It’s a very popular question. Why don’t Jews believe Jesus was the Messiah? Aren’t the proofs convincing?
This is a sensitive issue, and it is hoped that no one will be offended by the candid answer provided here.
We do not believe that it is prophesied that the Messiah will be crucified. We do not believe that the Messiah will be the son of G-d. We do not believe that he will be raised from the dead any more than anyone else. We do not believe that he will appear twice, in what some Christians call a second coming. We do not believe that the Messiah will be our “savior” in the sense that he will redeem us from our sins.
These are all fascinating claims to make concerning anyone, but they are all irrelevant to the Messiah for whom the Jews have awaited these three thousand years. None of these things are prophesied in the Jewish Bible.
What then is this Messiah for whom we wait? The Messiah will be a mortal man, born of a normal man and woman.He will be a man very learned in all sections of the Torah, and he will be a very righteous man. He will be of the undisputed scion of David through his father. He will become uncontested ruler in the Land of Israel over all the People of Israel, that is, all Twelve Tribes of Israel. He will have at least one son, who will be king after the Messiah dies a normal death at an advanced age.
He will be as described by the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 11:2-4): “full of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and the fear of G-d . . . he will smite the tyrant with the rod of his mouth, and slay the wicked with the breath of his lips . . .” (Maimonides explains this last as merely a parable, and not to be taken literally.)
Still, the Messiah will primarily be a prince of peace. As it says (Isaiah 52:7) “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace.”
The Messiah will bring an end to all suffering and war. He will rescue the Children of Israel from exile. He will teach the world how to revere truth, and they will all return to G-d (though not necessarily to Judaism). All forms of warfare will be abolished.
The Torah will be strengthened by the teachings and practices of the Messiah. It will not be weakened nor changed in the slightest.
The Jews will no longer be subjugated nor oppressed by other nations. (In fact, there will be no oppression or subjugation anywhere in the world, by anyone against anyone.) The Jews will be free in the Land of Israel. We will have the Holy Temple once again. We will have the full body of the Law restored by the full Sanhedrin and all lesser courts. And the Messiah will do all this on his first try. Indeed, this is how we will know he is the Messiah.
These are the main prophecies that the Torah tells us concerning the Messiah. The man who causes these to happen will be the Messiah. Since these have not happened, the Messiah, the one foretold by the Torah, has not yet come.
It will be through these signs that he will be recognized. It will not be through miracles, nor through resurrection of the dead, nor through any new creation. It will be through the total rescue we will undergo (as described in brief above) that we will know the Messiah.
And in truth, we await the Redemption more than we await the Messiah. The Messiah will be G-d’s messenger and vehicle for that Redemption.
And that is a very important point. We await our rescue from exile and an end to all human suffering in this world. The Messiah’s purpose is not to make it possible for us to go to Heaven. The Torah teaches us how to do that already.
The man the Christians worship may have been a good person, and he may have taught many good things. (Although I hasten to point out that there are many teachings in the Christian Bible that are completely unacceptable to Orthodox Jews, and incompatible to the teachings of the Torah.) But he was not the Messiah for whom we await and have long awaited. He may have been crucified, and that’s a horrible thing. But that merely proves to us that he was
not the Messiah.
He was not the son of G-d any more than we all are; precisely no more or less. The very thought is repugnant to a Jewish person. G-d having a son in that manner? We shudder at the suggestion.
Nor do we believe he was resurrected. But even if he was, that would not make him the Messiah.
All this that is claimed about Jesus is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the Messiah. There will indeed be a resurrection, but not at the time of the Messiah’s coming. That will be later.
The Jewish faith has no place for most of the Christian Messiah beliefs. Nor is there any way to reconcile Jesus with the Jewish concept of the Messiah. The two concepts have very little in common.
We still await the Messiah, and our faith is still strong.
(I have said this in a number of places, and I will say it here again: If I get any e-mail letters from people trying to convince me that Jesus was the Messiah, I will respond without being sensitive to the writer’s feelings, and I will not worry about being offensive. I will say exactly what I feel, and you will not appreciate my candid response. Judaism does not tolerate proselytizing. We don’t do it to you, so have the decency not to do it to us.)