Challenging the comments of Jews for Judaism
Jews for Judaism, an "anti-missionary" group, has a website that exists solely to debunk Yeshua (whom they keep referring to as "Jesus"), and to make Christianity and Messianic Judaism sound like evil cults trying to force Jews to convert. Among the hateful rhetoric on their site are various allegations and opinions designed to make one doubt the validity of Yeshua and the entire new Covenant. Below are just a few of their various assertions.
We would like to make it known upfront that we are not defending Christianity; but rather, YHWH and His Son Y'shua. Christianity is off the mark in that they have taken the Name of our Messiah, along with the dates of His birth, death and resurrection and ignored His commanded Seventh Day Sabbath and the Feasts in order to come up with their own "holy days" - both of which are steeped in paganism.
Rabbinic attacks on the Resurrection, and seeing anti-Semitism in the Gospel of John....
Jews for Judaism's Assertions/Rabbinical Judaism's Challenge:
Question: Why is it said that the term "the Jews" as generally used in the Gospel of John is anti-Semitic?
Jews for Judaism: "The Jews" is used in the Gospel of John seventy-one times as compared to a total of sixteen in the Synoptic Gospels. The overwhelming majority of the seventy-one occurrences convey a negative attitude. The author of John prefers to speak simply of "the Jews" when describing Jesus' interaction with the Jewish population of Galilee and Judea, leaders and commoners alike. The term indiscriminately designates either the Jewish people as a whole, the inhabitants of Judea and/or Galilee, or the Jewish religious leaders - the chief priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees. It is frequently used in the Gospel of John with an unpleasant connotation. The author of John separates Jesus and his disciples from "the Jews." He compounds his attack, deliberately encouraging his audience to see Jews as unfaithful and Judaism as invalid and both as part of the forces of evil and darkness. This author seeks to create an overwhelming aversion to the Jewish people and Judaism. As a result, there pervades this Gospel a constant harangue relentlessly directed against "the Jews," that is, the entire nation of Israel, not any specific faction. For example, all Jews are indiscriminately attacked in John 5:15-18, John 6:41, John 7:10-13, John 10:31, John 11:53-54, John 19:12, John 20:19. It is passages such as these that show the true target of the Gospel's malevolence is all the Jews. As a rule, whenever John's Jesus employs the phrase "the Jews" in a pejorative sense, the entire Jewish population is involved with no distinction between groups being made or intended in the text. The use of the generalizing description, "the Jews," shows the calculated effort undertaken by the evangelist to condemn the entire Jewish people in the eyes of his audience. It is used as a direct and calculated attempt to depict "the Jews," as a nation, as a villainous people. Its use is part of the author's campaign to show his audience that the Jews, as followers of the devil, are against not only Jesus but God Himself (John 8:44-47). Indeed, that is exactly how Christians have understood the contents of this Gospel throughout the centuries.
The Netzarim Response:
Let's get something straight: The Jews - not the pagans or the rest of the secular world - were upset at Yeshua for trying to show them the error of their ways by being increasingly rabbinic. The Jews had inserted too much man-made thought into YHWH's Word to the point of ridiculousness (i.e., don't spit on the side of a hill on Sabbath, because if it rolls downhill and makes a mud-ball it will be considered work, which will anger God....) The Jews absolutely resented the fact that Yeshua preached that He was equal with God, and they couldn't handle the fact that He was performing miracles in His Name, which none of THEM could do.
John wasn't being "anti-Semetic" by the things he said. He was simply telling the story as it was: The Jews were provoking Yeshua, stoning Him, speaking badly about Him, or planning to kill Him - and it was the Jews who convinced Pilate to crucify Him! It was the Jews; not the Greeks, the Russians, the Transylvanians, or the pygmies of Australia. That is a BIBLICAL FACT.
We ask that you remove the blinders from your eyes long enough to assimilate some very important facts. The Jews are God's Chosen People - chosen for a reason: To take Torah into the world and safeguard and preserve it (Genesis 49:10, Micah 4:2)! This was their calling from "Day One"; this is what God tasked Abraham with (Genesis 17). (He never said to "keep it from the Gentiles so they can never find Me!")If you will remember, throughout the Tanach, God blessed Israel whenever they were ON His path, and He punished them accordingly whenever they were OFF His path....
