Why don't Jewish people accept Jesus as the Messiah?

This is kind of disturbing Since Jews are God’s chosen people. I was listening to Ben Shapiro talk about this and he claims the old testament passages that point to Christ as the Messiah have been misread, and he said he doesn’t believe in the afterlife the way Christians understand it, the resurrection of the body and eternity in heaven. I guess I’ve really never understood exactly what they believe and why…

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Hi Jennifer,

Here are some good news, I’m Jewish and I believe in Jesus.

I love Ben Shapiro and his defense of conservative values, however I disagree with him on messianic matters. Biblical passages that point to the Messiah in the Old Testament have been misinterpreted even by Jesus’ Jewish disciples.

“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mark 8:31-33)

There appears to have been a misconception around Jesus’ time that Messiah was to be the figure that was going to break the yoke of the Romans from the necks of the Jews and rule from Jerusalem. Since there are passages that point to a reigning Messianic King, a strong victorious figure, alongside a Messiah as a suffering servant it served as a topic of debate between sages, and sprouted many theories.

As for matters of the afterlife and resurrection of the dead, even in the time of the 2nd Temple there was dispute between different Jewish factions, the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Paul even used it to his advantage to blow up his trial.

“Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.” (Acts 23:6-7)

The Talmud is full of examples of debate over Jewish halachic law, and it is said that where 2 Jews have gathered, you’ll hear 3 opinions.

It is important to dissect the objections that he puts forth one by one, as sound arguments have already been made for each of them.

There is also a spiritual reason to Jewish disbelief that we can find in the book of Romans 11:8, "As the Scriptures say, “God has put them into a deep sleep. To this day he has shut their eyes so they do not see, and closed their ears so they do not hear.” However, there is hope, as in the same chapter, Paul writes: “but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say…” (v. 25-26)

I’m only just scratching the surface on this topic. A great resource is Michael Brown’s series of books “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus”.

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Hi Jennifer,

I was widowed in 2007. I had prayed for years for my Jewish husband to be curious and ask me questions about Jesus. It was when I asked him a question about a difficult biblical passage, that he became interested and then asked me questions. We followed Jesus together for decades and attended Messianic events.

During that time my father-in-law, Pa, surprised me by asking pointedly, "Who killed Jesus?
I held my breath and stared at him. “I did.” I whispered.
I was blessed to see his parents became believers and worship our messiah Jesus.

I’m now remarried to the grandson of a rabbi, Both his parents accepted Jesus as Messiah because a believer heard their pain and answered their questions. And all of their descendants are believers.

God is drawing our Jewish brothers and sisters to Himself continually.

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Hi, Jennifer. Another book that you might find helpful is:

Refuting Rabbinic Objections to Christianity & Messianic Prophecies, by Eitan Bar

He shows some of the changes/omissions to Scripture that the rabbis have made in the last thousand years or so, which are aimed at trying to prevent Jews from coming to Jesus. So you get to see how that many religious Jews have been kept in the dark by their leaders, for centuries, as well as the resolution of those distortions.

It might be a good choice sometime for the book reading/discussion forum here.

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We have some good contributions above. Yet the main question has not been specifically answered.

The Jewish objection to Jesus boils down to one point: rejecting Jesus as the Son of God.

By this phrase, Jesus claimed to be God and in Jewish eyes that made Jesus equal with God.

You can see this in the Gospels and especially in John. The ancient Jewish objection to Jesus also solidified around Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God.

The Jewish objection to Jesus has not changed down through the years, but this does not mean that the objection is correct. Nor has it become an impasse. Countless Jewish people have committed themselves to Jesus in the two millennia past—all who have done so have accepted Jesus as the Son of God. Many, many more will accept Jesus as God’s Son, Messiah, Lord & Savior.

I happen to think that Jewish people were and are correct to challenge this matter. This is because, if a Jewish person considers carefully the biblical (OT) material regarding the Messiah & the passages that help interpret Jesus’ life & ministry, they may decide to acknowledge Jesus as their Lord & Savior as countless other Jews have done. Jesus can and will satisfy serious inquiries into His claims.

With respect to Jewish evangelism, Christians should become familiar with the OT, have understanding of the pattern and sentiment of the Jewish use of the OT, and especially be aware of Paul’s discussion of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith which begins with the faith of Abraham.

I really wish we had a written version of Jesus’ discussion on the road to Emmaus, when he covered all that Moses & the Prophets said about how the Messiah must die & be raised again. But we can learn how to do this ourselves if we study the OT (and the NT). This would be great for Christians to understand and for Jews to be challenged to faith in Jesus.

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Yes, Mark, i agree that the primary issue with many Jews is the idea of Yeshua/Jesus being the “Son of God”. The author of the book i mentioned above (“Refuting Rabbinic Objections to Christianity & Messianic Prophecies”) has some of the book material available on-line.

