24. What are some of the mistaken concepts that Jewish people have about Jesus and other Biblical truths?
Before I begin, I want to point out that Jewish people do not have the corner on the market as far as mistaken concepts. All unsaved people have wrong ideas that do not match up with the Scriptures. And the Scriptures are the standard for truth. Also, it is helpful to realize that when witnessing to anyone unsaved, it’s helpful to learn what some of their mistaken concepts are. It will help us to know what truths need to be emphasized.
A. Jesus never claimed that He was the Messiah or God
This is a very common belief among Jewish people and most of them believe this simply because this is what they have been told. However, Scripture is very clear on this point. Jesus did claim to be the Messiah and He did teach that He was God.
John 4:19-26 – The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming He who is called Christ; when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
These verses of course are talking about the time when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well. Notice where she said that she perceived that Jesus was a prophet. Even today, this is very common. Jewish people will say of Jesus that he was a good man, a teacher and a prophet, but not the promised Messiah of God. Note very carefully at the end of the passage that Jesus clearly tells the Samaritan woman that He is the Messiah. The very one who was speaking to her was the one promised in the Old Testament. Not only did Jesus declare that He was the promised Messiah, But He also clearly taught that He was God. As you could well imagine, this got several of His listeners irate.
John 10:22-33 – At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews therefore gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” The Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”
Notice the end of the passage. Without question, Jesus clearly taught that He was God. Was He wrong? Was he mistaken? We know that He wasn’t. So, when someone says that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah, or God, we have some clear teaching that says differently. Because this is such a common misconception, these verses will be handy for you to know.
B. Nobody who is really deep into their Judaism, would ever become a believer in Jesus
In other words, those people from a Jewish background who do become followers of Jesus, were never very Jewish to begin with. Had they been, they never would have become believers. Is this true? Are there examples of people from a very committed Jewish background that became believers in Jesus? Yes, most definitely. One prime example is Saul of Tarsus, or better known as the Apostle Paul.
Gal. 1:13-14 – For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
Acts 26:5 – since they have known about me for a long time previously, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.
Acts 22:3 – “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, just as you all are today.
Phil. 3:4-6 – although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
As you can clearly see, Saul of Tarsus was very committed in his lifestyle as a Jewish person, and he became one of the premiere Apostles of Jesus the Messiah. Not only did Saul of Tarsus become a follower of Jesus, but there were other Pharisees who became believers in Jesus as well.
Acts 15:4-6 – And when they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But certain ones of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed, stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.” And the apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter.
Notice, at this early church council, it is mentioned that some of the ones of the sect of the Pharisees believed. Who were the Pharisees? They were a sect of the Jews who were known for their rigid adherence to the law. The name “Pharisee” means “separated ones.” They were very zealous for their beliefs and were very dedicated to what they believed. You will remember that Nicodemus who visited Jesus by night was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin which was the main ruling body of the Jews. Most believe that Nicodemus did become a follower of Jesus as Messiah. Yes, there are examples of very religious Jewish people who became followers of Jesus. So the argument that those who do become believers in Jesus were not very Jewish to begin with just doesn’t hold up.
C. You can’t be Jewish and be a believer in Jesus at the same time
This is pretty much believed across the board among Jewish people. For the most part, Jewish people believe this simply because that’s what they have been told by their Rabbi. Some might conclude that it shouldn’t really be a difficult thing for a Jewish person to become a follower of Jesus since He Himself is Jewish. However, because of the multitude of mistaken concepts and hurdles that Jewish people face concerning believing in Jesus, it’s not as easy or natural as some might assume. What can we say to a Jewish person who believes this? One place to start, is by showing them that there are examples in the Bible of Jewish people who believed in Jesus and still considered themselves Jewish. One prime example is the Apostle Paul. The verses that were given in last months letter would be excellent to show them about Paul’s life as a Jewish person, but these verses describe Paul after he was a believer in Jesus.
Rom. 9:3-4 – For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites,
Rom. 11:1 – I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2 Cor. 11:22 – are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.
