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This is something that's always bothered me. However, it's something that has deep historical roots (all the way back to Jesus himself).

I've always been told that Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies for the Messiah. People who talk about this point to Isaiah, Psalms, and other passages (all from the text that the Jews read from) showing how he fulfilled the scriptures.

Why do Jews not accept Jesus as the Messiah? What prophecies are they expecting from the Messiah that Jesus did not fulfill?

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Is it just me today or does this seem off-topic to anybody else? It's got great answers - can anybody think of how to make a good question out of it so that it is exemplary rather than just tolerated? –  Caleb Nov 8 '11 at 13:46
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@Caleb I agree. I feel like the connection to Christianity is weak. –  JustinY Nov 8 '11 at 15:19
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Would not this question better be asked in Judaism.SE rather than here? –  Anixx Dec 17 '12 at 14:18
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Because if they accept Jesus as the messiah, they call themselves Christians! –  svidgen Dec 27 '12 at 15:28
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closed as off-topic by El'endia Starman Dec 31 '13 at 22:34

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9 Answers

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Jews Before Time of Jesus [Late Addition]

As Stephen concludes his last sermon in Acts 7 prior to being martyred, he cites the Jewish history of continually rejecting and persecuting the prophets of God:

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it." Acts 7:51-53

Earlier in his sermon, Stephen mentions the Jews' rebellion against Moses, which happened quite a few times, including 1) after Moses initially tells Pharaoh to let the people go, 2) before crossing the Red sea, 3) at Marah where the water was bitter, 4) when they made the golden calf, 5) when they refused to enter the Promised Land and return to Egypt instead--only 2 of the 12 spies were faithful to God, 6) to 100) and on and on and on.

Psalm 78 retells the pattern of continual rejection of God until the time of David, but it continues on after that.

So, the Old Testament reveals a history replete with the Jews rejecting God and His prophets. Therefore, the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah actually fits extremely well into their history. In fact, this probably should have been expected. It was certainly prophesied (Isaiah 53). Indeed, if the Jewish people had immediately embraced Jesus as their Messiah and had been faithful to Him from that moment on, it would really be completely out of character.

Jews at the Time of Jesus

It's important, however, to note that a lot of Jews do and did accept Jesus as the Messiah. The first Christians were Messianic Jews who included the original apostles, the apostle Paul, the 3,000 Jewish people who became believers on the Day of Pentecost. The disciples' directive was to be witnesses in 1) Jerusalem, 2) Judea and Samaria, and 3) to the ends of the earth.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:8 ESV

For the first 7 chapters of Acts, the believers remained in Jerusalem. After the stoningh of Stephen, the believers were scattered into Judea and Samaria.

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Acts 8:1 ESV

The Samaritans (half-Jews) weren't preached to until Acts 8, but full Gentiles weren't included until Acts 10 with Cornelius.

So Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. Acts 10:34 ESV

Even after this, however, the original apostles continued to focus on the Jews. Paul was the one who went to the Gentiles.

On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Galatians 2:7-9 ESV

Still, Paul still numbered many Jews among his converts.

Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. Acts 14:1 ESV

Jews today

Those who have denied Jesus as their Messiah over the centuries have pointed to unfulfilled prophecies. It was recognized that there were prophecies for both a conquering Messiah and a suffering Messiah. One Jewish rabbi proposed a two Messiah theory--a Messiah ben Joseph (who suffered prior to becoming as king) and a Messiah ben David (who would reign as king). One has to admire this proposition from the two different types of prophecies. It was a great guess, indeed. However, instead of there being two different Messiahs, there was two different appearances of the same Messiah.

It is true that many Jews still reject Jesus as their Messiah. However, there seems to be a growing number of Jews who are coming to recognize Jesus as their true Messiah. This article indicates that around 1998, there were about 3500 Jewish believers in about 80 congregations in Israel. Ten years later, the number was between 10,000 and 15,000 in 120 congregations. In the U.S., this site estimates that there are over 175,000 Jewish believers and over one million worldwide. That is a very significant number.

