Top scientist James Tour is described as a genius inventor who started 78 companies and spoke at every major university in the United States.
“But more than any of that,” he says, “what means the most to me is that I’m a Jew who believes Jesus is the Messiah.”
James (pictured above) grew up just outside New York City, but Judaism didn’t 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”.
“I started to realise how Jewish the New Testament is,” said James. “It’s all around Jewish people. Then, on November 7th 1977, I was all alone in my room. I realised 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. 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 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.”
James’ story can be viewed on YouTube, courtesy of One for Israel in partnership with Chosen People Ministries.