Notice carefully that these verses refer to Paul after he was a believer in Jesus. If they argue that they are in the New Testament and that they don’t believe in it. We need to point out that there is no other way to prove that one can be Jewish and believe in Jesus except by using the New Testament. While discussing these verses, it is also helpful the continue to point out that Jesus was Jewish and on what basis does a Jewish person who becomes a follower of Jesus become non-Jewish. Ask them, Does a Gentile become Jewish if they become a believer in Jesus? Of course the answer is no. Then why would a Jewish person loose their being Jewish if they become a follower of Jesus?
D. Jesus can’t be the Messiah, because there is no real peace through out the world.
This is one of the most common arguments that Jewish people use to try to prove that Jesus is not the Messiah. In fact, for the average Jewish person, the concept of the Messiah bringing peace is about all they know about the subject. They do believe that when the Messiah comes, there will be peace. And as a matter of fact they are right. I should point out, that many Jewish people have moved away from the concept of a personal Messiah and are simply waiting for a Messianic era, a time of peace, instead of a person who will bring peace. The Bible does say that the Messiah is going to bring peace. However, the peace that Jesus brought is not the peace that the Jewish people expected. They were looking for someone to deliver them from the Roman oppression. This, however, was not the peace that Jesus made possible at His first coming. The Scriptures clearly state that Jesus brought peace and in fact this peace is vitally important for everyone to experience.
Luke 2:14 – “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
Jesus said that at His first coming, He did not come to bring peace on earth.
Luke 12:51 – “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division;
He came to provide an even more important peace. A peace between man and God. This is what salvation is all about. There is a battle going on between unsaved man and Holy God. This battle comes to an end and peace is established.
Rom. 5:1 – Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Col. 1:20 – and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
This is the primary peace that Jesus came to establish at His first coming, peace with God. When He comes again, He will establish peace on earth. We need to tell our Jewish friends that the Messiah has come and that He brought peace with Him. A peace that ends the war between themselves and God. Do you have this peace? It is needed by all.
E. I’m a pretty good person. I do a lot of mitzvahs (good deeds).
This is one of the most common beliefs among Jewish people. First of all, for some who may not know what a “mitzvah” is, it’s a good deed. This is how Jewish people believe one gets to heaven, not unlike Gentiles. There are of course several problems with this belief. One who believes you can get to heaven by mitzvahs or good deeds doesn’t understand God’s standard of holiness.
Lev. 20:26 – ‘Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.
Deut. 18:13 – “You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.
God’s standard is simply too high. Even though one may say of themselves, “I’m really not all that bad. When I compare myself to some who are on the news, I really am pretty good.” That’s their perspective, God has another.
Ps. 14:2-3 – The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.
Eccl. 7:20 – Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.
Is. 64:6 – For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
One who doesn’t see himself as God does, always passes the test. But, neither we, nor other humans are the ones from whom we are to seek approval. There are 2 crucial verses in Romans that speak to this issue. Notice, Paul uses 3 very important words in vs. 20, “in His sight.”
Rom. 3:19-20 – Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Approval or justification in man’s eyes means nothing at all. It is what God thinks about us that matters. To think that we are pretty good and even if others think the same, is totally immaterial. The question is, “What does God think?” The Bible teaches that no one will get to heaven by doing mitzvahs. We simply can’t be good enough to be accepted by God as a result of our own achievements. Thank God, He did provide a way whereby sinful man can be accepted by Him. It’s by the work of His Son Jesus, not by our works.
F. I don’t need to believe in Jesus. I go straight to God.
For the most part, Jewish people don’t think that they need a mediator. They believe that they can just believe in God and go to Him, without going through anyone else. However, as one reads the Old Testament, it should be clear that the Jewish people always had a go- between. Moses was a mediator for the people of Israel. This is illustrated for us in the book of Numbers.
Num. 21:4-7 – Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. And the people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people.
Notice, that after the people realized they sinned, they asked Moses to intercede for them. They didn’t go straight to God themselves. We also see this was true during the days of Samuel.
