It was on this day in the year 1216 that, by order of Pope Innocent III, a special badge was to be worn by all Jews in Europe. This was the first time that this edict had been handed down in the Middle Ages, but it wasn’t a new thing. It was something used by the Persians in the third century to identify, not Jews, but Christians. Later in the ninth century, the Persians also ordered the Jews to wear a special yellow badge. The badge enforced by Pope Innocent was worn for almost 500 years, but had largely disappeared around the end of the 18th century. It reappeared in Europe, in 1939, under the Nazi regime. During that time, as in former times, it was a seal intended to identify and shame the Jews and, under the Nazis, mark them for the death camps.
Considering the motive of the oppressors, it would seem that this yellow badge was to identify those who otherwise might be tempted to conceal their true identity. That is important to consider for this reason: God’s people are supposed to be sealed. Scripture says that, in being born again, we are sealed, not with yellow stars or special badges, but with the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit serves as a marker until the time of redemption. In the meantime, we are to be identified by other means, mainly our deeds: what we do and how we treat one another. Jesus said that if we love Him, we would obey His commandments and would abide in His Word. Then He said:
“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:8)
Abiding in His Word and being faithful to His instructions is how we produce and bear fruit. When we bear much fruit, the Father is glorified and we are identified as His disciples.
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
These are the “badges” that identify us: obedience to our Father in heaven and treating one another with love and respect. That is how everyone knows who we are to whom we belong. That definition sounds very similar to Messiah’s explanation of what the greatest commandments are.
“Yeshua said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
When the world looks upon us to identify us, they should not have to look for a yellow star. No one should have to look for a blue fringe on a prayer shawl to identify who we are and who we belong to. It should be evident by what we do, how we behave and how we treat one another. Do we have love for one another? How we treat our brother is a reflection of our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
The question for today is, how do people perceive us when they observe us? Do they see someone who is self-righteousness and arrogant? Do they see us caring for one another, loving one another and being patient with one another? If we are in Messiah the world needs to see the “badge” that identifies us as His: Love God and love your neighbor.