It should be noted that the history of the Jewish people, especially as recalled in Psalm 78, shows continued rejection of God throughout time. God continually shows his patience with Israel time and time again as He continually holds out His hands to them.

I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here am I, here am I," to a nation that was not called by my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and making offerings on bricks; who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat pig’s flesh, and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels; who say, "Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you." These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. Isaiah 65:1-5 ESV

Still, God continues to draw them to Himself and there are many Jews today who are now returning to their God and their Messiah.

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-1 for the last section, which was patronising, condescending, and altogether unpleasant. –  TRiG Dec 16 '12 at 0:40
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@TRiG Psalm 78 is a Jewish record of their own shortcomings. I am not being condescending--just merely pointing out that their own history asserts their own propensity to abandon God. Truth is, however, unpleasant at times--for all of us. Yet, our response should not be to avoid it. –  Narnian Dec 16 '12 at 16:01
    
@Anixx, Narnian! Take your discussions to chat! (As an aside, Anixx, don't downvote an answer merely because you disagree with it or because you dislike its wording. How do we avoid a vote contest? is relevant here.) –  El'endia Starman Dec 18 '12 at 12:15
    
@El'endia Starman I disagree with you removal of my comment. Please restore it. It explains why I downvoted it. –  Anixx Dec 18 '12 at 16:20
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In that case, I will repeat: I downvoted this answer because it alleges that rejection of God and his prophets is specific to Jewish ethnic and national features. That way I think this answer is offensive rather than my comment. –  Anixx Dec 19 '12 at 9:58
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Why Jews Do Not Accept Jesus as the Messiah

The Messiah is a person who will live up to a series of prophetic expectations and partake of an era marked by particular characteristics. In absence of such being the case, Jesus cannot possibly be the Messiah.

The whole world will worship the One God of Israel. Isaiah 2:11-17, Isaiah 40:5, Zephaniah 3:9

Currently large swaths humanity do not worship the One God of Israel.

Knowledge of God will fill the world. Isaiah 11:9, 45:23, 66:23, Jeremiah 31:33, Zechariah 3:9, 8:23, 14:9,16, Ezekiel 38:23, Psalm 86:9

Note that this is knowledge of God - not simply unsubstantiated faith in God. Even amongst the faithful, such knowledge is rare.

All Israelites will be returned to their homeland Isaiah 11:12, 27:12-13, Ezekiel 11:17, 36:24, Deuteronomy 30:3

Though there are more Jews today living in the Land of Israel than there have been since the exile began nearly 2,000 years ago - there is still a large diaspora consisting of millions of Jews.

The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness. Isaiah 51:11

The Jewish people have been historically subject to a great degree of persecution (the Holocaust, the Inquisition, pogroms, etc.) and while generally our condition has improved, we are still a perpetual target.

Nations will recognize the wrongs they did to Israel. Isaiah 52:13-53:5

While modern Germany as a nation-state does much to repent of its history (i.e. the Holocaust), various states and human institutions with much blood and guilt on their hands, to this day either remain silent, white-wash/cover up history, or in some perverse instances even exult in it.

The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance. Zechariah 8:23

While there is today an emerging interest in observance of the Noahide laws (the Torah's universal laws of man), there still has not been an en masse turn towards learned Torah observant Jews for guidance in spiritual matters.

Weapons of war will be destroyed. Ezekiel 39:9

One need only momentarily consider the trillions spent on arms by nations such as the U.S., China and Russia as well as the existence of an immense military industrial complex to realize that this is not the condition we find ourselves in today.

A person’s genealogical/tribal membership are transmitted exclusively through one’s physical father. Numbers 1:18, Jeremiah 33:17

Jesus whose alleged sketchy genealogy is maternal cannot possibly be a verifiable descendent of the tribe of Judah.

The Temple will be rebuilt. Micah 4:1, Ezekiel 40-42, Isaiah 2:2-3, Malachi 3:4, Zechariah 14:20-21,

The Third Temple is not a metaphor, it is not symbolic of a man. There will be an actual physical building where all of the ritualistic components that the Torah commands be implemented, will be administered by Leviim (Levites) and Kohanim (Priests).

