How do you feel when you’re successful, fifty and Jewish,
and your 21-year old daughter tells you she believes in Jesus?
A review of Stan Telchin’s international best seller Betrayed.
"Jews just don’t believe in Jesus ..."
To her parents, Stan and Ethel Telchin, their daughter’s acceptance of Christianity not only appeared to be a betrayal of her family, but also of her Jewish people and its religious tradition. "But Judy, you’re Jewish ... Jews just don’t believe in Jesus. How can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus? It’s impossible!" (p.22). However, for her parents Judith remained a child whom they could not disown because they loved her and they knew that she loved and respected them. How could their daughter’s new faith fit into the context of a Jewish family?
That became a question to which Judith’s father believed he had to find the answer. For that reason he took his daughter’s challenge seriously: "Look Dad, you have just got to find out more about this. You don’t have to believe what I believe or believe me, but you’re an intelligent man. Read the Bible for yourself and find out whether it’s true or not. All of you do it. It’s either true or it’s false. If He isn’t the Messiah you’ll know it. And if He is, you’ll know it. But read the Bible for yourselves and come to your own conclusions" (p.22).
Looking for answers
Stan began to read the Bible with the intention of finding enough arguments to win his daughter back to the traditional faith of their people. However, things took an unexpected course when he eventually reached the New Testament accounts of the life of Jesus. In Betrayed he records, "I was stunned because I ... realised how little I knew about this man. And yet He had come, he said, to help the Jewish people" (p.36).
"After reading and analysing the four gospels in the New Testament, I worked through my notes and came up with five basic questions, I felt had to be resolved.
Do I believe that God really exists?
Do I believe that the Jewish Bible (The Tanakh) is the divinely inspired word of God?
Does this Bible prophesy about a coming Messiah?
Is Jesus the Messiah?
If he is, what does that do to me?
"For in my mind and heart I had come to one inescapable conclusion. Finding the answers to these questions was the most important work of my life." (p.47).
"What do I believe?"
Beyond this, Stan Telchin was confronted with the serious question, What do I actually believe? Answering honestly led him to consider anew the faith of his people, his family, and the history of Israel from the call of Abraham to the present, in which God’s covenant with the Jewish people is the driving force. "A thought suddenly rammed into my mind. If a covenant between two parties usually called for a ‘cutting’ between them, and God had asked His people to be circumcised as their ‘shedding of blood’, then what was the ‘cutting’ on God’s side?
"The image of Jesus being pierced and bleeding ... swam before my eyes. I tried to set it aside. But it wouldn’t go away" (p.74).
From here the reader follows with great suspense the path which leads Stan Telchin to the conviction that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel. At the end of his journey he not only finds Judith again, but also her sister Ann and his wife Ethel who, through their own independent study, have come to believe in Jesus.
The big issue
The final chapters concern themselves with the question of Jewish identity and faith in Jesus. The following quote is noteworthy:
"How do I explain the last 2,000 years? I cannot. But I know this: the real issue is not the secular history of this period. Nor is it the ‘Jewishness’ of those who believe. The real issue is Jesus. Is He or is He not God’s anointed? Is He who He says He is? Is He or is He not the Messiah?
"God is! The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is. The Messiah is. Jesus is the Messiah. Oh, the freedom that wells up within me. I need not dance to the old drumbeats of ‘custom’ or of ‘tradition’, or of ‘old hatred’ or the ‘fear’. My God reigns! And in Him I live and move and have my being ... This is the good news that awaits all who seek to find and know God!" (p.119).
Review by Alfred Burchartz
Zondervan, 139pp, p/b, ISBN 9780551009417
Available from CWI online shop at £7.49 (including p&p within the UK)