Why do most Jewish people not believe in Jesus? It would seem that the evidence in Scripture is so compelling that the Jewish people, the People of the Book, would see it.
Most or many Jewish people have not read the Bible carefully or studied the passages in the Hebrew Scriptures that speak of the Messiah. As the prophet Isaiah lamented long ago, “Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge . . .” (Isaiah 5:13). While it is true that some “have a zeal for God,” they remain a decided minority, and even these are “without knowledge” according to Romans 10:2.
Rarely is a Jewish person’s rejection of Jesus based on any theological or scriptural understanding. Rather, this disbelief rests on tradition bolstered by fear and prejudice. The past 1,900 years have done little to allay such fears or enlighten the prejudices of the Jewish community against Christianity. On the contrary, some dark episodes of history have tended to reinforce the worst of the Jewish community’s suspicions regarding Jesus and His followers.
Yet there remains an even more obvious fact that must shed light on this issue. It may best be stated in the form of a question: Why should statistics for the Jewish people be different from those of any other people? While Christians often forget it, those of us who truly follow the Savior remain a decided minority in the world. Despite some of the latest polls, bornagain believers in the United States do not comprise a moral majority but a holy minority. The fact that only some 40,000 out of the nearly 6,000,000 American Jews are for Jesus then follows reality more closely than some might care to admit.
For this reason, we in Jews for Jesus are not quite so amazed at the unbelief in the Jewish community. We wish that more Jews and more Gentiles were believers. We especially long to see more of our own people come to know the Savior as we have done.
In the course of our ministry we often identify with the words of our Lord as He was confronted with unbelief. Weeping in anguish, He cried out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37).
Jesus was not surprised by the rejection and unbelief of the Jewish leaders of His day. Not only was it predicted by the prophets before His coming, but it was also the culmination of ancient Israel’s long history of rejecting God’s messengers.
This attitude, however, was not unique to the Jewish people. Jesus understood that His own people were merely a microcosm of all humanity. Their response to Him was the same as what the whole world has said to God from the beginning of time. It was because of humanity’s rebellion against God that Jesus came. Because of that sinful mutiny against the Creator, Jesus went to the cross.
Perhaps this understanding may help to remove the shroud of mystery that surrounds the Jewish response to Jesus. Hopefully it will provide Christians with a better perspective on Jewish evangelism within the scope of Christ’s Great Commission to His holy minority, the Church. We covet the prayers and support of God’s people as we labor to bring more Jewish people to Jesus.