World Peace: Isaiah 2:4, 11:6, 60:18 Micah 4:1-4, Hosea 2:20

The list of ongoing military conflicts is too long to list here. One can hardly pick up a newspaper or hear a news report without being informed of the latest battle, bombing, strike, etc.

Christianity claims that Jesus "Fulfilled the law," i.e. the law is abrogated and need not any longer be observed.

Deut. 13:2-7 concerns the "false prophet" - if one arises who attempts to draw the Jewish people away from Torah observance then he is to be identified as such. The Torah's commandments are an eternally binding covenant with the Jews, God is not a whimsical being subject to a willy nilly changing of the rules - "God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent" (Num. 23:19)

All Jews will embrace Torah observance. Ezekiel 37:24, Deuteronomy 30:8-10, Jeremiah 31:32, Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:26-27.

It is fairly obvious that as the situation stands today, lamentably only a very small percentage of Jews live in observance of the Torah. Secularism has widely been embraced by Jews and some even go so far as deeming such virtuous.

Jesus cannot be a part of God, not him, anybody or anything. Deut 6:4.

The idea of the Messiah actually partaking of divinity is anathema to Torah Judaism. God is ONE. His oneness is inviolable and is not that of a compound unity (like twelve eggs make one dozen, or three divinities make one god).

The law is eternal.

Torah: Genesis 17:9, Exodus 12:14, 12:17, 12:24 12:43, 13:3, 27:21, 28:43, 29:9, 30:21, 31:17, 34:27, Leviticus 3:17, 6:22, 7:34-36, 10:9, 10:15, 16:29, 16:31, 16:34, 17:7, 23:14, 23:21, 23:31, 23:41, 24:3, 26:46, Numbers 10:8, 15:15, 19:10, 19:21, 18:23, 35:29, Deuteronomy 4:40, 5:29, 12:28, 18:5, 28:46, 29:28-29, 32:40

Navi: Joshua 1:8, 2 Kings 17:37, Isaiah 34:17, 40:8, 57:16, Hosea 2:19,

Writings: Daniel 7:18, 1 Chronicles 17:22, 23:13, 2 Chronicles 2:4, Psalms 111:7-8, 119:44, 119:52, 119:142, 119:160, 148:6

...and that there are no references to it ever passing away.

To summarize (H. Melakhim Ch. 11):

In the future, the Messianic king will arise and renew the Davidic dynasty, restoring it to its initial sovereignty. He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel. Then, in his days, the observance of all the statutes will return to their previous state. We will offer sacrifices, observe the Sabbatical and Jubilee years according to all their particulars as described by the Torah...

If a king will arise from the House of David who diligently contemplates the Torah and observes its mitzvot as prescribed by the Written Law and the Oral Law as David, his ancestor, will compel all of Israel to walk in (the way of the Torah) and rectify the breaches in its observance, and fight the wars of God, we may, with assurance, consider him Moshiah. If he succeeds in the above, builds the Temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, he is definitely the Moshiah. He will then improve the entire world, motivating all the nations to serve God together, as Tzephaniah 3:9 states: 'I will transform the peoples to a purer language that they all will call upon the name of God and serve Him with one purpose.' If he did not succeed to this degree or was killed, he surely is not the redeemer promised by the Torah.

The Messiah will basically be a human religious leader and a warrior king born of a young woman. He will not die and come back, rather he will live a mortal life within which he fulfill the prophetic expectations. Bar Kochba (who led the rebellion against Roman occupation), was once considered as a messianic candidate. However, once he died and thus failed to live up to the aforementioned expectations, the Sages effectively shrugged and said "oh well... he wasn't it." To borrow a phrase "The God of the Hebrew Bible sends the messianic king to accomplish his end, not to follow a two-part script in which the hero tragically dies and the words 'to be continued' suddenly appear on the screen."

