From Joanne, Hemel Hempstead, England
“All the way through the Old Testament, the Jews are awaiting the arrival of a Messiah. Then Jesus arrives, performs miracles, etc. and many Jews follow him. Why did the rabbis not accept Jesus as the one that they had been waiting for and advise their people to all follow him?”
Rabbi Tully Bryks responds:
You are correct that we have waited long and hard for the Mashiach (Messiah) to come. His coming is a basic tenet of Jewish faith! There are several reasons why we are still waiting and the vast majority of Jews never accepted Jesus as the Mashiach. Here are just a handful:
1. The Torah (Bible) and the Navi (Prophets) describe many rules for how to evaluate a prophet. One of the key rules for the Mashiach (and any prophet) is that he may not change any law of the Torah. Even if he changes just one law, regardless of how many miracles he may have performed, we are not allowed to follow him/her.
2. The prophecies describing the Mashiach state clearly that the Mashiach would bring the final redemption, including a utopian society with total peace for all people and even animals, wherein “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore” and “the lion will lie down with the lamb.” Unfortunately, the past two thousand years have been plagued by constant violence, war and even attempts at genocide.
3. Aside from bringing about world peace, the Mashiach will also bring about the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple). Yet the second Beit Hamikdash had not even been destroyed by the Romans until 35-40 years after they killed Jesus. So his arrival was a little too early for him to be considered the Mashiach.
4. Along those lines, the prophets go on to say that the Mashiach will gather all of the Jews back to the land of Israel. It took around 1,900 years since the death of Jesus for the Jews to finally have a state again in Israel. And even today, the majority of Jews still do not live in Israel.
5. The prophecies also state that when the Mashiach comes, “all of the nations will worship the one true God,” bringing unity to the world. However, not only do the nations still lack unity in their faith of God, there are thousands (perhaps millions) of people who believe in multiple Gods or no God at all!
6. The prophecies further state that when the Mashiach comes, prophecy will return. Today, the only people claiming to be prophets are typically the ones found in insane asylums.
7. The prophecies further state the Mashiach would be a direct descendant, on the father’s side, from King David. For those who believe that Jesus did not have a father, this would be impossible
There are many other reasons as well, although even one reason would be enough. That being said, it is important to note that the Jewish rejection of Jesus as the Mashiach is not a rejection of the Christian people. On the contrary, we believe that all people are the children of God, and we do not solicit converts. For more on this concept, please see my article on the Chosen Nation. For more on the Mashiach, please see my article on what will happen when the Mashiach comes.