Dr. Michael Brown is a rock star of the Christian Church as far as I’m concerned. His clear and concise explanations of biblical teachings are among the best you’ll find anywhere, and his rebuttal to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire nonsense is so effective, it basically ends the discussion for anyone who hears it.
(There’s one issue where I don’t think Dr. Brown and I agree, but we’ll deal with that on another day.)
One of the best things about Dr. Brown is that he always disagrees with you respectfully and lovingly, even people like Rob Bell and Matthew Vines, who really test the Christian ethic of love and charity toward all. Dr. Brown’s kind spirit never wavers.
But boy was he ever tested here:
The scene is Jerusalem’s Ben Judah Market, and Dr. Brown is being surrounded and assailed by locals who don’t appreciate the fact that he’s proclaiming Jesus as the Christ while also identifying as a Jew. (He refers to Jesus here as “Yeshua,” which is the more common Jewish usage.)
It got worse. Eventually Dr. Brown was hauled off to jail:
Eventually, after the main agitator kept harassing us, I decided the last thing he would do was drive us away. So as long as he yelled, I stayed and shared my faith.
But he had called the police, claiming (falsely) I was breaking the law. And then, when he pushed his phone right up to my face (literally) and I pushed it away, he started shouting that I attacked him. Seriously!
Finally, two policewomen arrived and because of his accusations, we had to go to the local police station. The whole process took about four or five hours, with the great majority of the time spent sitting without a phone, doing nothing. (Of course, I was praying silently and thanking God for this special day. I also prayed for my accuser, who sat across from me the whole time.)
The big problem for me was that I’m fluent in biblical Hebrew but weak in modern Hebrew, so I missed a lot of what my accuser was saying and was concerned I couldn’t explain things clearly to the police officers.
Finally, an interrogator arrived, spending about 20-30 minutes with my accuser, then interviewing me. By this time, we had this same video up on YouTube, so he could get a feel for what was happening. And he fully understood I had done nothing wrong or illegal.
When I walked out of the police station, I was greeted by three more ultra-Orthodox Jews. And one wished me success in an upcoming speech in support of Israel.
Then he asked me, “Are you a missionary?”
In the Jewish world, especially Israel, this has very bad connotations. But since I had made clear to him that I was a public, unashamed believer in Jesus and that I share my faith with my people, I answered in the affirmative.
To my delightful surprise he said, “That’s OK. Missionaries are good!”
A few minutes later, with a smile and without any paperwork to take with me, he told me I could go.
And he maintained a Christ-like countenance throughout this entire affair, although I’m sure he was tempted to do otherwise.
There’s not much to learn doctrinally from this situation. There have long been Messianic Jews among us, and thank the Lord for that, and Dr. Brown has been completely open and extremely outspoken about the fact that he a) accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior; and b) considers himself fully Jewish and in no way renounces his Jewish identity or the customs associated with it.
But I do think it’s instructive to see the dynamic going on here. What the locals are upset about is not so much the proclamation of Christ – lots of Christians show up in Jerusalem and proclaim Christ – but about Dr. Brown’s insistence on fully embracing his Judaism while also proclaiming Christ. They’re giving him a hard time about things like his wearing (or not wearing as the case may be) of traditional Jewish dress, and where he’s standing and whether he’s breaking any laws by being there.
Through it all, Dr. Brown is cool and confident, and he doesn’t back down.
If you know his back story, by the way, you know that Dr. Brown descended in his youth into the whole counterculture drug scene before being delivered from it by the power of Christ. He didn’t become a Christian as a way of rejecting his Jewish roots, because he never has rejected them. He became a Christian because he realized that only under the authority of Christ could he be delivered from the darkness of the world.
I suspect that it’s precisely because he’s experience how real that power is that he’s not afraid to stand in Ben Judah Market and speak the truth. Nothing going on there is comparable to the authority in which Dr. Brown walks. Well done, sir.
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