirt pocket to wait for a more opportune time.
As our 757 came down through the smog, uh, I mean clouds, over Los Angeles, I thought "It's now or never. I've got to give him the note." Well, as I was thinking this, Bob slowly turned to me and very quietly (understandably!) whispered, "Do you have a card?" I smiled, pulled the note out of my shirt pocket and successfully slipped it into his hands. He smiled back. And with that smile I knew he was acknowledging we had successfully gone undetected by his wife. We got off the plane and that was the last I saw of Bob and his wife.
My heart's desire and my prayer to God for Bob and his wife is for their salvation (Romans 10:1). Would you say a prayer for them?
If you would like help witnessing to a Jewish friend, check out our link on Judaism. Much of what I shared with Bob can be found right there on our website. Blessings to you!