FAQ 9: What about Jewish People and Jesus?

Another great post from Jimmy Carnes


Why don’t Jewish people believe Jesus is the Son of God?  That he is just at prophet?  What evidence do they look at to support this?

One of the biggest reasons that Jewish people rejected Jesus over 2000 years ago as the promised Messiah is that they were expecting someone else.  Psalm 2, 72, and 110 describe the Messiah as one who would come to bring prosperity and peace to Jerusalem, shatter kings, execute judgment, and destroy all who oppose him.  The last lines of the book of Amos say, “’I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.  I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,’ says the LORD your God” (Amos 9:14-15).  The prophet Daniel says, “and to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Dan 7:13).

Since the establishment of God’s people through Abraham, the people of Israel were given many promises.  Deuteronomy 7:6-8 says that God chose the nation of Israel to be his treasured possession out of all people on the earth and that this was because of the oath that He swore to Abraham.  The nation was to be blessed and given the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession (Gen 17:8).  These promises to Abraham and his descendants (what we call the old covenant) were contingent on the people “keeping the way of the Lord” (Gen 18:19).

Because of this contingency, the Jewish nation was no stranger to affliction.  Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah describe Israel’s history and explain how the nation either thrived or faced calamity based on how well it’s kings and leaders directed the people to follow the law of God.  At the peak of Israel’s prosperity, God promised King David that his kingdom would be established forever (2 Sam 7:11).   When the nation was exiled to Babylon, they held on to God’s promises and several prophets spoke of a coming Messiah that would restore Israel to the Promised Land and establish an eternal Davidic reign.

The Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild during the reign of King Cyrus, but they were not free of rule.  When Jesus came on the scene, the Jews were under Roman rule and still looking for a king that would destroy their enemies and establish Israel’s dominance.  The book of John shows that many of the Jews believed that Jesus could be this King when He fed the 5000.  It says, “perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him King, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself” (John 6:15).  When Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified, failing to liberate the Jews and bring peace, the same Jews that were shouting Hosanna and throwing palm branches down as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey lost hope that He was the Messiah they had hoped for.

Beyond this, Jews today claim that Jesus didn’t meet other messianic requirements.  According to a collection of Jewish oral customs and commentaries (called the Talmud) some Jews believe that the Messiah was never supposed to be divine.  Jesus’ claims to forgive sins and be the Son of God were precisely what sent Him to the cross.  It’s also fairly clear that the Jewish expectation of a Messiah involved things being changed on earth.  Ezekiel 37:24-28 lays out a pretty comprehensive view of what the Jews were expecting.  A king from the Davidic line was to gather the Jews to the Promised Land where God would establish an everlasting covenant of peace.  The temple would be rebuilt and they would all keep God’s law, showing the nations that God is the one who sanctifies Israel.  Jesus’ followers did not keep the Jewish traditions, the temple was destroyed, and war and oppression continued, not peace and prosperity.

Though Jews and Christians share the text of the Old Testament (the Written Torah), Christians view these scriptures in light of the New Testament and an eternal spiritual reality.  We believe that the Old Testament is only half the story, and that the New Testament provides a more complete view of who God is and His plan for our lives.  There are a multitude of Old Testament scriptures that describe a new covenant, God including the Gentiles into His salvation plan, and a man who would correctly interpret the Torah, not to mention hundreds of other prophesies that Christians recognize as being fulfilled by Jesus, but that is enough to fill a whole other blog post!  For this blog, we must rest in the idea that the Jewish understanding of God’s word is not affected by a New Testament worldview, and it is difficult for Christians to check that worldview at the door when reading particular passages in the Old Testament.  This results in a strong difference of opinion when the two groups seek to understand the same verses.  Ultimately, we believe that Jesus came to establish the way of redemption that will be fully realized when He returns; the Jews are still waiting for their savior.

References and further study







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