Torah Club is excited to announce that our study for the next Torah cycle will be Jesus, My Rabbi. This new study will be an exploration of the Gospels from a Jewish perspective.
The content of Jesus, My Rabbi will be based on material from our popular commentary set, Chronicles of the Messiah. In our third article in this series, David Vermeesch is our guest. David is on the strategic development team for First Fruits of Zion.
Torah Club Staff: David, how does Jesus, My Rabbi fit into the larger development mission of FFOZ to build the kingdom?
David: The kingdom is about hope and a bright future. Torah Club is our flagship for this idea. I’m anticipating that Jesus, My Rabbi may be the most sharable Torah Club study experience that we’ve ever offered. With its focus on the Gospels, it is both approachable and rich with depth. Because of this, I expect that it may find new regions and new audiences and emerge as the right focus at the right time for a lot of people.
Many followers of Jesus consider themselves serious students of the Bible. But many would also admit they have nagging doctrinal, relational, and theological questions that go unanswered in their other Bible studies. We know these questions find their best answers through the lens of a Jewish Jesus in a first-century, historical context.
Part of my role in helping to guide our strategic growth initiatives means that I need to hold both the ten-year and the ten-day perspectives in view at the same time. I love that the words embedded in our name, “First Fruits,” implies both now and future. It’s proleptic, right!? It’s a metaphor that doesn’t tire easily. Every day it reminds us that our work now is just the beginning of a larger future work. I expect Jesus, My Rabbi may strike a nerve of longing for believers who wonder if our world and our era are on the cusp of something important.
Torah Club Staff: Jesus, My Rabbi is going to be unique in that it is going to be the Torah Club study track for two years instead of one. What is the strategy behind this?
David: Three reasons. First, we concluded that there’s so much solid study content within the Chronicles of the Messiah commentary, it would be almost a disservice to leave so much out. Second, and this the operational perspective, it’s a lot of strain on our team and resources to pivot to a new study track startup, especially as so many elements of the Torah Club operation are still new and emerging. Third, we felt it would create some breathing room of opportunity next year at this time to redirect our creative and support team resources from “new study track startup” efforts toward the support, growth, and promotion of our existing and new clubs.
Torah Club Staff: How do you think Jesus, My Rabbi can help people considering current global tensions?
David: More than ever, people are looking for glimmers of hope. Everybody wants some good news. On the one hand, people desire comfort and familiarity in times of distress. It’s the reason Starbucks’ global business has hardly missed a beat during COVID. On the other hand, times of crisis create strategic opportunities for people to consider new perspectives as their comfortable ideas buckle under the strain of pressure.
People without faith are looking for anything solid and substantive. People with faith know that hard times will be a part of the deal, but believers themselves are also looking for guidance that offers more biblical clarity and a brighter future. The kingdom has all this, and their Rabbi Jesus has a thing or two to say about it.
Torah Club Staff: What do you hope some outcomes of the Jesus, My Rabbi study will be?
David: There was a point early last year when Torah Club may have been the fastest-growing independent Bible study in the world. At some point, the first fruits become a real harvest. Eventually, the mustard seed starts to look like a tree. In our lifetimes? Only by God’s grace. At very least, the simple idea of Christians embracing Jesus as “My Rabbi” works toward the dismantling of false contradiction. My big hope is that Jesus, My Rabbi can provide a strategic point of entry where we can begin to nudge some key indicators that signal a wider, global, mainstream Christian and Jewish normalization of the Jewish Jesus.