Objections by Jews to Believing in Jesus

It is often asked, “If Jesus is the promised Messiah of the scriptures, why don’t the Jews believe in Him?”   It is a good question.   Michael Brown, a converted Jew, well-qualified academically, sought to answer the question in his book, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Volume II.   His answers are summarized below for the reader’s concise review.   The objections are:

 

1.        “We believe in one God, not three.”

2.        “God is not a man, nor is man God.”

3.        “God doesn’t have a son.”

4.        “Blood sacrifices are not necessary for sin; our deeds (works) are sufficient.”

5.        “We do not believe in original sin, the fall of man, or that man is totally sinful.”

6.        “Jews don’t need to repent.”

7.        “Jews don’t believe in the divine Messiah, or a suffering Messiah, or a Messiah that will come to earth twice.”

8.        “Jews don’t believe we are called to unnatural emotions (love your enemies), or that they should be driven to faith by fear of hell, or that good moral people among Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists should be separated from God simply because they don’t believe in Jesus.”

 

We will respond to these questions in their order:

 

1.        “We believe in God, one God, not three.” Answer: So do all Christians, for we, like Judaism and Islam, are the three monotheistic faiths.   We reject polytheism (several gods).   The New Testament is very clear on this point (I Timothy 2:5, Galatians 3:20).   The charge is false.   The charge proceeds from reasoning about the Christian teaching that the one true God is a composite of three distinct persons in a compound unity, which is called the trinity, a word itself not in the Bible.   This is true as seen in the unequivocal formula of Matthew 28:19 and joining in equality of the Father and the Son in most of the New Testament letters.   Add to this the interaction of three persons in both N.T. and O.T. passages (Psalm 2:2-7 and Psalm 110:1).   See the question of Jesus about this verse in Matthew 22:42-45.

 

      The compound unity of God is seen in the plural name Elohim (the im suffix indicates a plural).   It is seen in His self-reference as “our” and “we” (Genesis 1:26).

 

      The compound unity of God is seen in the two words for one in Hebrew, echad and yacheed.   Yacheed means one and only one.   Echad means a plurality within a unity.   The Jewish “shema” confession from Deuteronomy 6:4 uses the word echad in confessing that God is one.   See also Isaiah 45:5, 18, 22.   The Tabernacle with many parts is one (echad).   The nation of Israel with millions of people is called echad, both compound unities.   Grammatical usage supports the concept.   Compound plurals are often used to speak of leaders, kings, owners, and masters, and plural nouns are used with singular adjectives.

 

2.        “God is not a man, or is man God.”   Answer:   Jesus is both God (the Son) and Man, one Person with different qualities and functions.   On the one hand Messiah Jesus is a child (a human) but also “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:5-7).   As God, He raised the dead, forgave sins, accepted worship without rebuke, including Thomas’ confession, “My Lord and my God.”   On the other hand, He was a man who was born, died, suffered, hungered, thirsted, bled, and walked among men in appearance as a normal Jew.   Only a man could die for another man’s sins.

 

3.        “God does not have a son.”   Answer:   The scripture says otherwise (Psalm 2:7).   The Rabbinic commentary Midrash Tehillim sites Psalm 89:28 about David’s son, his “firstborn,” where the king is God’s son.   This was considered by older Jewish sages to be one of the most famous Messianic prophecies.   See also Daniel 7:3-14, Psalm 45:2-8.   The key question is asked in Proverbs 30:4:   “Who has established the end of the earth?   What is His Name or His Son’s Name?   Surely you know!”   How can an earthly king be called Elohim (God) (Psalm 45:2-8 and Isaiah 9:5-7) as well as “my God” and “everlasting Father”?   Also significantly, “Prince of Peace”?

 

4.         “Blood sacrifices are not necessary for salvation.   Our deeds are sufficient.”   Answer:   If this were true, it would be impossible to understand why God instituted the Old Testament Sacrificial System.   If they were memorials, then they were memorials of what?   If the Passover was important and utilized the blood sacrifice, why is it not applicable as a principle?   The Torah says sacrifices, properly offered by people walking with God, pleased God (Genesis 8:21, Exodus 29:18, 25, 41), a “pleasing aroma” (Leviticus).

