Vendyl Jones wrote a book called, Will the Real Jesus Please Stand? It was published by the Institute of Judaic-Christian Research in 1983. The picture on the previous page is the cover of that book. (I borrowed the title for this article.) Vendyl Jones was born in 1930, and died in 2010. In the late 1990s, I was in communication with him.
Vendyl Jones was a great scholar, but like Hugh Schonfield before him, he eventually became more and more heretic. I still have Schonfield's book, The History of Jewish Christianity, which was published in Great Britain in 1936. Despite the title, the theology in this book was very much what I would call Messianic Judaism. In those years, it was expected that all Jews who believe in Jesus should become good Christians and become part of a church. Schonfield believed that Jewish believers should maintain their heritage, be Torah-observant, and not assimilate into the church. This was a rather radical view at that time.
Schonfield was born in London, England, in 1901. As a young adult, he became a believer in Yeshua, and joined the International Hebrew Christian Alliance (IHCA). He was later was expelled from the Executive Committee of the IHCA in 1937, just one year after his book came out. I suspect that his book was not well-received by the Hebrew Christians of that era. He passed away in 1988. I used to have him on the mail list for Petah Tikvah. He would sometimes write to castigate me for something he didn't agree with, and also sometimes to compliment me on something he liked. He requested that I not publish anything he wrote. I kept the correspondence in a safe place, so safe that I was unable to find it after he died!
However, Schonfield became increasingly isolated and heretical after 1937. He also came to reject his book The History of Jewish Christianity. He stopped all further publication of it, and actually went to various bookstores to purchase these books so he could destroy them! I happen to have a photocopy of the book, which I treasure. Schofield eventually wrote The Passover Plot in 1965, which was (in my humble opinion) extremely blasphemous. He also seemed rather pantheistic, blending creation with the Creator.
Vendyl Jones was a devout, King James only Baptist. After much research, he recognized that the Jesus he was following was not the historical Jesus. In his newsletter (Researcher) dated March 1998, he wrote an article called, "Who is and Who was Jesus?" in which he wrote the following:
"It is evident that Christians throughout history and in diverse locales have created a Jesus that conforms to their own ethnic image. Spanish art, for example, depicts Jesus and his disciples as Hispanic. In such paintings, the topography and Moorish architecture are that of Spain, not the Middle East. In like manner, Italian artists always portray Jesus and his disciples as Italians, while Russian painters will clothe the baby Jesus and Mary in garments of fur.
"In many of these paintings, the genitalia of the child is exposed. The boy is not circumcised and is unquestionably a Gentile and not a Jew! Such renderings reveal the radical difference between the historical Jesus and the theological Jesus. A portrait of Jesus as an uncircumcised child who is obviously more than eight days old displays on the part of the painter either complete ignorance of Judaism or a strong theological statement against Judaism. In reality, scholars and painters were never so ignorant. The artists were supervised and directed by the clergy as to how to present their image of Jesus."
In this same newsletter, Vendyl Jones writes, "In the Church Council that determined whether the Jewish Scripture (Tanakh/'Old Testament') should be included in the Christian Canon, it was decided by a margin of only one vote." The de-Judaizng of Jesus was in full swing. Regretfully, despite being a great scholar, Vendyl Jones eventually became more heretical, even studying (and believing!) such things as Kabbalah and Tanya. He also ended up renouncing his book, Will the Real Jesus Please Stand? He would not allow it to be republished. However, used copies of it are available on Amazon.com for $925.87. It's a pretty good book, but not worth almost a thousand dollars!
What caused both of these otherwise intelligent men to fall from faith in Yeshua? I believe it was that the Scriptures (both Testaments!) ceased to be primary. They started reading Talmud, as well as Kabbalah and other esoteric literature. I have no problem with reading things like Talmud - but in moderation! Scripture must come first.
As Vendyl Jones made clear on the previous page, there are many Jesuses out there. Rav Sha'ul recognized this when he wrote: "For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or your receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear it well." (2 Cor. 11:4)
I don't believe that another Jesus can save us. Curiously, Jesus has been adopted into many religions, including many Oriental cults as well as even in Islam, where they expect Jesus to come back, promote Islam, and destroy the churches!
The one Jesus that is not widely accepted is the Jewish Jesus, Yeshua the Messiah! Regretfully, Gentiles around the world have taken the Jewish Messiah and turned Him into something of a Greek god. He wasn't a blond, blue-eyed Swede, nor was He Chinese or African. I presume that He was a swarthy-complexioned Middle-Eastern Jew, not at all like the Hollywood version or the Jesus of European artists from earlier centuries.