Part of his answer to this objection relates to explaining the term “Son of God”, which is available at:

And the virgin birth of Messiah aspect is well covered at:

Both are very well done, and may be very useful in discussions with Jewish people. I’m still studying it.

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@Riverstone,
This is a little late but a similar question was ask awhile back. This was my response. I think that it will fill in some of the blanks but by no means is it definitive. My personal reading has shown me that Judaism it not cut and dried,

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Ya I listen to Shapiro a lot too. He’s a perfect example of how conversion to Christ is not purely an intellectual question.

I sympathize a bit with his traditional view that Messiah would be a political leader/conqueror/restorer of the Jews, (which is exactly what he is… later…,) because the disciples of Jesus’ day (and John the Baptist you could say too) seemed to have a similar expectation. It’s too bad though, because that means the correction of that incomplete view has already been narrated, in the NT no less…

“When Messiah comes, I’ll just have one question for him…‘Have you been here before?’”. -Dennis Prager

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Daniel, regarding:

“When Messiah comes, I’ll just have one question for him…‘Have you been here before?’”. -Dennis Prager

I wonder if He might say in loving response, “I tried to tell you that before, but you didn’t want to listen.”

A large part of it has to do with the fact that ancient Jewish people didn’t accept Jesus and that was because of a false image the people had of the Messiah. They expected him to be a warrior and bring justice to those above them at the time (the Romans).
I remember reading this historical novel, and when one the rebels hears of Jesus he goes “we need to get this man on a horse and in front of an army.”
They expected the Messiah to bring Earthly changes, establish an Earthly kingdom, and overthrow their Earthly enemies.

Like the rich young man who saw Jesus as a good teacher, but not as God, the Pharisees weren’t very spiritual in their view of who Jesus was.

Also, many Jewish people see Jesus as someone who came to overthrow the law and make himself a replacement to it. But Jesus says in the book of Matthew that he came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it.

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Thank you all for shedding more light on this subject!

Hi Jennifer. I’m a latecomer to your question also. I have read the other’s informed reasons for why the Jews don’t accept Jesus. To me, however, these reasons that have been put forth are really excuses of the Jewish people. That might seem a harsh statement, but take a look at Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin in Acts 7. I think Stephen really puts his finger on the problem in verses 51-53. Stephen quoted Ex. 32:9 where God called the Hebrews “stiff-necked people”. Stephen accused the Jews of resisting the Holy Spirit, thereby killing the prophets who predicted the coming of the “Righteous One”.
Is. 6:10; Jeremiah 5:21; and Ez.12: 2 point to the rebellious hearts of the Jews, resulting in ears that can’t hear and eye’s that don’t see… The reasons, excuses, whatever you want to point to are all symptoms of the root cause = their rebellious nature. There will be a day when that will all change. And I praise God for those who have had their eyes opened. I have a dear friend who is one. But I would point to rebellion against God as the root cause that has led them to reject the Christ. Of course, all sin is rebellion against God, but rejection of Christ is the ultimate rebellion.

Hello, all! This is an interesting question, @Riverstone, and I thank you for bringing it to us. But I would warn us all against oversimplification. I think we can ask and begin to understand how different strands of Jewish thought at any particular time in history has understood the concept of the Messiah and the life of Jesus of Nazareth, but I also think the answer to why all Jews aren’t Christians is much too complex. Ultimately, a great number of factors play into why one does or does not believe something.

@sgewehr, I am really wrestling with your answer. I don’t deny that wilful rebellion plays a role in unbelief, but I tend to resist characterising unbelief as merely a moral failing. That is, it seems like you’re saying that Jews don’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah because they don’t want to believe that…that they know that Jesus is the Messiah, but they make up excuses because they prefer to rebel.

In my understanding, Jews, by not believing in Jesus, do not believe they are rejecting the Christ. Are you intimating that, because of their ‘rebellious nature’ they cannot see or understand that they are, indeed, rejecting the Messiah?

Or maybe I’m misunderstanding what you mean by ‘rebellious nature’? Would you say you also have a ‘rebellious nature’, or is that something particular to that nation? I would say that they are no different than myself or any other human being in having one.