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Welcome to the site! This actually a well-written answer to a question that shouldn't even exist on thus site. The question is asking for why Jews don't believe it, on a site that expects answers from a Christian perspective. Guess I can't fault you for providing a non-Christian perspective. Still, please check out the following posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites? –  David Stratton Jan 1 at 0:12
    
Christians would counter this by saying that not all prophecies are fulfilled at the same time. They believe that Jesus is the warrior king descended from David, but also that he is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. In the first coming of Jesus he took the role of that servant, and in the second coming he will take the role of the warrior king. –  curiousdannii Jan 1 at 4:38
    
David Stratton, thanks for the welcome, I do appreciate it. curiousdannii, the end of this list explicitly talks about how the idea of a second coming was and still is foreign to Judaism. As for traditional/Jewish readings of Isaiah 53, we understanding it in the context of Isaiah 52, where a nation will suffer. –  namer98 Jan 2 at 1:11
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Jews don't accept those prophecies because they are from the Old Testament, and the OT is not the authoritative book in Judaism. The authoritative book in Judaism is the Babylonian Talmud.

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That's only partially correct. While Jews don't recognize the Old Testament they do have the Tanakh which includes much of the same prophets (Isaiah for example) and their prophecies. –  Andrew Feb 14 '13 at 22:23
    
@ashansky Actually your comment doesn't have anything to do with my answer. I said the OT is not authoritative. The Talmud supersedes the OT. –  apocalypse_info_click_here Feb 14 '13 at 22:35
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If we ignore the supernatural side of things (God's will, miracles and so on), another question would be much better (and much harder to answer): "Why did some Jews accept Jesus as the Messiah?"

The reason is easy: Jesus tried hard to fulfill prophecies his own way, but he didn't try to fulfill people's assumptions about Messiah. He even did many thinks to escalate conflict with such assumptions. As though he tried to say: "I'm the Messiah who was anointed by God, not the Messiah that people want God to anoint."

Let's start with morale. Jesus had some crazy requirements for his disciples, such as most of Matthew 5. It was impossible for many generations before them to keep pace with the requirements of the Law (even Pharisees and teachers of the Law couldn't observe it perfectly), and some strange guy says that "unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."

But if John the Baptist had quite a few followers and he promised that the Messiah would be even stricter than him (see Luke 3:16-17), it could work for someone, especially if there would be someone who seem to keep this new interpretation of the Law succesfully.

You might object that Jesus offered deliverance from the sins too. But it's where real problems start. Claim to forgive sins would be completely crazy and pointless if Jesus didn't have some special authority from God or even was God himself. But Immanuel, God walking among us, was something very hard to believe or even imagine for devout Jews. Few other Messiah-claimants claimed to be God too, because this was too risky. Even frequent miracles couldn't justify such claim in eyes of most Jews. There were and still are many Christian heresies that can't accept that Jesus is the second person of Holy Trinity, so why to be surprised that it's almost impossible to believe in it for a non-Christian, especially Jew accustomed to strict monotheism?

Humility of Jesus, who was born in a manger, spend his childhood in a poor familly Galilee, claimed that his kingdom is not from this world and escaped every time when someone try to make him a king could give him favor of the poor, but it strongly contrasted with the view of Messiah as a political leader. From the perspective of the scribes and Pharisees (very well expressed here by Judah) it seemed to clearly contradict his claims to be the Messiah. Scribes and Pharisees were definitely not the only ones with this perspective, even John the Baptist expected something different from the Messiah and was confused by Jesus' behavior (see already mentioned Luke 3:16-17 and especially Matthew 11:3).

Connected with the "kingdon which is not from this world" are the promises. Judah has expressed better than I could how hard was it to accept for anyone who didn't expect the two comings, as Mason Wheeler has explained.

