The 10 Biggest Lies About Yeshua & His Jewishness
More Jewish People live in America than anywhere else in the world, with the possible exception of Israel. Yet efforts to reach the Jewish People with the Good News have not been very successful. Many Christians who have tried to share their faith with Jewish friends, coworkers, or family members have often been met with rejection.
It is important to state that I believe Jewish People have not rejected Jesus. They simply haven’t heard a Gospel message they can identify with or a biblically authentic representation of their Messiah.
Most have many misconceptions obscuring the true identity of Jesus—many of them derived from a 2,000-year legacy of misunderstanding about the Jewishness of Jesus. We’re going to look at just ten of the most significant lies about Jesus and His Jewishness that separate Him from His Jewish People.
Jesus Only Appears in the New Testament
A common argument is that Jesus is not found in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament—that He is a Christian or Gentile creation, only mentioned in the New Testament. True, the name “Jesus” is not found in the Old Testament, as it is an anglicized version of the Greek name Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous).
According to Matthew 1:21, the Hebrew name Yeshua was the given name for Jesus. He was born in Israel, among a Hebrew-speaking people who understood that His Name meant “salvation” or “God saves.” Matthew 1:21 says, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Many Bibles will contain this footnote: “Hebrew: Yeshua (Joshua), meaning The LORD saves.”
Biblical names commonly reveal the character, attributes, or destiny of a person. This is exactly the case with the name Yeshua—the reason for His existence is to save His People from their sins. Here are just a few examples:
The LORD is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. —Exodus 15:2
The Lord has made His salvation known . —Psalm 98:2
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. —Isaiah 49:6
In these verses—and more than 150 times throughout the Old Testament—the word salvation is the Hebrew word DREYI Yeshua (ye•shu•ah). He existed from the beginning, and His Hebrew Name is found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures in amazing prophecies.
The Jewish People Rejected Jesus as Their Messiah
Both Judaism and Christianity have promulgated the lie that the Jewish People rejected Jesus as their Messiah for almost 2,000 years. I was raised as a child in a Jewish home with the understanding that I was born a Jew, that I was to die a Jew, and anyone who wasn’t Jewish was a Christian or a Gentile. I also understood that Jewish identity meant one thing: Jews don’t believe in Jesus. But that is a lie—the Jews have not rejected Jesus.
However, the entire New Testament story took place in the Land of Israel—the Land of the Jews. Jesus was a Jew. He declared Himself the Messiah of Israel. All of His followers were Jews. The disciples were all Jews, as were the 120 in the Upper Room. The 3,000 that came to faith on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, or Pentecost, “grew to about 5,000,” according to Acts 4:4. So there is a record of thousands of Jewish Believers in the promised Messiah of Israel, and they took the Gospel around the world.
The Jews Killed Jesus
The grievous lie that the Jews killed Jesus and that God has cut them off irrevocably is the cornerstone of deception, causing a 2,000-year legacy of hatred, anti-Semitism, and persecution of Jewish People in the name of Christ and Christianity. This is the foundation of Replacement Theology, an erroneous doctrine claiming the Jews are under eternal punishment, and have been replaced by the Church.
It wasn’t the Jews as a whole who killed Jesus. There was a small group of Jewish leaders, in addition to a crowd that shouted, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” At the same time, however, thousands of Jews were followers of the Messiah!
The pinnacle of the Gospel is that Yeshua, Jesus, laid down His life for you and for me:
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” —Mark 10:45
“. . . I lay down My life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord.” —John 10:17-18
The accusation that the Jews killed Jesus is a lie and a gross distortion of Scripture—it wasn’t the Jews; it wasn’t the Romans—it was your sin and mine. Jesus came for the purpose of dying as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He allowed Himself to be led as a lamb to the slaughter and laid down His life for our sins. Praise Him, glory to Him!
Jesus Christ Is the God of Christianity
The lie that Jesus Christ is the God of Christianity is the concept I was raised with. For me, there were two groups of people in the world—Jews and Gentiles, or Christians (we generally perceived them to be the same). We had our God, the God of Israel, and Christians had their God, Jesus Christ, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Christ. And somehow this Jesus-God was a child who had become God.
I was also taught that Christians believe in three Gods: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This, too, is a deception and a stumbling block for Jews, who, even if not religious, know one thing: God is One.
