“If Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, Shouldn’t all Jewish People Believe in Him?”
By Eric Chabot, CJF Midwest Representative
Apologetics is the branch of theology that helps us to answer the tough questions people have about what we beleive and why we believe in specific issues such as the existence of God, the Messiah's rising from the dead, the reliability of the Bible, etc. Most recently, I got an email from someone who had a very specific question in relation to Jewish people. Now keep in mind that this person is a professing Christian. But her question is one that has been asked before. She asks the following:
‘Why have the Jews rejected Jesus?” Looking at the statistics, almost all of them have missed their Messiah. I can not wrap my head around this. I was told by a Jewish Christian that the majority doesn’t mean truth. That doesn’t answer the question. I look up to many prominent, intelligent, orthodox Jews in politics. They say they have really looked into their faith. The main case I have heard them give for Judaism is that the law brings about a good society. The Jewish people do appear to have a much better life structure. They seem to really flourish. I’m not convinced Jesus was the messiah based on prophecy. The Jewish people don’t look at God the same. How can you find truth when Christians say the Old Testament means one thing and Jews say another thing? I believe the case for the New Testament and Resurrection is very strong, but I just don’t understand how they could have missed it? It just doesn’t make sense. I don’t even know where to start on this journey. I just want to know truth and I’m afraid of missing it."- Jenny
I have seen this objection more than once. Here was my response:
I have been dealing with this topic for about 25 years and grew up in a Jewish community. I came to faith hearing the Gospel from a Jewish believer. I am not Jewish. But anyway, as far as your question:
The scriptural answer to your question is that when you read the Jewish Scriptures/The O.T., we see in many cases, Israel was in unbelief. Their entire history was about God giving them covenants, and they obviously would break the Law/the Torah and God judged them every time. They were exiled outside the land on a number of occasions. The prophets always were sent to them to call them to repentance. So it is not as if Israel was always faithful. They had a long history of rejection. Even after the giving of the Torah, they fell right back into idolatry.
Also, there is no specific text/texts in the O.T. where it says they all would understand and embrace the Messiah when he comes.
Thus, as I say again, there are no text/texts that say, “When the Messiah comes, all will believe and know him.” Paul talks about this in Romans 9-11. Only a remnant (a small number) has believed. There has always been a faithful remnant who did believe and went on to carry out what Israel had always been called to do which is to be a “light to the nations.”
As far as prophecy, the Abrahamic Covenant was prophetic. In this sense, there are several aspects of the covenant such as land promises, etc. But as far as Gentiles, they are supposed to receive spiritual blessings, but ultimately these were fulfilled though one specific “seed” of Abraham—the Messiah. True Israel are those that are circumcised in heart (see the rest of Romans as well).
However, Romans 11: 12 indicates a staged progression in blessing the Gentiles. God allowed for a large portion of Israel to reject the Messiah, so that the “riches” Gentiles are experiencing now during the state of Israel’s “stumbling” will escalate with the “full number” of national Israel’s salvation (see Rom. 11:26). Paul talks about this mystery in Romans 11. Israel will be grafted back in when the fullness of the Gentiles leads it to respond (Rom 11:11-12; 15, 30-32).
Also, given Israel’s calling it should be no shock that in Ephesians 2: 11-3:6, the Gentiles recipients are addressed as those who were formally without the Messiah. They were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise\, having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2: 12). So Israel was already near (Eph. 2:17), but the good news is that now along with Gentiles they even brought closer to God (Eph. 2:18). So through a believing Jewish remnant, we now have over 1 billion non-Jews that have come to know the one true God. So Jesus is the only Jew that has helped over 1 billion non-Jews come to know the one true God. No, large numbers don’t make something true. But given the prophetic nature of the Abrahamic covenant, this is something that should not be discarded.
Remember, the Bible speaks of a suffering/atoning, rejected Messiah: (Psalm 22; 118: 22; Isaiah 52:13-53.12, Daniel 9:25-26, Zechariah 12:10) and well as a the ruling/kingly Messiah: (2 Sam 7:10–14; Pss. 2:7; 72:1 Pss. 89:4, 26, 35–37; 132:11–12, 17–18; Dan 7:13).
As far as Jewish people not accepting their Messiah, remember, a large majority of them have never looked into it. Most of my Jewish friends couldn’t give me one reason as to why they reject Jesus. It is more of a cultural identity issue. Rejection of Jesus and is now part of their identity. Remember, most of Judaism today is also a reaction to Christianity. Granted, there was no Christianity when Jesus and Paul were here and the Christianity many Jewish people are reacting too is a “dejudaized” Christianity. It is a much later version. The Judaism of today is Rabbinic Judaism which is an outgrowth of Pharisaical Judaism. Also, many Jewish people don’t even think God exists. Trust me, I know because I have done campus ministry for 15 years. You don’t have to believe in God to be Jewish. So if there is no God, why care about a messiah?
Now, what about someone that says “Well, there are some really good scriptural reasons to reject Jesus as the Messiah.” I discuss these here in the post called “A Look at the Objection: “Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus!”
Hope that helps,
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- Handling a Rabbi’s Objection: The Messianic Mission and the Inclusion of the Gentiles into God’s Redemptive Plan
- A Look at the Jewish Gospel
- A Look at the Eternal Son of David
- Three Things The Gospel Authors Would Have Never Invented About the Messiah
- A Look at Messianic Prophecy: Hints and Signs of the Coming King in the Old Testament