This wasn't the only reason why Jesus didn't fit to the expectations about the Messiah. For example his birth in Bethlehem was unknown. On the other hand, he fulfilled many prophecies that were not understood as a messianic prophecy or even as a prophecy at all - see Judah's post elsewhere. The worst of these was that Jesus suffered and died on the cross - crucifixion was sort of a proof that Jesus is not the Messiah (the Sanhedrin could just order to stone Jesus to death as a false prophet, but that wouldn't be harsh enough) - see Deuteronomy 21:22-23:

22 If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, 23 you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

But even this was not enough. There is even worse blasphemy than claim to be God or avoiding common expectations of the Messiah: the Eucharist. John 6 is pretty clear here:

53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!

Canibalism is something ugly for us too. Drinking blood was even uglier for Jews - imagine being told to eat flesh of human babies. And Jesus didn't say a word to clarify that it's just a symbol, he just let his disciples go if they couldn't accept that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. Well, he didn't fulfill it literally but somehow mystically, but still many Christians needed to water it down by understanding Eucharist as just a symbol (as traditional Christians like Catholics and Orthodox believe, it's something more than a symbol, but here is not the place to discuss it in detail). Blood was perceived as a place where soul dwells and its drinking was God's privilege, so the Flesh and Blood (a.k.a. communion bread and wine) is perfect for a sacrament leading to close connection with Jesus and deification, but its mystery is very hard to understand at least from a very small part even for Christians, so it's another block for Jesus' potencial followers. Plus, it makes no sense if Jesus is not God, but I have discussed it earlier.

Even more, ressurection on the third day is something necessary for us Christians and still another blockade that many didn't pass. Paul is strict about that (1Corinthians 15:14-19):

14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

The consequences are well known. "Heretic stigma" and persecution from the Jews, even worse persecution from Roman government and from many other regimes since then. And such small details that someone with such an awkward teaching is worshipped as a God or at least venerated as a Messiah by almost 1/3 of people on this planet today.

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May I ask for the reason of the downvote? Was someone offended by the exaggeration? Or by slight irony (some may read as "cruel sarcasm") toward Judah? Or did the context of my other question upset someone? Given the provocative form of my post I understand it, I just want a feedback. –  Pavel Dec 17 '12 at 9:41
    
"The consequences are well known. "Heretic stigma" and persecution from the Jews, even worse persecution from Roman government and from many other regimes since then." - and prosecution of Jews shortly after. I upvoted. –  Anixx Dec 17 '12 at 14:49
    
I changed one place in the beginning to clarify it a little. –  Pavel Dec 27 '12 at 12:08
    
"And Jesus didn't say a word to clarify that it's just a symbol, he just let his disciples go if they couldn't accept that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood." It is obviously a symbol. He has the bread and wine in his hands when he says it. The bread in his hands is obviously not really his body... –  decker Feb 16 '13 at 3:57
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The true answer is, the Jews did not see Jesus as the messiah since he never fulfilled any criterion for being such. Furthermore, there's no need to "accept" or "believe in" the messiah. The guy is just supposed to do his job regardless of how hard it would be - show me from the Hebrew text that I am wrong. The second coming theory has no basis whatsoever in the Hebrew Bible text. If you accept all the baseless notions of Christianity regarding "the messiah", then think for yourself: if you "have to" believe that someone is the messiah based on their misery during their "first coming", do you have any idea how many messiah's you would have to believe in?!?!? History is full with miserable messiah-wannabe's that lost their lives in extremely unpleasant ways. And as for why the "second coming" theory is a very unwise workaround to explain away the unfulfilled messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Bible: would you open your mouth to be treated by a dentistry freshman, based on his promise that in 30 years from now he will be the best dentist in the country? Of course not (I hope for you)! And what if 30 years later you came to check up on him and learned that he never even graduated? Would you still proclaim that he is the best dentist in the country? Well Jesus said explicitly in the NT that the kingdom of God will come in power in his generation: "And he said to them, 'I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.'" (Mark 9:1). Well it did not. Just read the bloody history of the last 2,000 years if you don't believe me. Kingdom of God in its power?!?!? Is this the power of God? I beg your pardon? Who is delusional here? The Jews? Hmmmm.....

