There are many Jews who have come to know their Messiah. There are many Orthodox and Protestant Christians who have also come to know the Savior. Certainly there are many Catholics who have accepted Christ as their Savior as well. One can come to know the Savior from any background, tribe, language, or people group.
In the Old Testament period who persecuted and even sometimes killed the prophets? Wasn't it often the official priesthood, aided and abeted by false prophets? They saw these men as moving in on their turf, the real prophets of God were threats to their religious authority. It is interesting that most of the Old Testament prophets came from outside of the rabbinical and levitical priesthoods. Yet we know from the Bible that it was the prophets who were actually doing God's will, not the official priests with their ornate robes, golden implements, and large religious symbols.
When Jesus came didn't He ignore the contemporary rabbis and Pharisees when He was choosing His disciples? Instead He opted for twelve ordinary men. And later we see the Sanhedrin, the official religious leaders, standing together against Jesus. Jesus did sometimes teach in synagogues and in the Temple, but He went around their believed authority. And He chose 12 average, teachable men. Just as in Old Testament times, God pretty much ignored the official priesthood in order to find men whom He could use for His purposes. And thus the church was born.
But then once again officialdom crept in. And we see during the 2,000 years of Christianity the same general pattern. Those with the ornate robes, golden implements, and large religious symbols persecuted the real ambassadors from God down through the years. Jews vividly remember this history of Christians persecuting Jews. But we often forget to make the connection between these types of men who like holding their religious authority over others (both in Old Testament and then in New Testament times), no matter what God wants. And they end up becoming enemies of God! Not His representatives, but rather the men who persecute God's representatives. Jews are not the only ones whom they've persecuted down through the centuries. The official priests have a history of burning honorable men who espoused the Bible, i.e. God's Word as supreme, at the stake.
There was John the Baptist in his rough clothing, out in the wilderness. When the official priests came out to see him how did John refer to them? Matthew 3:7b "O generation of vipers..." Vipers, i.e. children of the serpent!
And look at what Jesus says to those who think that the church has replaced Israel, becoming "spiritual Jews" or in some way that they claim to be Jews when they are not, in these two verses in Christ's Letters to the Seven Churches: Revelation 2:9b "... and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan." And Revelation 3:9a "Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie..."
The Gentile believers were grafted in, Romans 11:17-21. The church itself is a temporary construct. And many who strut around in priestly robes do not truly represent the Lord of Heaven. They are from a different church (synagogue) leading the sheep in the wrong direction.
Of course, every human institution is temporary. Even the nations are but a drop in the bucket. Isaiah 40:15 "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing."
Churches too are temporary. Some may last for multiple generations, but it is souls that the Lord is interested in, not the temporary religious institutions around them. Most of the Old Testament prophets came from outside of the official priesthoods. In Jesus' day, as pointed out above, He chose not a single seminary-trained rabbi to be among His twelve apostles. And now in the New Testament period, so many of God's men and women have come from outside of the official priesthoods.
Idolatry is a serious sin. The Ten Commandments deals clearly with not making idols to worship and to pray to. Yet some persons have still done this down through time. Whether the graven image shows God the Father, God the Son, or Mary, or Saint Nicholas, we should not be praying to them. Anyone who encourages this encourages false religion and idolatry.
We should not pray to Mary. Here is what Jesus said: Luke 11:27-28 "And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare you (i.e. Mary, His Mother), and the breast which you have sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it."
Ask the priest where in the Bible it says to pray to Mary, Peter, Paul, or to any of the other saints?
Here is how Paul and Barnabas reacted when men tried to pray to them: Acts 14:12-15 "And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do all of you these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that all of you should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein."
See, Saint Paul told them to pray to God, not to men, like themselves.
Paul said: "...We also are men of like passions with you..."
We should turn and pray to: "...you should turn from these vanities unto the living God..."
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is most certainly NOT to pray to little idols, whether pagan or supposedly-Christian, or otherwise.
Jesus specifically taught us to pray to: (Matthew 6:9b) "Our Father which art in heaven, ..."
Always pray to our Heavenly Father. Do not pray to Jesus. Do not pray to the Holy Spirit. Do not pray to "saints." Do not pray to a giant turtle, or to the Sun, or to a pantheistic Consciousness, Mother Gaia, or to Moses, or Elijah, or Isaiah, or to anyone else!
The First Commandment: (Exodus 20:3) "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Pray to our Heavenly Father, the God of the Bible. Put no one before Him.
And then Number Two: (Exodus 20:4-5a) "You shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them..."
So don't pray to saints; this is unbiblical! Do not make and pray to little statues (graven images), that is wrong.
2,000 years ago many of the Jews trusted their religious traditions over the Word of God. And thus they failed to see the Messiah that they'd been waiting for. And yet don't many of us make the exact same mistake today? How many Christians trust their church traditions over what the Word of God teaches? The Holy Bible is our authority, not the teachings of men in ornate robes when they openly contradict the Scriptures.
Some churches contend that priests should remain celibate. But we know that Peter, whom they contend was "the first pope" was actually married: Matthew 8:14 "And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever." If Peter was a married man, and God could use him, why should there be undue restrictions upon others?
Well, couldn't one pray to St. Peter and ask him about this? But Peter was a man of like passions, just like us. No, always pray to the Father. The God of the Bible is never too busy to hear you. Throughout Scripture God affirms that He hears prayers made to Him. Never does it say that He has to delegate in receiving some of the prayers, some kind of a busy switchboard or otherwise.
To repeat this again, it is the Bible that is our guide book, not the
traditions of men. Religious traditions can lead us astray.
Many times Jesus answered the Pharisees with direct Bible quotes, starting
with, "For it is written..." or with "Have you not read...?"
He quoted the Scriptures with authority, showing that their upheld traditions
contracted a clear reading of the Word of God. Side with Jesus and
the Bible, not with false religious traditions.