The Jewish Difficulty With Jesus As The Messiah

The Jews Were Not Ready For A Messiah Like Jesus

The idea that the coming Messiah would suffer and die for the sins of the world was an impossibility in the mind of the Jews. The Savior they were anticipating would conquer the Roman government and set all Israel free to be a strong and sovereign nation once again. The problem with this Jewish concept of a conquering Messiah is that the ancient scriptures of the Hebrew prophets did not describe the first arrival of the Messiah in this manner. Isaiah wrote that the leadership of Israel would see Him “stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would suffer and die.

This fact of Jesus’ death was an insurmountable obstacle for the Pharisees. They did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah because He was not a conquering king. If a writer was seeking to contrive a story that would draw a vast number of people into a new religion, this would not be that story. The descriptions and accounts of Jesus of Nazareth were not attractive to the Jews, nor were they desirable to the world.

Heroes and conquerors are the basis of every successful novel. The four gospels are the account of a poor man with no home or possessions. He is hated from the moment of His birth. Although His mother claims He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, she is scandalized by the insinuation that the child she carries came as the result of an adulterous affair.

A Messiah Who Opposed Their Traditions

Every confrontation Jesus had with the leaders of Israel infuriated them. Jesus condemned the religious activities of the entire institution of the Sanhedrin. He stood in opposition to the manner in which they observed the Sabbath. He condemned the men who were responsible for the laws of Israel as a “brood of vipers.” Jesus described an end to all the sacrifices of the old system. He claimed that His arrival and ministry would fulfill every law of Moses and all the prophecies written for the Messiah.

When Jesus was arrested and charged with crimes that condemned Him to death by crucifixion, all of His followers scattered. The men who claimed that they would die for Jesus now publicly declared they never knew Him. He was placed in a borrowed tomb, left for dead, and thought to be a heretic and disrupter of peace.

This is not a story that would start a new religion. This was not an account that would attract the world. The primary character was hated and rejected by a majority of people, and then executed.

These accounts, by their extraordinary descriptions, lend themselves to the credibility of their content. The narrative of Jesus Christ is so exceptional, that no other account in the history of the world can match it. It is for this reason that it has survived scrutiny and criticism for over 2,000 years, and remains The Greatest Story Ever Told.

Jesus Was The Precise Messiah The Prophets Predicted

Finally, everything Jesus said and did, while He was here on earth, was predicted by the ancient Hebrew prophets. Those who assert that the New Testament accounts of Jesus are a myth, that such a man never existed, make these statements uninformed. The story of Jesus did not start at Bethlehem; it began more than 6,000 years ago, in the first book of the Bible. Genesis Chapter 3 describes the sin of Adam and his fall. Immediately after this took place, God quickly stepped in and promised a Savior who would redeem the errors of Adam. The first prophecy of the Bible is a promise from God to send a Messiah, a Redeemer who would repair the damage done by Adam’s sin.

The entire purpose of the Old Testament is to follow one story, whereby God is bringing a single line of descendants into the world that will lead to the Savior whom He promised. Alongside the stories of men and women who represent the qualities and attributes that this coming Savior will exhibit, there are unique men who wrote specific and detailed prophecies describing what the Savior will do and what He will say. There are in excess of some 400 of these prophecies, written over a period of 3,400 years, that Jesus fulfilled in the New Testament.

If the New Testament narrative of Jesus is a myth, then why do we find that these 400 prophecies, dating as far back as 4,000 years before Jesus was born, find their perfect and complete fulfillment in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection?

In order to believe that the accounts of Jesus are impossible and never happened, we would also have to concede that all the prophecies of the Hebrews describing these very events are also lies. The problem with this conclusion is that the evidence presented to us leads the reader to believe the opposite. This book presents evidence that proves Jesus fulfilled every one of the prophecies written specifically for the Messiah.

In order to believe that the entire Bible is a lie, we would have to ignore the fact that many prophecies of the Bible predicted the four major world empires, which are recorded in history long before they existed. We would need to forget that literary historians and archeological scholars have found that the accounts of the Bible are incredibly accurate in every description they have recorded. We would need to disregard the fact that Jesus fulfilled every prophecy written of the Messiah, with precision.

