Why Did the Jews Look Forward to the Coming of the Messiah but Resist Him When He Really Came
Two thousand years ago, thewas incarnated and nailed to the cross, completing the work of redeeming mankind. Obviously, the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah whom the Jews had yearned for. But why did they resist Him when He came?
Outwardly, the Lord Jesus’ work didn’t conform to the biblical prophecies
Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder.” Micah 5:2 says, “But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall he come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel.”
Based on these verses of Scripture, the Jews concluded that the coming One should be called Messiah and be born of a virgin in Bethlehem. And He would be like David, brave and skillful in battle, and would save them from Roman rule. However, the truth is that what the Lord Jesus did was not in line with the Pharisees’ imaginations, and what they saw did not match up with the Bible’s prophecies according to their literal meaning. In the Bible, it was prophesied that the coming Messiah would be born of a virgin, but in reality the Pharisees saw that the Lord Jesus had parents. The prophecies said that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, but as the Pharisees saw it, the Lord Jesus was a Nazarene. They said that a prophet had never risen out of Galilee before, as it was recorded in John 7:52, “Are you also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee rises no prophet.” And also, the Bible prophesied that the coming One would be called Emmanuel, but when He came His name was Jesus. According to the biblical prophecy, the coming Messiah would come to assume power, but not only did the Lord Jesus not assume power, He also suffered persecution from the Pharisees. And as they believed, since He would come to assume power, He must look like a king in appearance, but the Lord Jesus just appeared like an ordinary man. … Therefore, the Jews thought that the Lord Jesus couldn’t be the coming Messiah, and at last, they nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross with the words of the Bible.
Relying on their notions and imaginations, the Pharisees defined God and rejected the coming Messiah.
says, “Do you wish to know the root of why the Pharisees opposed Jesus? Do you wish to know the substance of the Pharisees? They were full of fantasies about the Messiah. What’s more, they believed only that the Messiah would come, yet did not seek the truth of life. … They opposed Jesus because they did not know the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work, because they did not know the way of truth spoken by Jesus, and, furthermore, because they did not understand the Messiah. And since they had never seen the Messiah, and had never been in the company of the Messiah, they made the mistake of paying empty tribute to the name of the Messiah while opposing the substance of the Messiah by any means. These Pharisees in substance were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God is: No matter how profound Your preaching, no matter how high Your authority, You are not unless You are called the Messiah. Are these views not preposterous and ridiculous?”
As for the root of why the Jews did not acknowledge the Lord Jesus as the Messiah but even resisted and convicted Him, this passage of words exposes it very clearly. It is because they relied on their own notions and imaginations as well as the literal meaning of the prophecies to define God. In their opinion, the One who was to come could only be called Messiah; He must be born of a virgin and born nowhere but in Bethlehem; He must be as valorous as David and would help them to break away from the rule of the Romans. So when the Lord Jesus came to do His work and then what they saw all went against their notions and imaginations, they rigidly held to the name of Messiah and the biblical prophecies, not acknowledging that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah. As a matter of fact, though the Lord Jesus had parents outwardly, He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. As it is recorded in Matthew 1:18-23, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
At that time, the Lord Jesus’ work shocked all of Judea, and each of His words carried authority. For example, He rebuked the wind and sea, and then they became calm at once; He raised the dead with words; He fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, and there was extra. All of these that the Lord performed are the expression of God’s essence. The Lord’s words can supply man’s life, show man the way to practice, teach man how to live or get along with each other, and so on. Just as the Lord Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14: 6). The Lord Jesus gave the truth to man and made the Jews behold His deeds. Whoever has a sliver of a seeking and devout heart can easily discover that the Lord Jesus is God Himself and was the coming Messiah. However, the Jews did not at all seek the substance of the Messiah prophesied in the Bible, but only held on to their own notions and imaginations to define Him. So no matter how authoritative and powerful the Lord’s word was, the Jews didn’t recognize His essence or accept Him as the Messiah. They just rigidly held to the name of Messiah as well as the words of the biblical prophecies and blindly relied on their arrogant disposition to deny the word and work of the Lord Jesus and that He is God Himself. And the top leaders of Judaism even went as far as to judge and blaspheme against the Lord Jesus, saying that He cast out demons through Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons, and that He spoke words of blasphemy. As for most of the Jewish people, because of their blind credence in and adoration of those leaders, they blindly listened to them and followed them to deny and condemn the Lord. Finally, they chose to set free the murderer Barabbas instead of the Lord Jesus, the coming Messiah for whom they had been bitterly waiting for, for so many years. They crucified the Lord Jesus, offending God and being cursed by Him.
Though the Jews looked forward to the arrival of the Messiah, they had never seen Him. They just got some information of His coming from the Old Testament of the Bible, yet they didn’t know the essence of the Messiah, nor did they understand the true meaning of the biblical prophecies. They just relied on their notions and imaginations to define God. Moreover, they didn’t have a heart to seek the truth when the appearance and work of the Lord Jesus didn’t match their notions. In the end, they became those who longed for the Messiah but resisted Him.
It is thus clear that if we just hold on to the words of the biblical prophecies but do not know God or have a heart of seeking the truth, we will easily resist God. I remember the verses, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). “Not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). The prophecies from the apostles and prophets cannot be arbitrarily interpreted or defined by us relying on our minds. Only when God Himself came to fulfill them can we understand them. Therefore, we should not rely on our own minds to define God or His work.
To welcome the Lord’s return, what should we do to avoid walking the path of the Jews resisting the Messiah.
When we have known the root of why the Jews looked forward to the coming Messiah but resisted Him, lots of people can’t help thinking: The Lord Jesus prophesied that He would return in. If He changes His name, so that He is no longer called Jesus, but some other name, and if His work doesn’t match our notions either, will we arrogantly hold on to our imaginations like the Jews did, not seeking or investigating the work of the Lord’s return but condemning it? And in welcoming the return of the Lord, what should we do to avoid walking the same path of the Jews resisting the Messiah?
In regard to the matter of the Lord’s return, we should remain vigilant at all times and take warning from the failure of the Jews in their belief in God. If we hear someone preach to us the Lord’s second coming, regardless of how much it is not in accordance with our notions, we must not arbitrarily conclude relying on our notions and imaginations as well as the words of the Bible. But instead, we should pray more to seek. As long as we keep living in God’s presence with a humble and seeking attitude, we will surely be able to welcome the Lord’s second coming and avoid walking the Jews’ path of believing in God but resisting Him.