To answer this question, we will begin by concentrating briefly on the fact that the Jews rejected Jesus when He was on earth, and Judaism has continued with that rejection up until the present time. We will also give ample proof that Jesus did exist although some still question that fact.
Some Jews at the time that Jesus was on earth did believe in Him. In our booklet, “The Fall and Rise of the Jewish People,” we read on page 60 the following under the heading “Some Jews Believed in Christ”:
“Some Jews believed what Paul taught, as noted in Acts 17:1–4: ‘Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.’”
We also continue to state on pages 60-61, under the heading, “Most Jews Did Not Believe”:
“Most Jews rejected what Paul taught: ‘On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles”… But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region’ (Acts 13:44–46, 50).
“Later in his ministry, being a prisoner, Paul was taken to Rome. Nonetheless, he was still able to teach those who came to him. Among those were leaders of the Jews in Rome (Acts 28:17), and Paul spoke to them: ‘So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved’ (Acts 28:23–24).”
Continuing on pages 61 -62 under the heading, “Why the Rejection?”:
“Paul explained why most of the Jews rejected Jesus, using the analogy of the veil that Moses had to place over his face, due to the glory of his countenance, following his presence before God: ‘But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away’ (2 Corinthians 3:14–16).
“Paul made it clear that the rulers killed Jesus because they did not understand the wisdom of God, as written in 1 Corinthians 2:7–8: ‘But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.’
“Christ confirmed this fact, praying to God the Father to forgive His murderers, because ‘they do not know what they do’ (Luke 23:34).
“On the other hand, it is true that the Pharisees had some knowledge about the person of Christ. Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees, came to Christ by night and told Him: ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with Him’ (John 3:2).
“Still, most Pharisees rejected Him because they were envious and did not want to lose their positions in the community (Matthew 27:18; John 11:48). They even accused Him of casting out demons through the power of Satan, which caused Christ to give them a stern warning, since they knew better (Matthew 12:22–32).
“The apostle Peter boldly preached to the Jews about Christ, showing again that the Jews were ‘ignorant’ as to who Christ was:
“‘The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses… Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled’ (Acts 3:13–15, 17–18).
“The people did not really understand who Christ was. Christ asked His disciples: ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ The disciples answered: ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or some of the prophets.’ When Jesus asked them: ‘But who do you say that I am?’, Peter answered: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Christ responded that this revelation had to come from God the Father; otherwise, he would not have understood this either (compare Matthew 16:13–17).”
We read in John 1:10-11: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” Since that time, this rejection of Jesus as the Messiah has been the approach of most Jews down through the last 2,000 years.
On the website https://jewsforjesus.org/answers/why-do-most-jews-not-believe-in-jesus/ we read the following:
“Religious reasons most Jews do not believe in Jesus.
“Rabbis, religious leaders and religious followers will respond to this question that Jesus cannot be the Messiah because he did not fulfill the job requirements.
“Judaism does not believe that Jesus was the Messiah because He did not fulfill any messianic prophecies. ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore’ (Isaiah 2:4).’ Far from establishing world peace, Jesus himself said he came to divide ‘father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother’ (Luke 12:53, ESV). In fact, there has been more bloodshed in the name of Jesus rather than peace. How can anyone argue that Jesus is the promised Messiah according to the Jewish Scriptures?”
It is indeed true that there has been violence down through the ages, but this cannot be justified by quoting the above-mentioned passage in Luke 12. There, Christ did not advocate any violence against others, but He pointed out that His Word—the Truth—is a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17; and Revelation 1:16) which will divide truth from error and cause those who do not believe to persecute those who do.
The quoted website explains this quite succinctly:
“These many atrocities and this tragic legacy are a stain on those who call themselves Christians and identify with those who claim to share the same faith. However, we must ask ourselves, is any of this what Jesus taught his followers to do? Is there a single New Testament writer who advocated violence and called for injury to the Jews? Jesus himself declared, ‘all who take the sword will perish by the sword’ (Matthew 26:52, ESV). Contrary to the early church fathers, Paul declared that God has not rejected the Jews. ‘Has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite’ (Romans 11:1, ESV). It is clear that this tragic legacy of those who identify themselves with Jesus does not follow the instructions of Jesus or the New Testament writers.”
Today, Judaism rejects Jesus as the Messiah but some Jews claim that they accept Him.
The Jewish Virtual Library estimates that there are 14,707,400 Jews worldwide and the jewsforjesus website states that “Statistics of how many Jews embrace Jesus range wildly from 1.7 million Jewish adults to 175,000 Messianic Jews in the US. Some have argued that these figures represent Jews who are assimilated, disaffected, and otherwise uneducated in Judaism. However, the historical record would disagree. Some who embraced Jesus are among the most educated in Judaism such as Israel Zolle, the chief rabbi of Rome during World War II; Isaac Lichtenstein, district rabbi of Tapio-Szele in Hungary, who after 35 years serving his synagogue, at age 60, publicly declared to his congregation he discovered Yeshua is the Messiah; and Leopold Cohn, the Grand Rabbi of Austria-Hungary. Even today, there are Jews with different degrees of educations and observance, courageous enough to explore whether Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah in spite of the dictates of traditions and religious authorities.”