To see YHWH's "big picture", you need to separate yourselves from the fears and from the sarcasm and the hatred and the "worldly" garbage to which you have succumbed. What you are doing by adamantly negating Yeshua and by spewing forth hateful rhetoric about believers, is no better than the tactics used by Hitler, Luther, the Ottoman Empire, the Inquisitions, or the Crusades. You are RATIONALIZING with your limited human mindsets the things of God, rather than digging into the Truth. You are, in effect "playing God" because you are setting yourselves up as judge and jury of those people who have studied the Bible and discovered for themselves that Yeshua has fulfilled most of the Tanach prophesies and promises. In Deuteronomy 32 (along with many other Scriptures), God proclaims that vengeance is His. YHWH and only YHWH is the Judge of the world; YOU are not....
Now, let's take a look at "the big picture": The Bible tells us that it wasn't ALL Jews, but a small faction who were responsible for Yeshua's death. There were basically four groups of Jews during Yeshua's time: (1) The Pharisees (priests) and their (2) Jewish followers; (3) zealots, who wanted to overthrow Rome; and (4) the Apostles. The power-hungry Pharisees - who were leading the Jews astray, and were way off God's track with their rabbinic thoughts and ideas - were the very people responsible for Yeshua's crucifixion. The irony is, unbeknownst to them, through their actions, they were also responsible for bringing their people back on track!
So, rather than being upset about the Brit Chadasha's supposed condemnation of the Jews, try to view it as a positive thing: Not only are the Jews YHWH's Chosen, but they were also preordained by God to bring about the redemption of the entire world! The murder of Yeshua was supposed to occur. Without His death on the stake, his purpose on earth would have been meaningless. He was preordained to martyr himself (against which there is NO Torah prohibition!), and someone had to set the proverbial wheels in motion. YHWH chose YOU - the JEWS - to fulfill His prophecies about the Messiah!
The world needs to thank you - not condemn you - for that. God said that every knee will bow to Yeshua when he returns (Isaiah 45:23-25; Phillipians 2:10-11). This includes every Jew, every Christian, everyone of any "religious" denomination or cult, and even the unbelievers of the world. Thanks to him, no more animal sin sacrifices required! Whether or not you choose to believe that is up to you....
Question: According to the New Testament, should all of Christianity be condemned because some that profess to be Christians have perpetrated horrific crimes in the name of Jesus?
Jews for Judaism: Matthew's Jesus declares: "Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorns, nor figs from thistles, are they? Thus, every good tree bears good fruit, but the rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-20; see also Luke 6:43-45). In these verses, Jesus vigorously affirms his opinion that what is good cannot possibly produce evil, and conversely, that what is evil cannot possibly produce good: "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree produce good fruit." Viewed from this New Testament all or nothing perspective, Christianity cannot be considered good since so many wrongs have issued from it since its inception. To argue, as many Christian apologists do, that the evils resulting to the world in the wake of Christianity are not really of Christian origin is tantamount to claiming that the bad fruit growing on a tree were not produced by the tree. No amount of explaining can absolve Christianity from the innumerable wrongs stemming from the hegemony it has exercised over vast areas and peoples in the course of it tortuous history. Matthew also records Jesus as saying: "Not everyone who says to me: 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of the heavens, but he who does the will of my Father who is in the heavens. Many will say to me on that day: 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform powerful works?' And then I will declare to them: 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness'" (Matthew 7:21-23). Jesus' above statements do not equivocate. It's all or nothing. How does this apply to Christianity, which has spoken in the name of Jesus and in his name "performed powerful works?" Could Jesus possibly accept any group or individual that claims to be Christian? To be true to his own dictum that bad fruit can never be produced by a good tree, Jesus would disown and reject Christianity for all the evil it has perpetrated in his name. No Christian group or individual is exempt for all are the fruit of a bad tree. That is because many of the horrors Christians have subjected the world to are the direct result of Jesus' teachings as found in the Gospels.
The Netzarim Response:
You're absolutely right. Christians have their own theology going. They have changed the name of YHWH's Messiah, along with the dates of his birth, death and resurrection, and come up with their own "holy days" of Christmas and Easter instead of adhering to the commanded Seventh Day Sabbath and Biblical Feasts...all, while dining on swine and shellfish! That is exactly why many Christians are coming out of their respective churches and finding their way to Messianic synagogues!
