Was Jesus Jewish or Christian? What a silly question – He is the Messiah, come to the Jew and then through the Jew to the Gentile. But it seems that throughout history, the Christian Church has tried to present Jesus as non-Jewish as possible. However, this is an distorted presention of the Messiah and serves to alienate His people, the Jews, from Him.
Jesus, or Yeshua – as His peers knew Him – was certainly a real Jewish person – but He was more than a man. He was (and is) God. Jesus lived a Jewish life. He was born in Bethlehem, and dedicated as prescribed in the Torah. His parents were Torah-observant (see Luke 2), and so were His aunt and uncle (as referenced in Luke 1). As an adult, His disciples and were Jews and they called Him ‘Rabbi’.
He stated in Matthew 5 that He didn’t come to abolish the Law (Torah), but fulfill it. Yeshua not only taught others how to live a Jewish life, He lived it Himself. The outward signs of this were such things as wearing tzitzit (tassles) on His clothing and observing the Feasts commanded in Leviticus 23. Although not commanded in Scripture, He also observed Hanukah.The inward sign of His Judaism was a circumcised heart. When faced with temptation, Yeshua answered from the Old Testament Scripture, and when teaching, He taught from the Old Testament Scripture, and when admonishing, He quoted from the Old Testament Scripture.
Jesus died a Jew, condemned by the Sanhedrin (but crucified by the Gentile Romans) and was buried according to Jewish custom of the time. He was resurrected a Jew. Yeshua the risen Jew told his Jewish disciples to go out and teach all the Gentiles. After His ascension into Heaven, He made Himself known to Paul, the Jewish man who became the apostle to the Gentiles.
Unlike the way the Church often presents Him, Jesus was a Jew. When we read the Bible, we must remember that. Rabbinic Judaism isn’t the faith of the Bible. Christianity, as practiced by much of the Church (denying the Jewish roots of the faith and elevating Church tradition over the Bible), isn’t the faith of the Bible.
Salvation comes from Jesus and our faith in Him. There is nothing more Jewish than receiving the Messiah. And for Gentiles, we have the privilege of citizenship in Heaven when we receive Jesus. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, and at the same time, Jesus saves every Gentile who calls on His name. Jesus is the Son of God.