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+1. Quite simple: The Jews didn't accept Jesus as the Messiah because Jesus did not in any way act like the Messiah. And reading the Hebrew Bible as a set of "Messianic prophesy" checklist is a post facto Christian interpretation which has nothing to do with the original meanings of the texts. But then I'm an atheist, so what do I know? –  TRiG Dec 16 '12 at 0:39
    
+1. This post is a great example of the "we know what the Messiah will be/do..." perspective, expecting the Messiah to meet human definitions. From purely rational view, it's much more logical than the Christian view ("Messiah is someone chosen by God as such, and God is free to fulfill his promises in any way as concrete or symbollic as He wants, so Jesus fits perfectly"). There were plenty of other Messiah claimants, and we have only such ex-post advantages over them like that no-one of them made people of most nations worship the only God. –  Pavel Dec 16 '12 at 10:39
    
I think the answer to the mystery of Mark 9:1 can be discovered in Mark 9:2. –  jcohen79 Dec 16 '12 at 21:40
    
Narnian! Pavel! Anixx! Judah! Comments are not a place to debate! Please use our chat for that. –  El'endia Starman Dec 18 '12 at 11:50
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During the rule of Pontius Pilate before Jesus there were 12 people in Judea who were claiming they were phophets, earned followers, and were consequently executed. Claiming oneself to be a phophet was a national sport in Judea at the time. One man, for example, collected a crowd and led them to wander over the desert in search of magical vessels which were (as he claimed) buried by Moses. So he claimed he knew where they were.

Both in medieval times and nowadays there are also numerous people who claim that they are phophets. In Middle ages they would be for sure burned at a stake, but now they sometimes succeed to organize their own sects and religions. You possibly, heard about Shoko Asakhara, Marina Tsvigun, Sergei Torop (Vissarion) and others.

There is nothing that makes Jesus special in this respect.

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A major sticking point for Jews is Jesus' claim to be God. For example, here's the exchange between Jesus and the high priest after Judas had betrayed Jesus (NASB):

Mat 26:63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God."
Mat 26:64 Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN."
Mat 26:65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy;

Jesus claiming to be God was viewed as blasphemy because it was directly contrary to the Shema which begins:

Deu 6:4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!

The concept of the Trinity was totally foreign to them. They don't see how God can be in multiple persons and still be one (not that it's an easy concept for anyone to wrap their head around).

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30 AD was a really bad time to be the Messiah of the Jews. They believed they were God's chosen people, but they were living in subjugation to the Roman Empire. (And apparently in a certain degree of denial about it; see John 8: 33.) They had prophecies about how the Messiah would come, sent from God, and deliver them. Unfortunately, the part they didn't really get is that He would come twice. (This is a pretty easy mistake to make, especially if you're reading Isaiah; in his prophecies he dances all over the timeline, jumping back and forth between his own day, the time of Christ, and the Last Days, and it takes a fair amount of careful study to follow what he's saying without getting lost.)

They thought they were in their darkest hour, and the time was perfect for what we would call the Second Coming today, when the great and glorious Messiah would appear and deliver them from their enemies. But as we all know, that's not how it happened. He had a more spiritual mission to accomplish first. And so many of them rejected him for not living up to their expectations.

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This is something I've heard as an explanation. I haven't read much on the matter, and as you can see, I don't cite any sources.

The Jews were actually waiting for two different people when Jesus came. They were waiting for a military leader to free the people, and a prophet to fill the spiritual side of the prophecies. The only way they could see a way to fulfill all the prophecies was to have two separate individuals.

Jesus was the Lamb of God, a sacrifice -- a sacrilege to the Jews.

That the Messiah should be brutally killed in the hands of the people was not at all what was expected. So in summary, the Jews had very different expectations from what happened, and thus it was very hard to believe.

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As a slightly different version, I've always heard that they expected the Messiah to be both a prophet and a military leader. –  JustinY Aug 29 '11 at 14:03
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That reminds me of the testimony of a jewish atheist. docs.google.com/document/d/… –  Jonathon Byrd Aug 29 '11 at 19:06
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