1 Sam. 12:19 – Then all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king.”
Israel of old lived under the truth that there must be a mediator between man and God. That was one of the major functions of the priesthood. For a Jewish person to go straight to God, without going through a priest was unthinkable. Today, Jesus is the one mediator between man and God.
1 Tim. 2:5 – For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
And since all true believers are priests, we are able to enter into the very presence of God. The high priest was only able to enter into the Holy of Holies once a year and that with his life at stake. Believers, on the other hand have the privilege to enter God’s presence at anytime. But, we must enter by way of Jesus the Messiah. Not going to God through Jesus has tremendous negative ramifications. To bypass the Son is to bypass God. We must go through Jesus and Him alone.
1 John 2:23 – Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
1 John 4:15 – Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
1 John 5:12 – He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
G. All Gentiles are Christians and Christians are the ones who persecuted the Jewish people.
This is a very common mistake that Jewish people make. They believe for the most part that if you are not Jewish or a Muslim, then you are a Christian. It is very important that we help them understand that this is not so. Because they believe this, they lump people like Hitler in the same boat as those who are true believers. In one of the Jewish newspapers that we receive at the Center, I came across an article that points out this error. The writer was describing the community she lives in. “Big Bear is a predominantly Christian-oriented community. There are 20 Christian churches: Catholic, Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Mormon, Seventh-Day Adventist, Assembly of God, Four Square Gospel, Church of Christ, Jehovah’s Witness, First Church of Christ-Scientist, Christian Evangelical of America, Church of Religious Science, Believer’s Chapel, Calvary Chapel, two Community Churches and Y Not for Jesus Ministry.” As you can see from this article, everybody is mixed in together. As far as she is concerned they are all “Christians.” We need to help Jewish people distinguish Jesus Ministry.” As you can see from this article, everybody is mixed in together. As far as she is concerned they are all “Christians.” We need to help Jewish people distinguish between Gentiles and true Christians. You could very well understand the hesitancy of a Jewish person wanting to get saved when they think people like Hitler and the Nazis were “Christians.” The Scripture that I show them is found in I Corinthians 10:32.
1 Cor. 10:32 – Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God;
It clearly divides up the human race into three categories: Jews, Gentiles, and the Church. I explain that everyone is either a Jewish person or a Gentile, but not everyone is a member of the Church, the body of the Messiah Jesus. Only those who have placed faith in Jesus are members of His body. I explain to them that true believers should have favorable feelings towards God’s special people, Israel. After all, everything that we as believers have came through them. As I stated earlier, this is such an important point to keep in mind when dealing with a Jewish person. It is helpful for them to know that they need to distinguish between a person who is a Gentile from one who has been born again into the family of God.
H. I don’t worry about the hereafter, I worry about the here and now. When you die you die. Who knows what happens on the other side?
Because Judaism is a works-oriented religion, they can’t have absolute assurance about being in heaven when they die. That often leads to an “I really don’t care or think about it too much” attitude. They don’t sense the need to be prepared for the inevitable. Most Jewish people feel it will all be taken care of at that time. They believe that if they try to be a good person and are sincere in what they believe, then they are ok. In Judaism, there really isn’t a unified belief about the hereafter. For the Reformed Jewish person, (the least of the religious) death ends it all. One only lives on in the memories of those still alive. For the Orthodox and Conservative there are several different beliefs. But, there still is not any kind of emphasis or pressing need to be prepared for death and what follows. Here are some really good verses that you might use to show them that the Holy Scriptures clearly speak about the subject of an existing life after one physically passes away.
Job 19:26 – “Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God;
Is. 26:19 – Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.
Is. 66:24 – “Then they shall go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm shall not die, And their fire shall not be quenched; And they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind.”
Dan. 12:2 – “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
Pretty clear, aren’t they? I think most Jewish people would be surprised to read these verses and to see that they are in the Jewish Bible. We need to realize that death is something that most Jewish people try to keep in the back of their minds. What we need to lovingly do is try to bring it to the surface so they will realize that death is something for which they need to be prepared. The hope and assurance that a true believer should have is totally foreign to a Jewish person. Let them know that it is possible to know for sure that when death comes, we can know that we will be going to heaven instead of hell.