I’m sorry if I have mis-stated what you meant. I’ve been wrestling with a number of different strands of thought as I typed this! I guess I am just curious how you understand it all. :slight_smile:

Hi Kathleen. I was concerned my answer might be misconstrued because of its brevity, and I probably didn’t word it wisely. I apologize. Let me be more exact in explaining what I was saying.
My point is that God found the Israelites “stiff-necked” (Ex.32: 9)from the time of their exodus and after the exile. They continued to reject God even into Jesus and Paul’s time.
Isaiah’s commission (Is. 6: 10) was to tell the people that because of their refusal to obey God, he was deafening their ears, blinding their eyes, and dulling their understanding. Jeremiah proclaimed the same thing. (Jer.5: 21). Again, Ez.12:2 said the same. These were all pre-exilic prophets.
Then Jesus said the same thing of the leadership of the Jews in Matthew 13:15. Stephen, in his speech before the Sanhedrin, (Acts 7:51-53) went even further in reiterating Ex. 32:9. Finally, Paul declared in Rome (Acts 28: 23-28) the same message, adding that “some believed, but others would not believe". This was the reason that Paul was sent to the Gentiles (Acts 28: 28).The Gentiles would listen.
Jesus knew the Pharisees had created their own laws, laws that were burdensome to the people and had nothing to do with the intent of the original laws given to Moses, laws that pointed to a coming redeemer. The Jewish people have always revered what their leadership (rabbis) instruct them to believe and not believe. If you go on the internet, you will find Jewish websites instructing that Jesus is not the Messiah. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/what-do-jews-believe-about-jesus/ is one example.
I agree with the other responders that the Jews were looking for a political leader at the time. They also did not believe in a Triune God. Jimmy cited examples of the Jews not including any “role for a savior”. These exclusions were of their own creation, not God’s, as Stephen (Acts 7) pointed out when he stated how the Jews killed the prophets who predicted the Righteous One. They have substituted their own writings for God’s.
So, these teachings of the Jewish forefathers have continued through to today and, I believe, is the root of why Jews don’t accept Christ. As a people, they have had a history of rejecting God and His Son. They are still taught today to reject Christ. So, it is this basic rejection (rebellion) that has been perpetrated and supported by their own laws written by themselves, not God. (That is why I called them “excuses”: they are not based on God’s truth). They wrote their own laws and excluded prophecies of the Messiah in order to create their basis for rejecting Christ.)
All of us have been, or are, in some form of rebellion against God. Today, the Jews, as a people and individuals, have the Gospel preached all around them. Those individuals who have a heart to truly know God have found the Truth in Christ. But those who trust the teaching of their heritage still don’t.
I hope this clarifies what I was trying to convey. I am not disparaging the Jewish people, only putting forth a basis for my suggestion as to why they don’t accept Christ. I believe Scripture confirms that basis. God loves His people. He continues to protect and watch over the nation of Israel. We, as believers, also should love the Jewish people. In fact, Scripture instructs us to pray for the nation of Israel. There is coming a day when Israel will recognize their Messiah.
As I stated previously, unbelievers are in some form of rebellion against God. Our culture and educational systems not only teach us to reject Christ, but also the existence of God. But, as a religion, the Jews are taught to love God, but reject His Christ. It is a root stemming from the ancient Biblical times.
Please forgive any previous misunderstanding of what I was saying. I’m still learning to weigh too much detail against too little. :confused:

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One way to possibly interest some Jews in Christ is to present some little-known “facts” about His death (and resurrection). For example, here are some that even most Christians don’t usually know very well.

When Jesus/Yeshua died on the Cross, multiple things happened. (I can give references if needed, one is at bottom)

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There was a great darkness in the land from the 6th hour until the 9th hour.

The enormous curtain/veil in the Temple, which separated the inner Most Holy Place from the Holy Place was somehow cut into two parts, from the top down. (The curtain was about 4 inches thick and likely over 20 feet high.)

There was a great earthquake in the land, and huge rocks were split.

The tombs of dead saints were opened up of themselves.

A great lintel stone of the Temple (about 30 feet long, and about 30 tons) was broken, which forced the Sannhedrin to relocate.

The heavy brass doors of the Temple, which required many men to open, opened up of themselves.

There was a mysterious extinction of the middle and chief light in the Golden Candlestick in the Temple.

Many observers of some or all of these phenomena began to believe in Jesus as the Son of God.

When Jesus/Yeshua rose from the dead, many of the OT saints rose with Him and went about Jerusalem preaching the Good News.

+++++++

A detailed reference for these statements can be found at:

https://hope-of-israel.org/31ad.html

Perhaps someone reading here knows a Jewish friend who would be fascinated by these occurances…

Sharon!
Thank you so much for clarifying. :slight_smile: It was so helpful for me. I do see the pattern you’re referring to, and I was just struck by how, for me, it put Paul’s lamentation in Romans 9 into deeper perspective:

I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, for ever praised! Amen.

If only I would pray with such fervour for these precious people!

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Thank you so much for this. I was concerned I still hadn’t made my point clear. The verse in Roman’s 9 is excellent.

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Hi Kathleen. Not to belabor the point, but I happened to be reading this morning in Romans 10-11 that substantiates and explains what happened to the Jews to cause their unbelief. If you haven’t read that far, I think you will find it further enlightening, as I did. It’s all part of God’s plan to graft them back into the tree. I praise Him for it.

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