It is clear from these estimates that the vast majority of Jewish people do not accept Jesus as the Messiah (or even claim that they do), and that is the view of the Judaic faith.
This information gives us the basis to review the reasons WHY the great majority of the Jews dismiss Jesus as the Saviour of mankind. To look at what Jews believe today, we will quote from the website www.jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm as follows:
“The idea of mashiach (messiah) is an ancient one in Judaism. The Jewish idea of mashiach is a great human leader like King David, not a savior. There is much speculation about when the mashiach will come. The Bible identifies several tasks that the mashiach will accomplish. Jews do not believe in Jesus because he did not accomplish these tasks.”
The article continues:
“Jews do not believe that Jesus was the mashiach. [According to their reasoning, even “assuming”] that he existed, and assuming that the Christian scriptures are accurate in describing him (both matters that are debatable [in the eyes of the Jews]), [the Jews believe that] he simply did not fulfill the mission of the mashiach as it is described in the biblical passages cited above. Jesus did not do any of the things that the scriptures said the messiah would do.”
Let us break in here to answer the absurd statement about the fact that Jesus’ existence is questionable. (We will address the absurdity of questioning the accuracy of the Christian Scriptures in the next instalment). In our booklet “Jesus Christ – A Great Mystery!” this question is immediately addressed under the heading, “Did Jesus Exist?”, beginning on page 1, and below is a brief extract (we recommend, however, to read the entire chapter in our booklet, proving beyond doubt the existence of Jesus):
“Is there any historical proof that a person called Jesus Christ ever existed? Although it is sometimes claimed by atheists and agnostics that the very person of Jesus was an invention by early writers, very few educated people down through history have doubted the existence of Christ. There are more than 1,000 works of literature that were written very early in Church history affirming the existence of Christ, and much of it was written by pagans or Jews—people who acknowledged His existence, but denied that He was, indeed, the Son of God.
“H.G. Wells wrote in ‘Outline of History’: ‘…one is obliged to say, “Here was a man. This part of the tale could not have been invented.”’ Will Durant, professor of philosophy, and a non-Christian, wrote extensively about Christ’s existence and His effect on society in ‘The Story of Civilization.’ The Encyclopedia Britannica refers to Christ more than 20,000 times—more than Socrates, Aristotle, Buddha, Napoleon, Confucius, Mohammed, or Shakespeare. It says in one instance: ‘These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds by the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.’
“John Singleton Copley, also known as Lord Lyndhurst, one of the greatest legal minds in British history, once commented in this way on the existence of Christ, His death, and His resurrection: ‘I know pretty well what evidence is: and I tell you, such evidence as that for the resurrection has never broken down yet.’ Also, Lord Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling, once said: ‘no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.’
“Consider also this brief synopsis of many other non-Biblical sources attesting to the historical authenticity of Jesus Christ:
“The Huleatt fragments were written in AD 50 and contain the quote from Matthew 26:7–15, referring to Christ’s anointing with oil.
“Tatian, the Syrian, wrote in AD 170 that, ‘God was born in the form of a man’ (Address to the Greeks 21).
“Melito of Sardis wrote in AD 177 about the baptism of Christ and His miracles (Fragment in Anastasius of Sinai’s The Guide 13).
“Thallus, a Samaritan historian, wrote in AD 52 about the darkness that occurred at the crucifixion of Christ.
“Mara Bar-Serapion wrote in AD 73 to his son about the death of Socrates, Pythagoras and Jesus.
“Cornelius Tacitus wrote in AD 112 or AD 115 in his Annal (15.14) that ‘Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberias.’
“Lucian of Samostasa (AD 115–200) wrote about Christ as ‘the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world.’
“Phlegon wrote in his ‘Chronicles’ in AD 140 about the ability of Jesus to foresee future events.
“In addition, Christian authors such as Clement of Rome [AD 30–101], Ignatius [martyred in AD 117], a writer naming himself Barnabas [in the Epistle of Barnabas, written between AD 70 and 135], and Justyn Martyr [AD 100–165] wrote about Christ and His followers.
“The Jewish Talmud contains several references to Jesus Christ. It states on one occasion, ‘On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged’ (The Babylonian Talmud, vol. iii, Sanhedrin 43a, p. 281). Another quote states, ‘Our rabbis taught: Yeshu had five disciples—Mattai [i.e. Matthew], Nakkai, Netzer, Buni and Yodah’ (from Sanhedrin 43a). Other sources talk about Christians who were following Christ (compare, Aristides, Apology 16 [AD 140]; Pliny the Younger [AD 112]; and Suetonius [AD 120]).”
(To be continued)
Lead Writers: Brian Gale (United Kingdom) and Norbert Link