It Was Impossible To Deny Jesus’ Power And Authority

First, we will examine some of the evidence that will help in identifying who Jesus really is. The Pharisees were quite intrigued by Jesus. They detested His opposition to their authority, while they admired and stood in awe of the words He spoke. In their mind, Jesus exhibited characteristics that were unique amongst any other man they had seen before.

It is possible that some of the Pharisees may have wanted to test Jesus and see if He really was the Messiah. A few of these men may have believed that by placing Jesus on the cross, this would give Him an opportunity to prove His identity. We see this possibility alluded to by the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of Israel, in Matthew Chapter 27:42.

…If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross…

These leaders of Israel did not believe that Isaiah’s prophecies, in chapter 53, were applicable to Jesus. For this reason, they incorrectly identified Him and caused His death. Unknown at that time, they themselves were fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah—to turn the Messiah over to be crucified.

Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4c

Fulfilled By Jesus

Matthew 27:39-43 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ 

A Sinless Messiah

On the afternoon Jesus was crucified, there were two criminals on either side of Him, who were also dying. These men had made such a mess of their lives, that they were about to pay for their crimes. This was not true of Jesus. The testimony of all those who had known Him intimately, for many years, is that He had never sinned.

Hebrews 4:15 (Paul) For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

1 Peter 1:19 (Peter) but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

There is not a single reference in the Bible where Jesus is said to have committed a sin. When Pilate came face to face with Jesus, his observation and judgment was: “I find no fault in Him.”

Luke 23:4 So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.”

In order for anyone to accuse Jesus of sin, their accusations would have to be contrived. It is said that when the Jews were seeking to convict Jesus of crimes serious enough to put Him to death, they went looking for false testimony of His guilt.

Matthew 26:59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’ ”

False Witnesses Predicted

In order to place blame on Jesus that would necessitate His death, people had to lie about Him.

Many of those who observed the accusations against Jesus believed Him to be guilty, by the false testimony of those who sought His death. They were led to believe that Jesus had committed crimes worthy of death, because the religious leaders of Israel had said He was guilty. Today people make the same fatal error in their evaluation of Jesus. They accept the testimony of others about who Jesus is, rather than doing the important work of investigation for themselves.

Isaiah prophesied that when the Messiah would be put to death, those who observed His punishment would believe that He was being punished by God for His own evil deeds.

…Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.

The Impossibility Of This Prophecy

First, that the Messiah would be accused of sin and put to death was an unthinkable consideration for most Jews of that day. According to the Hebrew scriptures, the Messiah would be without sin: Genesis 3:15, Exodus 12:3-5, Isaiah 7:14.

Second, He would be the Eternal God who made the heavens and the earth. Since God is eternal, it is impossible that He could die; therefore, the Messiah could not die.

These were two points of stumbling for the Jews concerning Jesus at the time He arrived in Jerusalem, and they are still insurmountable problems for the Jews today.

  • First, that He claimed to be God.
  • Second, if He is God, then how could He die?

Many Jews today reject Jesus as the Messiah because He was put to death for crimes He was convicted of by the Sanhedrin of Israel. Equally important in the mind of the Jews of today is the fact that if Jesus was truly the promised Messiah, how is it that He could die, for the scriptures describe Messiah as living forever? Still others reject Jesus, because they do not believe the Messiah will be God at all but simply a normal human being who has been sent by God.

The facts are, the Hebrew scriptures teach both the Messiah will be God and the Messiah will be put to death.

It is true that God cannot die because He is eternal. What is not often considered is that God will be dwelling in the body of a man as He comes to earth as the Messiah. When the Messiah dies, it will be the body of a man that will perish, not the eternal Spirit of God. When the Messiah is raised from the dead on the third day, He will live in the resurrected body of a man forever. It was the power of the Eternal Spirit of God, which had been dwelling within the body of Jesus, that raised His human body back to life and gave Him the right to defeat death forever.

