What happened when Jesus entered the room of Jewish science student?

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By Charles Gardner —

James Tour

Top scientist James Tour is described as a genius inventor who has started 78 companies and spoken at every major university in the United States.

James grew up just outside New York City, but Judaism didn’t particularly excite him. He once tried to talk to a rabbi, but was brushed aside with very little explanation.

Then he went to college where he met a number of ‘born-again Christians’. He thought it an odd term and questioned what it meant.

One fellow student drew a picture of a man on a cliff edge with God on the other side of a great chasm, trying to explain how Jesus’ death crosses – or bridges – the gap created by our sin because he bore their weight, and we just have to trust in his sacrifice for us.

But James protested: “I’m not a sinner. I never killed anyone or robbed a bank,” adding that the modern Judaism of which he was familiar never really discussed sin.

His friend countered by showing him a verse from the New Testament: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

Then came the knockout punch. His friend pointed to Jesus’ teaching on adultery: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27f)

“Pow! I felt as though I had been punched in the chest,” James explained. “I had become addicted to pornography and I didn’t think anybody knew. Now someone who lived 2,000 years ago is calling me out on it. I felt immediately convicted and I knew I was a sinner.”

He also saw how Christ’s sacrificial death had been precisely predicted by Isaiah some 700 years before it happened. For he read in Isaiah chapter 53 how the Messiah would take our sins upon himself – “the perfect God comes and gives himself for us” – adding: “We Jews know better than anyone else that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

“I started to realize how Jewish the New Testament is. It’s all around Jewish people. Then, on November 7th 1977, I was all alone in my room. I realized Yeshua was the one who died on the cross. I said, ‘Lord, I am a sinner. Please forgive me.’

“All of a sudden Jesus Christ entered my room. Yes, Jesus was in my room. I started weeping, his presence was so glorious and this amazing sense of forgiveness started to come upon me.”

His cousins were shocked at his decision and his mother was not happy either. She didn’t blame the religious leaders for killing Jesus; he got what he deserved for calling them ‘whitewashed tombs’, in her view.

But then she read the Tanach (Old Testament) from beginning to end, and told her son: “God warned us over and over again.”

Later, through the influence of James’ 15-year-old daughter, she started reading the Bible again and, one day, aged 72, she rang her son to say: “Jimmy, it hit me; the way he gave his life. I believe it now. Jesus is the Son of God.”

Tour is a professor of chemistry, professor of materials science and nanoengineering, and professor of Computer Science at Rice University. He was named “Scientist of the Year” by R&D Magazine in 2013 and won the ACS Nano Lectureship Award from the American Chemical Society in 2012. He was ranked one of the top 10 chemists in the world over the past decade by Thomson Reuters in 2009.

More than any of his accomplishments, Tour says, “what means the most to me is that I’m a Jew who believes Jesus is the Messiah.”

 

James’ story can be viewed on YouTube, courtesy of One for Israel in partnership with Chosen People Ministries.

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