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I call him Yeshua

I call him Yeshua, Sometimes Jesus; when I'm in awe, Master or Lord.

"Why do you call him Yeshua?" I'm often asked. "Why don't you just call him Jesus?" My initial reply is usually short."Yeshua's his name."

Here in America where people speak English they call him Jesus. In Mexico he's Senor Heysus. But his friends called him Yeshua. And I'm his friend.

Of course it doesn't really matter what you call him as long as you know who you are talking to. He wouldn't be offended if you called him Fred. How do I know he wouldn't be offended? As I've told you he's my friend. I know him very well and he's not easy to offend.

But there is another reason I call him Yeshua. The word Jesus has been used and abused over the centuries. It has gotten to a point in some Jewish circles [read most] that the word Jesus can't even be heard without a knee-jerk negative reaction. Time and time again marauding bands of gentiles who have called themselves "Christians" were lead by their religious leaders in acts of terror against local Jewish communities; all in the name of Jesus. It didn't happen once or twice to a few groups of isolated Jews. It has happened thousands of times to hundreds of thousands and even millions of Jews. Myriad's of Jews have been plundered, expelled, raped, robbed and murdered by people in the name of Jesus.

You've heard the phrase "guilt by association"? Obviously, evil people saying they represent Jesus doesn't make Jesus a bad guy. But to the ill-informed it makes him look bad. And even if it doesn't make him look bad the name that the abusers used just doesn't sound good to the abused ear. It results in an immediate negative reaction.

Imagine walking down the street and seeing a man in a red jacket. The man walks over and punches you full in the mouth. After you get up and spit out a few teeth you see he has gone. The next day it happens again. Another man in a red jacket. Day after day, year after year, it continues. Then one day as mysteriously as it started it stops. No more red jackets and no more assaults. Ten years pass; you are walking down the street and you see another red jacket. Do you think you might flinch? Do you think you might be afraid to turn your back on the person? You wouldn't trust the person. After all, he's got a red jacket.

There is of course nothing wrong with red jackets. But if my friend told me this story I'd never wear a red jacket in his presence again. I'd wear black, orange or purple but not red. I wouldn't argue; "Man, that was ten years ago, get over it." If I did, I'd be an idiot. My poor friend has been abused and the red jacket represents that abuse. I know exactly why he doesn't like red jackets. If I were him I'd feel the same.

Even so, there is absolutely nothing wrong with "Jesus", the Anglicized version of the Messiah's name. Jesus is just as good a name as any other. If I have a friend, however, that has been abused, or whose race has been abused, and the name Jesus represents that abuse, then I would no longer use the name Jesus in that friend's presence
(Romans 14:11-13). Yeshua would do nicely.

Heck, I'd even reverently use "Fred," that is, as long as we both knew who we were really talking about.

by Steve Shermett 1997, from  the website of
Congregation Beth Sar Shalom
5002 E. 4th Street  -  Tucson, Arizona 85711
(520) 326-2020

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