Religious Dogma / Rethinking Christianity

Was Jesus Really the Jewish Messiah?

Judaism and Christianity by John Singer Sargent

Judaism and Christianity by John Singer Sargent (Photo credit: Context Travel)

Christians believe that Jesus was the messiah promised by God to the Hebrew people. Because of being denied by his chosen people, as a sort of “well take that then”, salvation was offered to the gentiles.

Judaism does not recognize Jesus as the coming messiah. According to Jewish scriptures the messiah will be a fully human being (not supernatural in any way) descended from the line of King David. He will know and be obedient to the commandments of Jewish religious laws. He will be an inspiring and charismatic leader who makes righteous decisions. He will be a great political leader who will command great military leadership and win battles for Israel. Based on their scriptures the messiah must meet the following criteria:

  • He must rid the Jews of the Roman rule of occupation and oppression.
  • He must restore Jerusalem and cause it to be the center of world government.
  • He must restore the political and spiritual prominence of Israel by reuniting all the Jews who had been scattered throughout the world back into a sovereign nation.
  • He will rebuild the temple and restore sacrifice and worship.
  • He will reestablish the Jewish courts and cause the rule of Jewish religious law as the law of the land.
  • He will cause all people to know that the Jewish religion is the only religion.

At the time he lived, Jesus did not meet the prophecies of the scriptures; therefore he was not accepted as the coming messiah. But have those prophecies since been fulfilled?

I think it can be said that Jesus met some of these requirements.  It seems obvious that Jesus was an inspiring, influential and charismatic leader who motivated people, later even nations, to follow him. He was a competent judge who made righteous decisions. He was knowingly well-versed in Jewish religious law and abided by the commandments of same. By Rome establishing Christianity as the state religion, the roman oppression against the Jews diminished. The establishment of Israel as a nation which allowed scattered Jews to return to their homeland was greatly affected by leaders of Christian nations. Although Jerusalem is not the center of world rule, it is recognized as the Holy City, birthplace of the rule of Abrahamic religions, of which Jewish religious law has some reverence. The military operations of predominately Christian nations support and protect Israel.  Jesus certainly had something to do with all of the above.

What hasn’t been fulfilled is the rebuilding of the temple, the restoration of Jewish courts and a governing world religion based on Jewish religious law, and of course, according to Christians Jesus was a supernatural demi-god, not the mortal man Jews will expect to become the messiah.

Does the role that Jesus played in the history of Israel’s return to a nation make him the messiah? It will remain a matter of opinion. But the life and death of Jesus has greatly benefited the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, more so than any other person at any other time in modern history.

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12 thoughts on “Was Jesus Really the Jewish Messiah?

  1. For Christians who believe in the Virgin Birth, Jesus does not fulfill the requirement of being descended from King David since it would have been from Joseph (his father, but not biological father) that that descent would have been made possible.

    • This post came about following a conversation I had with a jewish friend discussing “The Bible” miniseries. He explained to me why the jewish people did not and will not ever accept Jesus as the messiah. It started me thinking about how even if Jesus was not the messiah his life and ministry has certainly been beneficial for Israel.
      The point you made is one that I wish I had included in the post because it carries weight and supports the demigod status of Jesus for exclusion. Funny, how little details such as those are overlooked by christian doctrines.

      • It boggles the mind that Christianity would accept as a messiah a person who did not fulfill Jewish Law and prophecy. Obviously, Jesus did not fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah in the Old Testament (see your list above) since the Jewish people never accepted him. The Israelites did consider King David, among others, to be a messiah however. Strangely enough, the only real reason for the inclusion of the Old Testament in the Christian Bible was that prophecy concerning the coming of the messiah. By the way, the thought of a spiritual messiah was unthinkable to the Israelites.

  2. The messiah and God attributions of Jesus were given after his death, as a way of pepetuating the movement that he had started, which was basically a good one. The messiah wasn’t supposed to die before liberating the Holy Land, so the story was mooted about that he arose from the dead. And if he wasn’t the messiah, then perhaps he was really God Incarnate. That finally became the story with the Council of Nicea in the fourth century.
    The story of Jesus has changed so much over the centuries that there had to be many contradictions. And thus, a good prophet’s efforts to improve the behavior and understanding of his people was transformed into a fantasy that mightily distracts from his message.

  3. You wrote: “Christians believe that Jesus was the messiah promised by God to the Hebrew people. Because of being denied by his chosen people, as a sort of “well take that then”, salvation was offered to the gentiles.”

    Do you know the real reason salvation was offered to the Gentiles? It was because of Paul and his hokey vision of Jesus, plus his involvement (and possible membership in) the Mystery Religions. I wrote extensively on this in my book (Things I Never Learned in Sunday School), but an excellent source on the subject is “The Jesus Mysteries” by Freke and Gandy.

    If I were a believer, I would tend to adhere to the Jewish outlook based on what the Bible says. Of course, I’m not holding my breath that such a messiah will ever manifest.

    • After reading the gnostic gospels and dead sea scroll texts I decided to re-read the bible with an unbiased eye. It was clear to me that there was a differece in what Jesus taught and what Paul taught. From there I began researching other ancient texts and the history of christianity. My whole understanding changed.
      Is there a link to your book?

      • All one has to do is read Paul’s letters to see that there was a difference in teachings. Paul was in direct conflict with the very people, the Jerusalem Church which was headed by James (the brother of Jesus), who sent him on his mission.

      • The book is available at Amazon in both ebook and paper format. You can “look inside” to get more information, and you can also visit escapefromreligion.wordpress.com to read excerpts.

        It seems we are coming from the same place as it was my own research of ancient texts and the history of Christianity that prompted me to write this book. I think you will enjoy it. Thanks for asking.

      • You are right. Like Nan says in her book these are aspects of historical christianity that are not taught in many churches. In my experience, Evangelicals in particular teach the belief that Jesus selected his apostles, who selected their successors, and God himself has chosen the pastor in the pulpit. They are taught to believe whatever the preacher tells them is true and to not question how he interprets the scriptures unless they are offensive to God. I was one of those who did not realize that Paul and Jesus differed or even that Rome had anything to do with establishing Christianity until I had shaken away the influence of church doctrine.

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