The truth is, Jesus Christ is not the God of Christianity. He is Yeshua Ha’Mashiach—“Jesus the Messiah.” Christ is not His last name, but comes from the Greek word Christos, Χριστός (khrē-sto's), meaning “anointed,” from the Hebrew Mashiach, which is His title.
Hundreds of years before Yeshua was born, the prophet Jeremiah, in verses 31:1-14, tells of a new covenant (the meaning of New Testament) that would be made with the House of Israel and Judah. This covenant would be different from the Mosaic covenant. God would forgive our sins and remember them no more. How can that happen? Only by the shedding of blood—but not the yearly sacrifice—a once-for-all sacrifice! This is not the God of Christianity. This is a new covenant that is promised with a Covenant People, the People of Israel, and then spreads through the nations of the world. This is Yeshua the Messiah of Israel, foretold by the Jewish prophets. When Jewish People embrace Yeshua, they don’t convert to Christianity; they find their promised Messiah!
Jesus Began a New Religion Called Christianity
Another lie I want to dispel is the popular claim that Jesus came to earth and began a new religion. This is patently absurd. Yeshua’s entire earthly ministry was to His own People, the House of Israel. We can see this in an example found in Matthew 15. Yeshua had departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon, and a Canaanite woman came to Him saying, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus said nothing (Matthew 15:22-23). His disciples asked Him to send her away as she continued to cry out after them. Yeshua answered,“I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 15:24).
Not only was Yeshua’s earthly ministry dedicated solely to the House of Israel, but according to Matthew 10:5-6, when He sent His disciples out, He sent them only to the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel.
Was He bringing a new message? In Matthew 22, we find the account of Yeshua being put to the test by the Pharisees and Sadducees to see if His teaching was sound according to the Law, the Torah.
When the Pharisees found He had “silenced the Sadducees,” one of them who was a lawyer sought to test Him, asking Yeshua, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40).
Yeshua quoted the Shema: Shema, Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad—“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4)—the cornerstone of Jewish faith! Yeshua quoted from the Torah. So Yeshua affirmed the commandments. In fact, there was no religion known as Christianity until much later in Antioch.
Jesus Never Claimed to Be the Messiah
Many Jewish People believe that Jesus was a rabbi, a teacher, or even a prophet but never claimed to be the Messiah. They believe that it was His followers who deified Him and claimed He was the Messiah. This is totally false!
Let’s look at the testimony of Scripture to see Yeshua’s own claims. In John 8:58, Yeshua actually declares not only His pre-existence, but He takes upon Himself the Name of God as revealed to Moses in the burning bush: “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
And further, in Matthew 26:63-64, the High Priest directly confronts Yeshua, saying to Him, “I charge You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God.” And Yeshua responds: “You have said so,” affirming under oath that He is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. In Matthew 16:15-17, Yeshua also blessed Simon Peter for recognizing that He is the Messiah and acknowledged that it was God alone that gave that revelation.
So did Yeshua claim to be the Messiah? Yes, and more! He claimed to be the Messiah, the Lord, the Anointed One, and the unique Divine Son of the Living God, pre-existent, and one with the Father!
Jesus Taught Against the Law of Moses
Nearly two thousand years after He came, we have a Jesus who is nearly devoid of any Jewish identity, and a Church almost completely severed from its Jewish roots. Although it was never God’s intention, this started very early in Church history with a movement away from celebrating Shabbat, the Sabbath, and the other biblical Feasts, and calling these observances heretical. And so today we have a Jesus who is not recognizable to His own Jewish People as the Messiah of Israel.
This comes from the fallacy that Jesus taught against the Law of Moses, largely as a result of an overemphasis of being under the Age of Grace, the Church Age. However, Jesus never taught against the Law, the Torah. He followed the Law and He taught the Law—He redefined it or He taught how to rightly interpret it. He lived and died as an observant Jew in Israel.
Yet Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). Some believe that fulfill means “to bring to conclusion” or “complete,” but this is incorrect. In this context, it’s best understood by reversing the syllables: “fill full” or “bring fullness to.” If that isn’t clear enough, He goes on to declare: “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18).
This is crystal clear—Yeshua is not advocating the abrogation of even the minutest detail of the Law. If you read further in Matthew 5, verses 27 through the end, you will see that He even takes the Torah commandments further. He is fulfilling exactly what was prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah when He promised the new covenant: “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33).