I am not knocking everything taught about Jesus in the churches. Messianic Judaism and Christianity are in agreement on many fundamentals. He was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-2). He was crucified (Psalm 22) for our transgressions (Isaiah 53), providing atonement for the sins to those who choose to follow Him. Yeshua was also resurrected from the dead, and will return to reign for a thousand years.
However, in Matthew 5:17-19 Yeshua tells us, "Think not that I have come to abolish the Law (Torah), or the prophets: I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill. 18For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any way pass from the law, until all be fulfilled. 19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
The Jesus that is taught in most churches is the Jesus of Dispensational Theology, whereby the Dispensation of Law has been abolished, and replaced by the Dispensation of Grace. This is much like the fickle Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, keeping their followers nervous, never knowing what is expected of them each day. My Bible tells me that God never changes in Malachi 3:6, and that Yeshua is the same yesterday, today, and forever in Hebrews 13:8. There was grace in the Tanakh (OT), as was demonstrated after the sins of Abraham and King David. And there is Law in the Newer Testament. Yeshua commends those who keep his commandments in John 14:21.
Moshe gave us great instructions on how to determine who is a true prophet, and who is a false prophet in Dt. 12:32 to Dt. 13:10:
Deut. 12:32: "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to nor take away from it. Deut. 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2And the sign or the wonder comes to pass, whereof he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them,' 3 you shall not hearken to the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for YHWH your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4You shall walk after YHWH your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him, and cleave to Him. 5And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death, because he has spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust you out of the way which the LORD your God commanded you to walk in. So you shall put the evil away from the midst of you.
6 If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend, which is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods,' which you have not known, you, or your fathers; 7Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, near to you, or far off from you, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth. 8You shall not consent to him, nor hearken to him; neither shall your eye pity him, neither shall you spare, neither shall you conceal him. 9 But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10And you shall stone him with stones, that he shall die; because he has sought to thrust you away from the LORD thy God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage."
The above passage from Moses warns us about false prophets that will try to get us to worship false deities, or who try to get us to disobey God's commandments. This would also apply to false Messiahs (or Christs if you prefer). Any Jesus who is anti-Torah would also be an anti-Messiah (or anti-Christ). Earlier, Moshe gave similar warnings in Deuteronomy 4:1-2:
"Now therefore, O Israel, hearken to the statutes and to the judgments, which I am teaching you, for to do them, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers gives to you. 2 You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of YHWH your God which I command you."
The beginning of verse 2 may pertain primarily to Judaism, which tends to add to the instructions given to us through Moses, often making it a burden to try to walk in obedience to God. Judaism also gives us the Talmud, an immense encyclopedic commentary on Torah made up of many volumes. In addition, many great rabbis have written huge commentaries on the Torah. Many Jews spend far more time on the Talmud and commentaries than they do with the actual Scriptures. In addition, there is Midrash, which is a collection of Rabbinic stories often loosely based on the Bible. I'm not saying that this is all garbage. There are many jewels in the pages of these books. I also prefer Rabbinic commentary to Christian commentary. However, it can be maddening to see how so many man-made precepts have made Judaism into a difficult religion to follow.
But then Moses warns us about those who take away from the commandments. This, of course, would pertain primarily to Christianity. Most Christians have no desire to observe the biblical Sabbath, which is the seventh day of the week, not the first. Most Christians do not believe in the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. When you quote passages from the Tanakh to prove a point or support a doctrine or belief, they will often say, "Well, that's just the Old Testament." Very sad. During the First Century, the only Bible that the early believers had was the "Old Testament," which they loved and treasured. It is tragic, perhaps even heretical, when Christians speak of the "Old Testament" in such a disparaging way. On the other hand, Christians also add to the Word, with many man-made commandments and holidays of their own which are not in the Bible.
1 John 2:3-6 had some harsh words to share with us:
"And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him. 5 But whoever keeps his word, in him truly is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. 6 He that says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked."
We know, of course, that Yeshua walked as a Torah-observant Jew, and we are expected to walk as He walked. And if we say that we love Him, but refuse to keep his commandments, then we are called liars. Wow! Very harsh words indeed!
Will the real Jesus please stand? I believe He already did stand. We must, however, avoid the counterfeit Jesus presented to us in 2 Corinthians 11:4. There are many who have swallowed some terrible theologies who will one day be surprised. In Matthew 7:21-23, Yeshua said:
"Not everyone that says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name have done many wonderful works?' 23And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice Lawlessness.'"
These people sound like those I would like to see in my congregation! They cast out demons and do many wonderful works. Yet Yeshua will say, "I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice Lawlessness." Those who believe in a counterfeit Jesus who abolished the Torah may be in for a heartbreaking surprise. (I do hope that I am wrong.)
"He that turns away his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer shall be an abomination." (Proverbs 28:9)