Man has twisted Scripture to the point where it is often unrecognizable. Man, with his limited, human mindset, has often followed that "small, still voice" that is Satan's deceit and, consequently, did horrendous things "in the name of the Lord". Yes, Jews most definitely have a reason to be angry at Christians. After all, Christians have been persecuting, them - even trying to completely annihilate them - in the "name of the Lord". Ultimately, however, none of their attempts ever worked because the Jews are still here! Why? Because the JEWS ARE GOD'S CHOSEN PEOPLE! God will NOT allow His People to become annihilated!
In the meantime, stone-throwing and blame-games will do absolutely NO GOOD! The only thing you're accomplishing is to make yourselves look foolish - both in the eyes of God and the eyes of your fellow human beings. After all, Orthodox Jews and their disciples aren't exactly "lily-white" either. While they are accusing Christians and Messianic Believers of being "murdering, deceitful, despicable" excuses for human beings, perhaps they need to be reminded of the fact that they (traditional Jews - most of whom today are secular) themselves have done some fairly horrendous things to their Messianic brethren, as well.
Question: What is one reason Jews do not accept the Christian belief that Jesus is the incarnation of God?
Jews for Judaism: Christians claim that in the birth of Jesus there occurred the miracle of the incarnation of God in the form of a human being. To say that God became truly a human being invites a number of questions. Let us ask the following about the alleged truly man-truly god Jesus. What happened to his foreskin after his circumcision (Luke 2:21)? Did it ascend to heaven, or did it decompose as with any human piece of flesh? During his lifetime what happened to his hair, nails, and blood shed from wounds? Did the cells of his body die as in ordinary human beings? If his body did not function in a truly human way, he could not be truly human as well as truly God. Yet, if his body functioned exactly in a human way, this would nullify any claim to divinity. It would be impossible for any part of God, even if incarnate, to decompose in any way and still be considered God. By definition, not mystery, the everlasting, one God, in whole or in part, does not die, disintegrate, or decompose: "For I the Lord do not change" (Malachi 3:6). Did Jesus' flesh dwell in safety after his death? 1 Peter 3:18 states Jesus was "put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit." 1 Corinthians 15:44-45 claims Jesus was "raised a spiritual body," that is, he "became a life-giving spirit." No mention of the survival of the flesh is alluded to. In Acts 2:31, it is claimed Peter stated that following the alleged resurrection Jesus' body did not see decay. Paul is alleged to have also made this claim (Acts 13:34-37). However, unless Jesus' body never underwent "decay" during his lifetime he could not be God, but if it did not undergo "decay" then he was not truly human.
The Netzarim Response:
The Refiner's Fire challenges YOU to show the world how YHWH formed the universe and how He spoke through a donkey. Tell us exactly how He formed Adam and Eve, and how He arranged every little molecule in the entire universe. Tell us exactly what manna was, what it tasted like, and how it sustained millions of Israelites for forty years out in the wilderness. Tell us where Yeshua's body is - and then we'll tell you where you can find His foreskin....
These silly comments reveal the extremes that Jews for Judaism will go to in order to disprove Yeshua's divinity! Is it really so hard to grasp the fact that the same God who is powerful enough to have created the entire universe, is also capable of sending an "arm" (Isaiah 53:1) down to earth in the form of a human male Messiah, so that man could both better understand and relate to Him? (After all, YHWH was with the Hebrews in the form of "a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night" [Exodus 13:21, 22; Numbers 14:14; Nehemiah 9:12, 19], and they didn't really appreciate or understand Him - as evidenced by their behavior at Mount Sinai while Moshe was receiving the Ten Mitzvot. And they obviously didn't appreciate or understand Him throughout the entire Tanach [Old Covenant], because they kept on straying....)
In all honesty, when it comes right down to it, who can actually prove what happened to Yeshua's foreskin, or His hair, or whatever? Who really cares? Who can actually show how God created the universe, or formed the nucleus of an atom, or explain exactly why He made man, in the first place (not to mention the fact that He gave us free will, to boot!)? And who are we to question God or how or why He does things? What blasphemous arrogance! It's a matter of FAITH, people! Faith according to what Torah and "the rest of the story" clearly explains!
Question: If almah means "young woman" in Hebrew why did the Jewish scholar who translated the Book of Isaiah into Greek use a Greek word for "virgin," parthenos?
Jews for Judaism: The Septuagint is not necessarily a literal translation. Therefore, the use of parthenos by the Septuagint translator of the Book of Isaiah may have best represented his interpretive understanding of the physical state of the young woman of Isaiah 7:14 at the time of the annunciation of the sign. Thus, its use does not naturally lead to the conclusion that he was also speaking of virginal conception. In fact, the presence of parthenos as the rendering of 'almah', did not give rise in any Jewish community of the pre-Christian era to a belief in the virginal conception of Immanuel.