 

      It is true that God desires good deeds or righteous works, mercy and humility (Micah 6:8, Isaiah 1:17).   This does not cancel out the need for blood sacrifices.   God does not receive the defiled person.   Their sacrifices are unacceptable.   The inner condition of the person was a prerequisite to acceptable sacrificial rituals (Isaiah 29:13).   The destruction of the Temple and the animal sacrificial system by the Romans with God’s sanction was highly significant.   It judged a sinful nation and destroyed their hypocritical religious exercises, scattering the people.   God replaced this with the true and ultimate blood sacrifice, His Son, “The Lamb of God” who took away the sin of the world.   Of course, this is New Testament teaching, but it is founded on the Old.   Almost one fourth of the N.T. refers to the O.T. in some way.   Moreover, in the N.T. we read, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission (of sin).”   As for deeds being sufficient, such verses as Ephesians 2:8, 9 say decisively that we are not saved by good deeds but by God’s grace and His free gift of salvation unmerited.   Grace is not simply a New Testament teaching.   It occurs often in the Old Testament and is frequently illustrated, including Abraham himself (Romans 4:2-5) or David (Romans 4:6-8).

 

5.    “We do not believe in original sin or the fall of man or that the human race is totally sinful.”   Answer:   Then Hebrew Scriptures must be wrong in saying so.   Remember, of course, Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful more than all things and desperately wicked.”   We do not believe that human beings can never do anything good or that people are always and only evil.   Many noble and admirable qualities in countless individuals are evident (e.g., Mother Teresa).   We believe that man, created perfect, became corrupt.   How else could we explain wars, evil doing, abuse, oppression, corruption, violence, hatred, and other human-like practices?   It has permeated the seed of Adam since the first sin in the garden alienated man from God (the “fall of man”).

 

6.    “Jews do not need to repent.”   Answer:   This is a strange objection, considering how frequently God calls on them to repent in the Old Testament.   In addition, the Talmud, the Jewish sages and thinkers like Maimonides, all taught the need for repentance.   Jews sin like everyone else and all of us need to repent when we do, to turn from wrong to right, to be sorry when we have sinned, to sincerely confess and forsake wrong attitudes and deeds.   Maimonides devoted an entire section of his law code (Mishneh Torah) to this subject.

 

7.    “Jews do not believe in the Divine Messiah, a suffering Messiah, or a Messiah who comes to earth twice.”

 

a)        The Divine Messiah is difficult.   The objection is answered under No. 2, citing Isaiah 9:6.   Older Rabbinic commentators on Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 identify with Messiah who is there shown as giving an “everlasting dominion,” is worshipped and approaches “the ancient of days” on an equal footing.   The Lubavitchers, or Hasidic Jews, had a masthead on their newsletter identifying the Messiah as “not of flesh and blood like Moses, but rather to be the Holy One.”   Certainly this is a Divine Messiah and some Jews believed this.   The Old Testament scriptures taught it.

 

b)       The suffering Messiah is more clearly evident in Psalm 22.   The Pesikia Rabbati Midrash of the 9th Century applies this to Messiah as do others despite many denials.   The details are unmistakably about the sufferings of a crucified man.   It is also evident in Isaiah 53, which resisters seek to apply to Israel.   But Israel never died vicariously to put away the sins of others, as Jesus did.   Many Rabbinic commentators clearly apply Isaiah 53 to Messiah.   See other Appendix for examples.   An attempt has been made to escape this with a “two Messiah” theory.   Rebuttals are available but not detailed here.

 

c)        The teaching that Messiah would come twice was completely obscure to Old Testament commentators, not being explicitly stated.   I Peter 1 says that scriptural students puzzled over the teachings of both a suffering and a ruling Messiah.   They did not understand that it would necessitate two comings, first to suffer and die, then to judge and rule the earth.


8.    “Jews don’t believe we are called to unnatural emotions like ‘love your enemies,’ or that we should be driven to faith by fear of hell; or that
      ‘good people’ such as religious Jews, devout Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, should perish simply because they don’t believe in Jesus.”

 

a)        As to the first objection, loving your enemies is not natural, certainly to those whose own nature is corrupted by sin.   Yet Jesus called us to the unnatural, divinely inspired love of other sinners and offered power and motivation to do so.   Certainly, it is not good to hate people, even the most worthy of it.   Hatred is never good, only inspiring more hatred and violence.   By contrast, love is superior and overcomes evil with good.

 

b)       God does not want to “drive us to faith” by anything, although He is able to do so.   He wants man to choose Him out of love and gratitude.   Still he warns of the danger in not choosing to obey Him.   We are to fear God, which is “the beginning of wisdom.”   The “God-fearer” is welcome to God and everywhere taught, even in Old Testament Scripture.

 

c)        If anyone responds, God can either bring him to someone that knows and will share (unintelligible) (Acts 9:11-15) or bring him to someone who can show him (Phillip to the Ethiopian in Acts 8:27-35).   Either way, like can come.   If not available, the two witnesses are, which is to say creation and conscience (Romans 1:19-20, 2:15).   In the end, the sad fact remains few are saved.   Many are lost.   In either case, it is by their choice in life concerning the Creator.