Do Jews Believe in Jesus?
Do Jews Believe in Jesus?
Vivian Bricker Contributing Writer
Orthodox Judaism does not teach the authenticity of Jesus as the Son of God so Jews don’t adhere to Christian teachings. However, it's important to understand the differences between Messianic and Orthodox Jews.
In short: no, orthodox Jews do not believe in Jesus as the Messiah. Only Messianic Jews claim Jesus as Lord. Orthodox Judaism does not teach the authenticity of Jesus as the Son of God so Jews don’t adhere to Christian teachings. However, it's important to understand the differences between Messianic and Orthodox Jews:
Jesus’ earthly life is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Jews do not see the New Testament as being a reliable historical document. The main reason why Jews do not believe in Jesus as the Messiah is that according to the Jews He did not fulfill all the Messianic prophecies (“Why Do Most Jewish People Not Believe In Jesus?” Jews For Jesus, 2022). The Jews had envisioned Jesus to be a mighty warrior who was going to sweep in and destroy their dreaded enemies—the Romans. Rather than Jesus sweeping in as a warrior, He came in as a gentle King (Matthew 21:5). Since Jesus did not defeat the Romans in a physical sense of war, the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah. When Christ told the Jews that He was in fact God, they rejected Him and charged Him with blasphemy (John 10:31-42). Due to the Jews' rejection of Christ, the Kingdom will be established at Jesus’ Second Coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).
After Jesus had risen from the grave, the Jewish leaders were ready to dismiss any claims that Jesus had defeated death, physically and spiritually. Matthew 28:12-15 tells us, “When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, ‘You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’ So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.”
Matthew’s Gospel is correct because this lie is still circulated among the Jews even into the modern 21st century. Orthodox Jews do not believe Jesus was the Messiah nor do they believe He is God. Jewish historian, Josephus, mentioned Jesus in his writing, Antiquities of the Jews, in which Josephus describes Jesus as being a teacher, dying, and rising from the grave. Even though this key historical text contains the truth about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, many Jews do not believe in Jesus. Many Jews believe Jesus to be a moral teacher; however, they do not believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (“What Do Jews Believe About Jesus?” My Jewish Learning, 2022).
There is an off-branch of Judaism known as Messianic Jews or “Jews for Jesus.” These Jewish individuals are Jews by ethnicity and culture; however, they believe that Jesus is the Messiah and their Lord. Messianic Jews are saved because they have accepted Jesus as their Savior. Those who identify as Messianic Jews still participate in Jewish customs, cultural practices, and holidays; however, they still believe in Jesus and have accepted Him as their Lord. In the present day, there are currently 350,000 Messianic Jews across the world (Ingrid Anderson, “Why The History Of Messianic Judaism Is So Fraught And Complicated,” The Conversation, 2018). Many people are unaware of Messianic Jews' practices and beliefs, but this information is necessary as we recognize a different sector of the Body of Christ.
Normally, Messianic Jews are not accepted by Orthodox Jews because of their belief in Jesus. Even though Messianic Jews are shunned by Orthodox Jews, Messianic Jews still partake in Jewish customs, culture, and celebrations. In addition to participating in Jewish customs, culture, and celebrations, Messianic Jews also adhere to Old Testament Jewish practices, such as circumcision, kosher laws, Saturday Sabbath, and holy days (Matt Slick, “What is Messianic Judaism?” CARM, 2013). In the same way as traditional Judaism, Messianic Judaism also retains the practice of having rabbis (Matt Slick, “What is Messianic Judaism?” CARM, 2013). However, Messianic Jews to Jesus as Yeshua, which is the Jewish name for Jesus (Matt Slick, “What is Messianic Judaism?” CARM, 2013).
Additionally, Messanic Jews choose to meet in their own congregation rather than meeting in a Jewish synagogue or a Christian denomination church. While some Messanic Jews do meet in Christian churches on Sunday morning, there are many who decide to stay with their own Messanic Jewish congregation for worship (Matt Slick, “What is Messianic Judaism?” CARM, 2013). Within Orthodox Judaism, Jews believe redemption is connected to Passover; however, Messanic Judaism adheres to placing faith in Yeshua as the sole means of redemption (“Redemption,” Jews For Jesus, 2022).
Orthodox Jews do not believe in the importance of placing faith in Christ; whereas, Messanic Jews believe it is of the utmost importance to place faith in Yeshua. In the same way, Jews believe Jesus was a real teacher. However, Orthodox Judaism does not believe Jesus is the Messiah, but Messanic Judaism does believe Jesus is the Messiah, worshipping Him as the Second Member of the Trinity.
Disbelief Of Orthodox Jews
As we have established, Orthodox Judaism does not believe Jesus is the Messiah. Most Jews, however, do not deny the existence of Jesus as a historical figure. Varying beliefs surrounding the identity of Jesus have circulated among the Jews, ranging from Him being a Jewish teacher, a charismatic teacher, or a false messiah (“Ask the Expert: Who Was Jesus?” My Jewish Learning, 2022). Jesus is, of course, not a false messiah as He fulfilled all Old Testament prophecies concerning the awaited Messiah.
Orthodox Jews also choose to not believe in Jesus because they believe it is impossible that God came down from Heaven and took on human flesh (Steve Johnson, “Why Do Judaism and Christianity Differ on Beliefs about the Messiah?” Insights for Living, 2022). They believe it would undermine God’s divinity if He took on the form of a human man. Disbelief among the Orthodox Jews also stems from Jews not seeing the necessity of placing faith in Christ for salvation. Orthodox Jews do not believe mankind is born with a sin nature; therefore, any sins committed during a person’s life can be counteracted by doing good deeds and obeying the Jewish Law (Steve Johnson, “Why Do Judaism and Christianity Differ on Beliefs about the Messiah?” Insights for Living, 2022).
One of the most crucial differences between Orthodox Jews and Messianic Jews is that Orthodox Jews view Jesus’ death as a weakness rather than a strength. Jesus’ gentle and humble nature is a stumbling block for the Jews as was His teachings. The concept of Jesus’ crucifixion is symbolic of weakness to the Jews since they were expecting the Messiah to be a political figure to destroy their enemies. Jesus did not live up to the Jews' expectation of a mighty political leader. Rather, Jesus was the peaceful Messiah who was going to die for the sins of the world. For the Jews, the long-awaited Messiah was not found in Jesus though He was truly the Messiah. The disbelief among traditional Judaism continues to stretch into today with many Jews still choosing to not believe in Jesus as the Son of God.
The only Jews who worship Jesus are the Messianic Jews. Traditional/Orthodox Jews do not believe in the Messiahship nor the divinity of Jesus. Most traditional Jews believe Jesus was a Jewish teacher, charismatic leader, or a false Messiah; however, as Christians, we know Jesus is our Redeemer, Savior, and God. Jesus is the way, the truth, and life (John 14:6). Salvation is found in no one but Jesus (Acts 4:12). As Christians, we should help Jews come to the knowledge of accepting Jesus as their Savior and Lord. By pointing back to Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah, we can show Jews how Jesus fulfilled these prophecies. The Lord died for all people, including Jews. In fact, Israel is God’s chosen people and God has a special future for the Jewish Nation (Romans 11:11-26).
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Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.