The Netzarim Response:
According to the 70 Jewish rabbis who worked on the Septuagint translation of the Old Covenant, the Hebrew word "almah" (Isaiah 7:14) is translated "parthenos" meaning virgin. Furthermore, the word "almah" is used just seven times in the Old Covenant and refers every time to what can only be a virgin. So when you say "almah" is mistranslated, you are disagreeing with traditional Jewish thought.
Even if the word almah in Isaiah 7:14 meant "a young woman" - in the context of the Tanakh it always referred to "a young woman of unsullied reputation," which is why the Jewish translators of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Tanakh prepared 200 years before Yeshua's birth, rendered this word into Greek as parthenos, "virgin". This is also the word used at Mat 1:23.
There are hundreds of Jewish and Gentile Bible scholars who believe that the prophet Isaiah was predicting the virgin birth of the Messiah. A list of the Jewish scholars alone would include such names as Dr. Sanford C. Mills, Milton Lindberg, Dr. Arthur W. Kac, Dr. Henry J. Heydt, Dr. Leopold Cohn, Dr. Jacob Gartenhaus and Dr. David L. Cooper. All of these eminent Jewish theologians believe that the Hebrew word "almah" is best translated by the word "virgin."
In Isaiah 9:6, you will find a description of this special child who was born to a virgin: "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on his shoulders; and his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
A child will be born who will be called "Mighty God"? Jewish commentators did not dispute the Messianic nature of this prophecy until modern times. As proof, let me cite the paraphrase of this passage given in Targum Jonathan:
"And there was called His name from of old, Wonderful, counselor, Mighty God, He who lives for ever, the messiah in whose days peace shall increase." (Targum of Isaiah)
Granted, one shouldn't read something into the Biblical story that isn't there. However, it is just as dangerous to delete or ignore things that are there....
Question: The word echad, "one," is used in the Jewish Scriptures in either a compound or absolute sense. In what sense is echad used in the Shema, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One" (Deuteronomy 6:4)?
Jews for Judaism: In such verses as Genesis 1:5: "And there was evening and there was morning, one day," and Genesis 2:24: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh," the term echad, "one", refers to a compound united one. However, echad often also means an absolute one. This is illustrated by such verses as 2 Samuel 13:30: "Absolom has slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left"; 2 Samuel 17:12: "And of all the men that are with him we will not leave so much as one"; Exodus 9:7: "There did not die of the cattle of Israel even one"; 2 Samuel 17:22: "There lacked not one of them that was not gone over the Jordan"; Ecclesiastes 4:8: There is one [that is alone], and he has not a second; yea, he has neither son nor brother." Clearly, the word "one" used in these verses means an absolute one and is synonymous with the word yachid, "the only one," "alone." It is in this sense, with even greater refinement, that 'echad is used in Deuteronomy 6:4: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One." Here, echad is used as a single, absolute, unqualified one. There is no mention of a triune god.
The Netzarim Response:
Word games! If you will notice, in each of the given references, the verses are speaking of ONE of several/many; in other words, they are all part of a unit (i.e. one DOZEN eggs, or one BUNCH of grapes). They speak of "all the king's sons", "...ALL the men....", "...the CATTLE (not COW) of Israel....", "....not one of them....". In the case of Ecclesiastes 4:8, although it appears they are referring to just one, the context of the entire passage refers to a unit. If you will read further on down, you will see why the word echad was used: Ecc 4: - 9 TWO are better than one, in that their cooperative efforts yield this advantage: 10 if one of them falls, the other will help his partner up...."
When something is part of a unit, it is referred to as ECHAD. If it is simply ONE person, thing, or whatever, it is YACHID. Since God in the Shema refers to Himself as echad He must have had a REASON. But you guys already knew that...YHWH can't be tied to "one" anything; He is a complicated Entity we cannot know until the day we meet Him face-to-face.
Same with the word Elohim - which is the plural form of Eloha. YHWH never referred to Himself in a "singular" form....
You are correct in saying "there is no mention of a triune god". There is no actual mention of a "Trinity" in the Bible. However, the fact that YHWH DID reveal Himself to us in plural aspects shows that He IS an ECHAD in every sense of the word. He is, after all, GOD. He can present Himself to us in whatever form He desires (burning bush, a man who broke Jacob's thigh, etc.):
He has a Son:
Proverbs 30:4 - Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has cupped the wind in the palms of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son's name? Surely you know!
