Where is the balance between grace and works?
There is no balance between the two. Torah Judaism teaches that ultimately our spiritual inheritance is acquired through our Father’s grace alone. This idea is present throughout Jewish thought. One brief example is found during our morning devotions (Shacharit). We pray to our merciful creator; “May You overstep with us the line of your law and deal with us—O HaShem, our G-d—instead with your mercy and kindness.” In Jewish thought, good works are an act of covenant fidelity and not merely a means by which to earn a reward.
If Judaism truly teaches that forgiveness and cleansing from sin is ultimately found through G-d’s mercy alone, who were the opponents with whom both the Messiah and Paul argued?
Readers of the apostolic writings often come away from the text with an inaccurate impression of the Jewish world, both ancient and modern. The generation that witnessed the burning of Jerusalem was fractured and uncertain. Even as Roman armies surrounded the Holy City its inhabitance were feuding; very few escaped. Those who did traveled to the North of Israel. Humble and broken, they were seeking to save what remained of the Jewish people and faith. Jewish tradition relates that the Word of G-d came to that small group of students audibly.
The voice from heaven revealed that G-d’s heart was for Israel to follow the way of Hillel the Elder, the Grandfather and teacher of Gamliel who saved the lives of Peter and John (Acts 5), whose students learned from Yeshua in the night, “for G-d so loved the world”(John. 3:1-21), and raced to prepare the Mashiach’s body for burial after His death.
Yeshua challenged the views of many in His generation and Paul battled against those teaching salvation through circumcision (the Jews with whom Paul argued were messianic like himself). Nevertheless, the bulk of these groups did not survive beyond the destruction of the second temple. Modern Jewish tradition (in all its diversity) descends from a school of thought friendly to the teachings of Yeshua and His students.
If this is the case, why then do so many Jews feel negatively towards Yeshua’s followers?
Jewish opposition to both Yeshua and His followers largely stems from Christian anti-Semitism. Countless acts of hatred, pogroms, expulsions, and massacres have been perpetrated in the name of Christianity and its “good news.” Modern Jewish feelings towards Yeshua, Messianic Judaism, and Christianity have little to do with theology and much to do with history and emotion.