Why do most Jews not believe Christ is the promised Messiah?
There are many popular views as to why the Jewish people do not believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah. It is true that Jews have been hated and persecuted by some who are Christians in name only and by many non-Christians. Typically, Jews view Jesus Christ as the founder of Christianity and not as a Jew who was also God. Jews are offended that some individuals accuse them of killing Christ. They claim that is not true. Jewish rabbis have changed the interpretation of some prophecies in the Tanakh which Christians call the Old Testament. The article “Are there historical facts that reveal Christ is the Messiah?” presents some serious facts that support the truth that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. But the question this article answers is “Why do most Jews not believe Christ is the promised Messiah?”
Jesus Christ Is A Stumbling Stone
Scripture teaches us that the Jewish people are God’s Chosen People (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Isaiah 43:10; Hebrews 8:8-13). The apostle Paul was a Jew and he wrote the following about Israel,
For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. Romans 9:3-5 (NASB)
The apostle reminds us that God had chosen Israel to be His spokesmen. They were given the covenants, Law, promises and the Messiah would be Jew. He was the Christ. In John 4:25 Jesus said that He was the Christ and the gospel of Matthew declared that Jesus was and is the Messiah.
The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah . . . Matthew 1:1 (NASB)
Yet when Christ arrived, the Jewish people rejected Him. John 1:11 states,
He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. John 1:11 (NASB)
Later the apostle Paul wrote that Jesus Christ was a stumbling stone or stumbling block to the Jewish people.
. . . but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” Romans 9:31-33
Why was Jesus a stumbling stone? Even though Israel knew the prophecies about the Messiah (Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 9:6; Zechariah 12:8-10), they still missed Him. They expected a military messiah who would defeat the Romans and establish a worldwide government. The prophets repeatedly promised a future king and kingdom for Israel, but they also spoke of a king who would die for their sins. For example, Isaiah 53 prophesied of One who would die for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-9). Zechariah 12 describes the tribulation that will occur just before the Second Coming of Christ.
Then beginning in Zechariah 12:8-10, the Messiah is described as coming to defend Israel and defeat its enemies. But we must not miss Zechariah 12:10 which describes Him as the One whom Israel pierced—Israel pierced their Messiah.
I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. Zechariah 12:10 (NASB)
Zechariah 14:1-8 continues the description of the Messiah’s victory over Israel’s enemies and verses 8-21 describe the kingdom that Israel expected. The prophet provides an outline of what the Messiah would accomplish. He would die for the sins of the world and later defeat the nations of the world and then reign as King over the world.
While the Jewish rabbis historically believed that Micah 5:1-2 referred to the coming Messiah, modern day Judaism rejects this idea since it is obvious that Jesus was born in Bethlehem Ephrathah.
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.
Micah 5:2 (NASB)
The Jewish Study Bible states the following about Micah 5:1-2,
“The reference is to David, from Bethlehem in Judah . . . Traditional Jewish interpretations of this v. tend to focus on . . . the hardship of Israel prior to the coming of the Messiah. See the following text: “Rab. said: The son of David will not come until the [Roman] power enfolds Israel, for nine months, as it is written . . .”
The understanding of traditional Judaism changed after Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. Why did this happen? The prophet prophesied that this would happen in Isaiah 28:16 as revealed by Romans 9:32-33 (see the verse above), and 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 echoes this truth.
For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness . . . 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 (NASB)
The prophet Isaiah stated that Israel was a rebellious people who walked in a way that was not good and followed their own thoughts.
I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me;
I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me.
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’
To a nation which did not call on My name.
I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts . . . Isaiah 65:1-2 (NASB)
The prophet described why they refused to believe their own prophets about the coming of their Messiah.
Israel Is Blind
Consequently, Israel hardened their hearts against their own Messiah. Christ tells us that is the reason the Roman army would invade and defeat Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44.) The further act of judgment is described in Romans 11:25-26.
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery — so that you will not be wise in your own estimation — that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
“THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB. THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.” Romans 11:25-27 (NASB)
The capitalized letters in the NASB refer to an Old Testament prophecy. It is a paraphrase of Isaiah 59:20-21. Israel is partially hardened today due to their rejection of Christ. Paradoxically, it had to happen so that they would kill Jesus Christ. As a result, He became our Savior from our sins. He is also the future King who will rule the world.
The death of Christ is a stumbling block to our Jewish friends. Later the apostle Paul wrote these passionate words,
” . . . that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.” Romans 9:1-2 (NASB)
He grieved that Israel is not enjoying the understanding and glories of their Messiah. Our Jewish friends are not to be condemned but loved. Their are God’s Chosen People (Isaiah 43:20). Moses wrote these words,
For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers . . . Deuteronomy 7:6-8 (NASB)
Therefore, we must do as the apostle Paul did and pray for the salvation of Israel. He said,
Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. Romans 10:1 (NASB)
1. A. Berlin and M. Brettler. Tanakh. The Jewish Study Bible. Oxford University Press. 1999. p. 1213.
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Are there historical facts that reveal Christ is the Messiah?