YHWH appeared to Abraham in the form of a man - actually THREE men:
Genesis 18:1-2;17 - 1 Adonai appeared to Avraham by the oaks of Mamre as he sat at the entrance to the tent during the heat of the day. 2 He raised his eyes and looked, and there in front of him stood three men. On seeing them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, prostrated himself on the ground....17 Adonai said, "Should I hide from Avraham what I am about to do....
YHWH has plural aspects:
Isaiah 48:12,16 - 12 "Listen to me Ya'akov; Israe'el whom I have called: I am he who is first; I am also the last."....16 "Come close to me and listen to this: since the beginning I have not spoken in secret, since the time things began to be, I have been there; and now Adonai Elohim has sent me and his Spirit."
Question: Doesn't it make sense to say that the Gospel of Luke gives Mary's genealogy, since it would be nonsense to go through Joseph's line if he is not the biological father of Jesus?
Jews for Judaism: It should be noted that the Gospel of Matthew sets the precedent for presenting a genealogy of Jesus that goes through Joseph. Incidentally, this genealogy goes through a line (Jehoiakim) that is disqualified for kingship. Therefore, it is not surprising that Luke's genealogical list also gives a genealogy (much different from that given by Matthew), which is supposedly that of Joseph.
The Gospel of Luke provides a variant tradition concerning Jesus' ancestry. In the literal Greek of its genealogical listing "Joseph of the Heli" (Luke 3:23) is just another way of saying "Joseph son of Heli."
Some Christian commentators have claimed that Luke gives Mary's genealogy. Accordingly, it is proposed that Heli is the father-in-law of Joseph, that is, Heli is the name of Mary's father. There is no genealogical record, in either the Jewish Bible or the New Testament, which refers to a man as the son of his father-in-law. There is no verse in the New Testament that says Mary is the daughter of Heli.
To presume that Mary was of Davidic descent presents the problem that Mary could not pass on what she did not possess: (1) Maternal connection does not enter into consideration for succession to the throne of David which is passed on only through a continuous male line: "There shall not be cut off from David a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel" (Jeremiah 33:17); (2) Biblically, the right of lineal privilege, that is, kingship and priesthood, are exclusively passed on through the male line. The incident regarding the inheritance of the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers, chapters 27 and 36) does not apply here since it concerns the transference of physical property and not privileges of lineage.
Considering Luke's genealogical list, neither Joseph nor Mary could claim an inheritance to the throne of David through Heli. Heli and his progeny would be disqualified in regard to the Davidic kingship if he were a descendant of Nathan. Of all the son's of David, God chose Solomon to sit on the throne of Israel (1 Chronicles 29:1, 1 Kings 2:24).
The Netzarim Response:
The careful Bible student is likely to conclude that Matthew and Luke present two different genealogies. Following through the genealogies, one will notice that there are some names which are common to both, but also, a great number of differences. Matthew begins at the patriarch Abraham, and works his way to Yeshua the Messiah. Luke begins at Yeshua, and works his way back to Adam. There are two genealogies, with two distinct purposes. Matthew, it appears reveals the genealogy of Joseph, and Luke, presents the genealogy of Mary.
Matthew, penning his gospel with the Jews in mind, sets out to establish Yeshua's qualifications to be the Messiah through Joseph's genealogy. Thus, beginning with Abraham, he maps the Lord's genealogy through David, and the kings which followed. He presents Jesus' royal lineage (through the males) through "...Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Yeshua..."
Luke, writes to the Gentiles with a view toward the humanity of Messiah. The concept of one being both God and man would seem strange and foreign to those accustomed to Greek and Roman gods. Thus, Luke begins at Yeshua, and follows the genealogy of Mary, passing through the patriarchs, ending with the very first man, Adam.
If Luke is tracing the genealogy of Mary, why does he cite Joseph's name? Today, it would be politically incorrect to map a woman's genealogy through her husband, however, in Luke's day, it was proper and correct. Luke follows Mary's genealogy, beginning with the name of Joseph, her husband, Heli's son-in-law (in legal terms, his son by marriage).
How can Yeshua have a genealogy without having a biological father? Very simply, in legal terms, Joseph was Yeshua's father (look at it as a step-son who has all the rights and privileges of an adopted son). Thus, the genealogy of Joseph was legally applied to Yeshua. See a more indepth response at Yeshua's qualifications.
