Even though the Bible reveals that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, why don’t the Jews believe in Him?
The Messiah Arrives
Since the gospel was first introduced in Genesis 3:15, the people of God have been waiting for their Redeemer, and even Job declared long ago, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25), however the Jews, God’s chosen people, have been waiting for the Messiah, but clearly, the Jews did not accept Jesus as the One Who God was going to send into the world and neither does modern day Israel. This, despite the fact that Moses wrote about the coming of One Who God would send, writing, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him” (Deut 18:18), but it came with a warning; “And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him” (Deut 18:19). This is He Whom God referred to as the One Who would come into the world and become flesh, and where the Apostle John writes, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The woman at the well and many other Samaritans of the time were waiting for the coming of the Messiah to come, just like the Jews. The Samaritan woman said, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things” (John 4:25), and when she was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, she ran back to her village and said, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ? They went out of the town and were coming to him” (John 4:29)? Andrew knew he had found the Messiah, and so he “found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ)” (John 4:25), we can see by the two examples that Jesus was known as the Messiah from early on, and by Samaritans and by the Jews. They had seen how He had fulfilled Old Testament prophecies, but the Jews refused to see.
The Greek word for Messiah is “Messias” and means “anointed and “Christ” essentially means the same thing. You could safely say that the word “Christ” and “Messiah” stand for God’s anointed (Greek “Christos”). When Matthew is recording the royal lineage of Jesus Christ, he begins by writing, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham,” (Matt 1:1),and ends with, “Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ” (Matt 1:16), and in the gospels alone, “Messiah” and “Christ” appear well over 500 times, so obviously Jesus is the anointed of God (“Christos”) and that means He is the Messiah the Jews have long been waiting for. At the Passover Seder, which is the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover, the Jews always leave an empty chair for the Messiah, but they also leave a cup for Elijah the Prophet at the table that is usually filled with wine near the end of the Seder, but at the time of Jesus’ arrival, there was a heightened sense of the coming of the Messiah.
Even though Jesus fulfilled the signs of the many prophecies of the Old Testament, the Jews would still not accept Him as the Messiah. Many believed that when the Messiah would come, “he would restore all things,” and all nations will come to worship the Lord (Isaiah 2:1-4), and all the implements of war would be forged into implements of agriculture(“swords into plowshares”)…or from a time of war to a time of prosperity (Isaiah 2:5), so when the Messiah died, they saw Jesus as a failure to fulfill what the prophecies foretold about the Messiah, but interestingly, they actually were fulfilled in Him, even those written thousands of years before He came to earth (Psalm 22, 23). He was the Lamb that was led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7), making Himself “an offering for guilt” (Isaiah 53:10), and “he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12b). Some Orthodox Jews read Isaiah 53 as a prophecy about them and their suffering. They believe they are God’s “suffering servant,” and so they don’t see Jesus as the “Lamb led to the slaughter,” but themselves as the persecuted and afflicted ones. A Messiah that bore the guilt of sinful people (Isaiah 53:10-11) is not the Messiah that the Jews had been expecting. Today if you walked up to a Jewish person, orthodox or not, they’d likely say, “Jesus was nice Jewish boy and a good teacher, but not a prophet, not the Messiah, and not an embodiment of G-d any more than the rest of us are.” They disbelieve Jesus’ claim that the Father and Him are one (John 10:29), so even if you show the Jews a hundred prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus, they would not accept a Messiah that was crucified and died.
The Apostle Paul who was a former Pharisee, and he understood why the Jews wouldn’t accept Jesus as their Messiah. Paul, in referring to the Jews, tells us why. It was because “their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away” (2nd Cor 3:14), and “to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts” (2nd Cor 3:15), so Paul says, “even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing” (2nd Cor 4:3). For the Jews, and Gentiles, it is only “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed” (2nd Cor 3:16). Why do the Jews and others reject Jesus Christ? It is because “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2nd Cor 4:4). In fact, Jesus said that God “has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them” (John 12:40). What this means is that God must call that person, but only through Christ (John 6:44), just like where Luke wrote: “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). Just as Paul’s scales had to be removed (Acts 9), the Jews veil must be removed, and it will someday. It’s just not today. Some Messianic Jews are trusting in Christ, but they are a tiny majority within the entire nation of Israel.
The Jews, like anyone else, cannot receive Jesus without the Spirit of God, because only the Spirit of God can reveal the Son of God, and “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1st Cor 2:10). It’s not that they will not, but that they cannot, at least yet. Not only does the Bible teach that every single knee will bow and every single tongue ever created will confess that Jesus Christ as Lord (Phil 2:9-11), the timing of a person’s acknowledgement is vital to the eternal destiny. If a person trusts in Christ today or already has, and has bowed the knee and confesses with their tongue voluntarily. Now, they await their eternal rewards, the greatest of which is seeing Jesus Christ for the very first time, but also hearing these precious words from our Lord and Savior, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21-24). Today, the Jews, like much of the world, is blinded to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it’s not us who make the blind to see; it is God Who saves those who cannot save themselves (Eph 2:1-3), and God will receive everyone who repents and trusts in Christ. Someday, the Jews will believe someday and the nation of Israel will be restored. God has not forsaken His people utterly, and most certainly, He will never leave us or forsake us who are in the Body of Christ (Heb 13:5), and so we can say with complete confidence, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Rom 10:11).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is host of Spiritual Fitness and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.