Out Of Eternity

Nearly 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Micah wrote that the Messiah would come out of eternity as God and be born as a human being in Bethlehem.

Micah 5:2a “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

Notice the specifics of this prophecy:

  1. Context: Messiah will be the ruler of Israel.
  2. He will be born in Bethlehem.
  3. He had already existed in eternity (everlasting).

Matthew writes the fulfillment of this prediction of Micah, stating that Jesus was born in Bethlehem during the days of Herod.

Matthew 2:1-2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

Joseph And Mary Live In Jerusalem, Not Bethlehem

Consider the difficulty of this prophecy. In order to place Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem so that Jesus could fulfill Micah’s prophecy, God ordained a worldwide census by the Roman government. Joseph was required to go back to the place of his ancestors’ birth to register for this census. While in Bethlehem Jesus would be born, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of Micah 5:2:

“…Yet out of you Bethlehem shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel…”

Luke Records This Event In Chapter 2 Of His Gospel:

Luke 2:1-5 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.  Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

So that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, all the citizens of the Roman empire were required to obey God’s will. The Lord moved Caesar Augustus to order the census, showing His great power over all kings and governments. Throughout the Bible, we see many examples where the Lord is described as able to move people where He wants them to go and place into their hearts a desire to do His will.

Resurrected From The Dead

Jesus said that He would be resurrected three days after His death.

John 2:18-22 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

A fact that is indisputable regarding the life of Jesus Christ is, He rose again three days after He was crucified.

Everything Jesus said and did was for the express purpose of fulfilling all of the Old Testament prophecies describing the Messiah. When Jesus began His public ministry, He knew that He was going to be crucified for the sins of the world and three days later He would rise from the dead. Jesus told the leaders of Israel that this would happen, so that once He had risen they would remember He had predicted His own resurrection.

One of the stunning proofs for Jesus as the Messiah is His ability to predict future events like the prophet Moses. The most important event He foretold was His resurrection from the dead on the third day, according to the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah.

Matthew 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

After Jesus was raised from the dead, those who had heard Him predict His resurrection recalled that He had spoken these words. The four Gospels are the written testimony of the events and the words of Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament. The purpose of the four Gospels is to display a public record that Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies, described in this book.

Forty times in the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John state that Jesus was fulfilling a prophecy from the Old Testament.

Matthew 27:62-63 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ ”

True to His word, exactly three days later, Jesus rose on the first day of the week after the Sabbath.

Matthew 28:1-6 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

The Impossibilities Of Prophecy

The men who wrote the text of the Bible did not understand this principle when they penned the Old Testament. They recorded the words they were instructed to write, and quite often they themselves did not know what they meant.

This salvation was something the prophets wanted to know more about. They prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you, even though they had many questions as to what it all could mean. They wondered what the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. They wondered when and to whom all this would happen. 1 Peter 1:10-12 (NLT 1986)

The body of evidence from the Hebrew scriptures, fulfilled in their entirety by Jesus, serves to prove that there is no other candidate in the history of the world who has met the strict requirements for Messiah, other than Jesus of Nazareth.

Isn’t it interesting that since Jesus arrived and fulfilled all 400 of the Messianic Prophecies, no one else has come into the world who has fulfilled even a few of these predictions. If Messiah was going to come, as Moses promised, He certainly would have come by now. The fact that Jesus has come and accomplished all that was written for Messiah, is sufficient proof to any reasonable person that He is the True Messiah.

See my new book: “These Things Were Written: An Expositional Treatise Of The Life, Death, And Resurrection of Jesus,” now at Amazon.


Categories: All Israel will be saved, Building the Third Temple, Buried in a rich man's tomb, Despised and Rejected, Fulfilling Daniel's Chapter 9, Israel in the Last Days, Jewish rejection of Jesus, Jews reject Jesus, Messianic Prophecies, Messianic Prophecy Bible, Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus, Robert Clifton Robinson, The First Arrival of the Messiah

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