Why Jews Don't Accept Jesus:
A Look at History
By Louis Lapides
- When you look at Jesus and His relationship with the Jewish people
in the first century, the Jewish leaders didnt accept Him because of His
claims to deity. They did not believe the Messiah would be divine.
at His interpretation of the law, that He was weaving through the lines saying,
'Hey, you are into all the rituals, but you are forgetting some of the weightier
things, the love, the compassion, the justice. So what if you have clean cups.
What about the heart? That needs to be clean.'
He was saying some pretty rebuking
things to the Jewish community in the first century in telling them that they
needed to repent, they needed a Savior, they needed a Messiah. In the first
century it was pretty clear cut why they wouldnt accept Him.
On the other hand, Ive got to say, all of His followers initially were
Jewish. He had thousands of people by the time the apostles came along. Peter
preached on the Day of Pentecost. He had all of these Jewish people who were
Today people ask me the same question, 'Why aren't Jewish people accepting
My initial response is history, because in the name of Jesus, Jews
have been persecuted. In the name of Jesus, weve seen the Inquisition,
weve seen the Crusades, we have read from church fathers anti-Jewish,
anti-Semitic statements in the name of Jesus. So, the response today is why
would I want to believe in Jesus?
In the name of Jesus there has been so much
persecution. And, of course, theres recognition today, especially on
the part of some of the popes of Vatican II, there have been a lot of changes
in relation to the Jewish people. Christianity has done a tremendous amount
of outreach telling Jewish people that we love them, that the things that
have happened in the past were not representative of Jesus. He did not teach
people to go out and slaughter and massacre in His name. Those are people
who twisted and distorted Christianity.
I think when the Gospel went out to Greece, went out to Rome and into the
gentile world, according to God's plan -- according to Acts 1:8, the Gospel
goes to Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the
earth -- you had a great influx of gentiles into the Church, so the Jewish
part of it started diminishing.
In 325 A.D., Constantine, who was the emperor of Rome, he made some very
deliberate decisions at the Council of Nicea to get rid of all Jewish elements
within Christianity. Gentile Christians were actually celebrating what we
know today as Easter, the death, burial, and Resurrection. They were celebrating
it by partaking of the Passover. Constantine got rid of that. He said, 'No
Christians shall keep the Passover.' In fact, he made sure that Passover and
Easter didn't ever fall on the same day so they wouldn't get confused.
The church kept taking this anti-Jewish perspective. We actually have documents
where a Jewish person accepting Jesus, this was in the Middle Ages, he or
she would have to sign a document saying, 'Upon my acceptance of Jesus, I
disavow all Jewish songs, all Jewish customs, foods, anything that has to
do with my Jewish heritage.' That was the requirement. If you accept Jesus,
you completely sever yourself from the Jewish roots and background.
Some Roman Catholic writers would say that the Greek culture and the Roman
culture already had a lot of anti-Jewish sentiment inherent in them, and they
brought it into the church.
Also, a lot of the gentile Christian theologians and church leaders couldn't
face the fact that Jewish people weren't coming in droves accepting the Lord.
It bothered them. If Jesus is the Messiah and the New Testament is the truth,
why aren't God's chosen people responding? So, they started coming up with
theories that Jewish people were demonic, that they were in cahoots with Satan,
they signed a covenant with Satan and Satan had blinded them. It started getting
bigger and bigger.
We have representations of medieval woodcuts of Jewish
people with horns, shown as demonic, Satan with a Jewish star or the Antichrist
with a Jewish Star. The Jewish people were painted as demonic.
In the Middle Ages, the morality plays, where they would reenact the last
week in the life of Jesus, the Jewish leaders, the Pharisees didn't look good
at all being involved in arresting Jesus and handing Him over to the Romans.
The common people would look at this and say, 'Look how terrible the Jewish
people are.' The Bible was kept out of the hands of people, so they couldn't
read it for themselves. They only heard what was said to them from the pulpit
in the Middle Age church. This was handed down to the people.
If a Jewish person accepted Jesus, he or she would be asked to sign a covenant
saying everything that was Jewish, you have nothing to do with. You are now
Christian. They would give them a Christian name. If it was Jacob, it is now
going to be Tom. That's where the Christian name came from. They said, 'You
will change your culture, you will change the food that you will eat.'
In the late '60s and into the1970s Jewish people were accepting Jesus in
droves. It was the Jesus Movement. Now you have all these Jewish people, a
lot of them are young, they are hippies, and professionals, who are accepting
Jesus who are saying, 'I'm not going to buy this. I am still Jewish. Jesus
is Jewish, the apostles are Jewish, the New Testament is Jewish. How do you
understand the book of Hebrews unless you have some Jewish background?'
revolution started happening among young Jewish people who were saying, 'We
still want to maintain our Jewishness, and we love Jesus as Lord, as our Savior,
as our Redeemer, as our Messiah. We want the whole thing. We want Christianity
and we want our Jewish identity.'
I was brought up to believe that, as a Jew, stay away from Jesus.
Jesus and people who follow Him are responsible for anti-Semitism.
My parents never went as far as saying that Hitler was a Christian,
but there were undertones that this is what Christianity has come
to, this is what Martin Luther started by some of his negative
statements about Jewish people. And it all just kept growing and
growing. Finally, the top blew during the Holocaust.
were well meaning, but I was taught to stay away from Christians,
that we have had enough trouble, so keep the boundaries, keep
Christianity's Jewish Roots on Spiritual Life
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