7. Why is it so difficult for Jewish people to believe in Jesus as the Messiah?

7.  Why is it so difficult for Jewish people to believe in Jesus as the Messiah?

First, let me say, this is not unique to Jewish people.  At the Center, we witness to anyone God brings across our path.  Many of these individuals are not Jewish and we find that difficulties exist with  them also.  But, when thinking about Jewish people, I believe there are two main reasons for the difficulties.

A.  Misunderstandings

There are several areas of misunderstanding that revolve around the person of the Messiah Jesus.  The first major misunderstanding is this: the average Jewish person believes that it is impossible for a Jewish person to believe in Jesus and still be Jewish.  Most believe this simply because that’s what they’ve been told.  Or, they think that only Gentiles believe in Jesus and if a Jewish person would believe in Jesus, then they have converted and become a Gentile.  How can we help to clear up this misunderstanding in the minds of our Jewish friends?  I use Paul as an illustration of a Jewish person who became a follower of Jesus as Messiah, but was still Jewish.

Rom. 9:3-4 – “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsman 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.”

These verses clearly demonstrate that Paul did not lose his being Jewish after he became a believer in Jesus.  Most Jewish believers I know learn to appreciate their heritage more after their salvation.  The second major misunderstanding is: the average Jewish person believes that all Gentiles are Christians.   We know this is not true, but to the Jewish mind, they are one and the same.  They use “Gentile” and “Christian” as synonyms.  This is devastating, because they conclude that Hitler and all the others who persecuted the Jewish people in the name of Christ were Christians.  We need to help them distinguish between the two groups.  Actually true believers should have an appreciation for the Jewish people, because they realize God’s special plan for them.

B.  Fear

This is the second major difficulty.  Jewish people are afraid of the reactions they will receive from relatives and the Jewish community as a whole if they were to become followers of Jesus as Messiah. Almost every Jewish person goes through this when they seriously consider becoming a believer.  This was very common during the ministry of Jesus.

John 19:38 – “And after these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus;…”

John 9:22 – “His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed, that if anyone should confess Him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.”

John 7:12-13 – “And there was much grumbling among the multitudes concerning Him;… Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews.”

This is true to this very day.  Fear is probably the major hindrance that has to be dealt with when witnessing to a Jewish person who begins to show some interest in becoming a believer in Jesus.