Why Can’t the Jews See That Jesus is the Messiah?

As a Messianic Jewish pastor in Israel, I get this question all the time.

| Topics: Jesus, Messiah, Yeshua
Why can't Israel recognize Jesus as its Messiah?
Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90

“Why can’t Jews see that Yeshua (Jesus) is the promised Messiah? It’s so clear from the Bible. Don’t they read the prophecies?”

That’s a question I get all the time. People seem to think that the Jews should be able to recognize their own Messiah more readily than others, and can’t fathom the ongoing Jewish resistance to the Gospel. Why is that?


Resistance to the Gospel is not a Jewish problem

It should not surprise us that Jewish people reject Yeshua (Jesus). Doesn’t the Bible teach that all of us, men and women, Jew and Gentile alike, resist the Gospel for the same reason – our sin and the pride that refuses to acknowledge our need for a Messiah or his forgiveness? In this there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. Resistance to the Gospel is common amongst all peoples, and there will always be few who are willing to enter the narrow gate and live by the teachings of Yeshua.

The Messiah himself even when we walked this earth and was seen by men was rejected. But was he surprised by that? Did he ask the Jews, “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you read what’s in the Bible?” Yeshua knew that the deeper, more difficult problem of Jewish resistance to his message was in the hearts, not heads, of men. Faith in God or the Messiah is never just a matter of Bible knowledge. There must always be a willing spirit to submit and obey, and in this matter,  Gentiles are no more able than Jews. Yeshua understood this well, and for this reason he has endless compassion for his people (He wept over Jerusalem). Indeed, it was to change our hearts that the Messiah came in the first place.

Why does it surprise us that anyone, Jew or Gentile, finds it difficult to believe in Yeshua? Do we think that the Jewish people are somehow unable to see what Christians so clearly see in the Bible? From my experience, Jews are no more ignorant than Christians in their Bible knowledge. In fact, Jewish people are often more knowledgeable, particularly concerning the Hebrew scriptures. Perhaps the question we should be asking ourselves is why we are not more compassionate and patient towards those who cannot see clearly because of the spiritual darkness that has hidden the Gospel truth from their hearts?


The Devil’s in it

“The god of this world has blinded their minds from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Messiah” (II Cor. 4:4).

We should not ignore the fact that there is also a spiritual reason for the blindness of people toward the Gospel. I believe that it is one of the enemy’s main goals to destroy the Jewish people. The people of Israel who were chosen since the times of Abraham to be a light to the nations and spread the biblical message to the ends of the earth are a principle target of all powers and authorities that resist the Gospel. And let’s not forget that even “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).


A mysterious veil

The Bible says that there is a veil over the eyes of the Jewish people when they read the scriptures (II Cor 3:14). That spiritual blindness now making it difficult for Israel to receive her Messiah is called a mystery in Scripture and seems to be a phenomenon unique to the Jewish people. The fact that Israel’s hardening opened the door for the Gospel to come to the nations is yet another reason to have compassionate consideration with the Jewish people in their difficulty in recognizing Yeshua. Certainly, there can be no place for impatience and needless blame toward Israel’s resistance to the Gospel.

However, the enemies of the Gospel use this spiritual blindness to call into question the plan of salvation for Israel and to the whole world. The spiritual veil that makes it difficult (not impossible) for the Jewish people to recognize their Messiah is wrongly used as an excuse to undermine the faithfulness of God to fulfill his future promises and the trustworthiness of the Bible. This demonic lie must be resisted and in its place the mysterious and wonderful ways of God and his faithfulness with Israel should generate an overflow of love and care for the Jewish people.


Who’s to blame?

We cannot ignore the fact that much of Israel’s resistance to the Gospel has been caused by Jewish suffering at the hands of Christians over the centuries. It is outside the scope of this breif essay to go into detail regarding the trouble antisemitism in the Church has heaped upon the Jewish people and the complications this causes in presenting an authentic demonstration of the Gospel. Suffice it to say that until a bridge is built over the troubled waters that separate the Church and Synagogue, no significant number of Jewish people could even consider that he is the Messiah. There must be a real demonstration of the true face of Yeshua and his true feelings toward the Jewish people,

Christians need to understand that more often than not Jewish people see the few Jews who do follow Yeshua as traitors to their family, their people and the Jewish nation. We are seen as deserters and a threat to the survival of the Jewish nation, and that is a difficult mountain to move given the deeply ingrained survival instincts of the people of Israel.

Although the young generation of Messianic Jews in Israel are working hard to change this unfortunate perception, there is still a long way to go before Israel and the Jewish people will be able to trust that Yeshua and the Gospel are not their enemy and have not come to destroy, rather to fulfill their Jewish hopes and dreams.

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