There is no contradiction.
Question: Why didn't the Jewish authorities produce Jesus' corpse when the rumor spread that he had risen from the dead?
Jews for Judaism: The New Testament fixes public announcement of the supposed resurrection, not three days immediately following the crucifixion event, but after a period in which some of Jesus' followers regrouped following their initial shock and disappointment and formulated their future plans. Public announcement of a resurrection was set for the Jewish festival of Shavuot, "The Feast of Weeks," approximately fifty days following the crucifixion (Acts 2:1, 22-24). By that day, Jesus' corpse would have been sufficiently decomposed to prohibit positive identification.
In the post-Shavuot period, exhuming the corpse would have been a pointless endeavor. A mishnah states: "They must not give evidence [of identity in respect of a dead man] except on [proof afforded by] the full face with the nose, even though there were also marks on its body or on its clothing. No evidence [of a man's death] must be given before his soul has departed, even though they saw him with his arteries cut or crucified or being devoured by a wild beast. They must give evidence [of identification] only during the first three days [after the death. After this period the decay of the corpse makes identification impossible or uncertain.]. . ." (Mishnah Yevamot 16:3). The general rule followed was that of identification within three days. In contrast, almost two months after death, in the warm Judean climate, forensic identification of Jesus' corpse would no longer be possible (cf. John 11:39).
The Netzarim Response:
Here's a lesson from the Aramaic English New Testament:
Please see our short article at Explaining Yeshua.
Question: It seems logical to say that no one would be willing to suffer and even die for something they knew wasn't true. According to the New Testament, the disciples were persecuted for proclaiming that Jesus was resurrected. Therefore, isn't it logical to say that the New Testament information has to be true?
Jews for Judaism: The willingness of an individual to suffer and die for a particular cause or belief doesn't prove its truthfulness or validity. For example, the willingness of the leadership of the early Mormon church to undergo persecution and even death doesn't prove the veracity of the Mormon faith system. Likewise, the New Testament description of some of the disciples undergoing suffering or death does not prove that what they preached or believed was true either.
The Netzarim Response:
Our reply to that is simply that haSatan is an expert deceiver, and many have chosen to follow him - even unto death. To wit: Jim Jones, David Koresh, the Rev. Sun Yung Moon, Rael, etc. Like the old adage says: If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.
No one can dispute that SOMETHING happened in the lives of Yeshua's disciples resulting in the formation of a new "Jesus-movement" that has endured since His death 2,000 years ago. It is equally true that, in the minds of the disciples, something happened to Yeshua after his death which explains their remarkable and completely unexpected transformation, as they themselves were basically occasional doubters UNTIL THEY SAW AND SPOKE TO HIM AFTER HE DIED!
In Luke 24:50-53 and Acts 1:11, Luke records the historical fact and nature of Yeshua's ascension. The language seems to imply that He ascended bodily to some place in the space-time continuum, which we humans are unable to see or know. Theologically, however, Luke has made it very clear as to what the ascension means. It was not just Yeshua going somewhere. Indeed, his ascension led to his exaltation to the throne and his right to rule over creation, nations and the assemblies. He was exalted to the right hand of God (a place of power and authority) in keeping with Davidic hope (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34-35) and currently reigns over the universe (Eph 1:20-22a) and is head over all things pertaining to the "assemblies" (Eph 1:22b-23; 1 Peter 3:22).
As divine founder, leader, captain, and goal of the assemblies he has sent the Ruach haKodesh (Acts 2:33) to endow them with life, love and power and will someday return. He has received, and continues to receive, glory, praise, and honor in light of who he is and what he has done (Rev 5:12). Every knee should and WILL bow before God's Messiah (Phil 2:9)! The Bible predicts that someday Messiah Yeshua will return, suddenly, bodily and with great glory for all to see (Matt 24:30; Rev 19:11). At that time he will judge Satan and his angels, the living and the dead, and will establish his kingdom in its fullest sense.
This was the long way around of explaining that Yeshua fulfilled hundreds of Old Covenant prophecies and the disciples FULLY realized that once they physically SAW and TOUCHED Him after His crucifixion. Unlike others who have been deceived by Satan and his ilk, and who have died for naught, the DISCIPLES KNEW BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT that they faced certain death for their convictions. They knew, and they upheld THE TRUTH - even unto death!