Yeshua is saying that we are not under an external law, because we now have the law within—written on our minds and hearts by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, He calls us to even go beyond the written Law—do not even commit adultery or murder in your heart. Does this sound like Someone teaching against the Mosaic Law and the prophets? Absolutely not!
Jesus Did Not Fulfill the Messianic Prophecies Found in the Old Testament
The misconception that Jesus did not fulfill the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament is predominately held by Jewish People. The argument stems from several key Scriptures: Isaiah 11:1-9, Isaiah 2:3-4, and Micah 4:2-3.
In Isaiah 11:1-9, we see a beautiful picture of the Messiah, but not all has been fulfilled. We don’t see wolves lying down with lambs, nursing children playing at the cobra’s hole, or the earth full of the knowledge of the LORD. The verses in Micah, also clearly Messianic, tell of a universal peace that has not yet manifested. So the argument follows, if Jesus was the Messiah, why isn’t there world peace? Many Jewish People who are waiting expectantly for the Messiah are expecting a Messiah who will bring world peace.
Yet there are many Messianic prophecies that paint a different picture of the Messiah, such as Isaiah 53, which speaks of the Messiah coming as a suffering servant, who is led as lamb to the slaughter, taking our sorrows, infirmities, and punishment on Himself—in fact, pierced for our transgression—a clear depiction of the crucifixion! And then there is Daniel 9:24-27, which says that Messiah, the Anointed One, will be “cut off” or killed before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which happened in 70 A.D.
So how do we reconcile these contrasting pictures of a victorious Messiah, who would come to establish His rule of peace and righteousness over the earth, with this other picture of a suffering servant, a lamb, who is cut off but not for Himself? There was a belief among the rabbis that there were two Messiahs: Mashiach ben David, the Son of King David, who would rule and reign; and Mashiach ben Joseph, Son of Joseph, who would suffer and was rejected by his own, like Joseph was rejected by his brothers. Israel needed the conquering Messiah when Yeshua came because of Rome’s oppression and their expectation that God would send the Deliverer. The truth is, it is not two Messiahs, it is one Messiah coming twice—first as the Lamb of God, the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, and then as the reigning King Messiah when Yeshua returns, when we will see the fulfillment of Isaiah 11:1-9!
Jewish People Do Not Need Jesus for Salvation
There is a false doctrine called Dual Covenant Theology, which teaches that Jewish People have a separate path to God through the Mosaic and Abrahamic Covenants. This developed after the Holocaust by Christians who thought the Jews had suffered enough, they need to be accepted and affirmed. Although well meaning, it’s a very dangerous lie.
As I was growing up, whenever someone tried to share the Gospel with me, my first response was always, “I’m Jewish,” and I always received an apology. What these well-meaning, born-again, evangelical Christians were doing was reinforcing the lie that Jesus was not for the Jews.
Yet, Romans 1:16 is clear that the Gospel is to the Jew first. Paul cried out in Romans 9:1-4 that he would give up his own salvation for the sake of his own brethren, the Jews.
Jesus Himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
And we have the declaration in Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved,” making it clear that salvation is through Yeshua alone, for all— Jew and Gentile alike.
The Jewish Identity of Jesus Is Meaningless Because He’s a Spirit
Some look at Yeshua as having transcended or finished with His earthly identity, seeing Him only as spirit, therefore believing His Jewish identity to be irrelevant. However, His work is not finished. According to Matthew 23:39, Yeshua must return, but not until the Jews recognize Him as King, Messiah of Israel, saying, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
In Revelation 5, we see an amazing picture of Yeshua even before He returns, retaining His Jewish identity as He reigns in majesty in Heaven. He is proclaimed “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David,” and “a Lamb” (Revelation 5:5-6). John is looking at his heavenly vision and weeping because no one is worthy to open the scroll, and the elder identifies Yeshua as the One who is worthy—the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Yeshua the Jew! John looks and sees Him as the Lamb of God!
Not only do we see a recognizable connection with His Jewish heritage, but we also see a beautiful picture of Yeshua’s first coming as the Lamb of God who takes away your sin so that you may be prepared for His soon return as the Lion of Judah when Israel cries out, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”