What do you mean Jesus was a Jew?
I thought he was meant to be a Christian
“Wait a second… what do you mean Jesus was a Jew?” I’ve actually lost count of the number of times I’ve heard this question, so I thought I’d give a quick explanation for all those who were secretly wondering the same thing but were too afraid to ask!
There’s Jewish and there's Jewish.
Jesus was Jewish. That is, he was an Israelite, born and bread in first century Palestine. But he was also religiously Jewish… just not in the sense that you might think! Here’s what I mean:
All through the Jewish Bible, God constantly promised his people that he would send them a Saviour-King, or in Hebrew- a Messiah. According to the Jewish Bible ,when the Messiah came he would deliver God’s people from their enemies and bring about the arrival of God’s Kingdom. Now all throughout history the Jews have been desperately waiting for God’s Messiah to arrive. The only problem was that when Jesus showed up in the first century claiming to be the one they’d all been waiting for, only some of them were convinced. That’s where Christianity comes in.
Christians are basically Jews who think that Jesus was the Messiah. The first Christians were all Jewish. And the first church was actually the Jerusalem Temple! It wasn’t until the non-Jesus-believing Jews kicked the Christians out of the Temple that they were forced to find another name and another place to meet.
It was also for this reason that the apostle Paul went straight to the Jewish Synagogues (kind of like regional Jewish Churches) on his missionary journeys. It was the obvious place to start because he could tell them that the Messiah they’d all been waiting for had finally arrived! It’s also the reason that what Jews call the Bible, Christians call the Old Testament. Christians believe that when Jesus came he fulfilled the Old Testament.
So what about the Jews? They’re still waiting for the Messiah. Want some proof that Jesus is the one they are waiting for?
Below are some of the prophecies that the Jewish Bible makes about the Messiah together with their corresponding fulfillment in Jesus (check these out in your Bible, and hop over to biblegateway.com).
1 Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7: 14 cf. Matthew 1:18)
2. Descendant of Abraham (Genesis 22:18 cf. Matthew 1:1
3. Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2 cf. Luke 2:1-7)
4. Prophesied by the forerunner John the Baptist (Malachi 3:1 cf. John 1:19-52)
5. Rejected by his own people (Isaiah 53 cf. John 1)
6. Presented as a king riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9 cf. Luke 19:35-37)
7. Betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9 cf. Matthew 26:50)
8. Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12 cf. Matthew 26:15)
9. Crucified (Psalm 22:16 cf. Luke 23:33) Note: crucifixion didn’t exist until hundreds of years after Psalms was written
10. Crucified with thieves (Isaiah 53:12 cf. Matthew 27:38)
11. Forsaken by God (Psalm 22:1 cf. Matthew 27:46)
12. Lots cast for His clothing (Psalm 22:18 cf. John 19:23)
13. Buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9 cf. Matthew 27:57)
14. Resurrected and Exalted (Psalm 16:10 cf. Acts 2:25-32)
15. Ascended into Heaven (Psalm 68:18 cf. Acts 1:8)
Some Jews today do realise Jesus was the Messiah and are turning to him. Tragically (and i do mean tragically), I think others will be waiting a long time.