Jesus & Judaism
Jesus Christ was not the inventor of a new religion. He
is the very center of the one and only religion of the Bible,
both Old Testament and New. God has but one plan of salvation
for all mankind whether Jew or Gentile. Both Jews and
Gentiles have one Messiah, Jesus Christ. Both have their
sins forgiven by His blood, the "blood of the Lamb." Both
are saved by grace, as the apostle Peter told the Christians
when he said "But we believe that through the grace of the
Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they."
Both will stand before the throne of God together. It seems
strange then, that Jesus was constantly being accused of
breaking the Jewish law, of undercutting their entire
religious structure, and of trying to deceive the Jewish nation.
Jesus did not enjoy a life of peace and tranquillity. The
Jewish religious leaders, who should have been the spiritual
eyes of the nation, harassed Jesus throughout His
earthly ministry. Their reason for doing so, and the
ultimate goal they hoped to accomplish, is the subject of
Pontius Pilate offered to release Jesus or Barabbas.
Who persuaded the people to cry for Barabbas to be
released and Jesus to be crucified?
Helps and hints: The Jews were governed by the
Romans. They had no authority to execute prisoners themselves.
They needed permission from Pontius Pilate, the Roman
governor. The Jews were a difficult people to rule
and Pilate wanted to satisfy them as much as possible
to keep his position. For this reason he was willing
to send an innocent man to his death.
Helps and hints: Both Jews and non-Jews
contributed to the death of Jesus. We must remember that Jesus
died as the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.
Every one of us shares the responsibility for what
took place at Calvary.
Helps and hints: Herod "the Great" was king of
the Jewish nation when Jesus was born. He was a cruel
man who wanted more than anything to protect his throne.
Although a professed Jew, his kinsmen were not
descendants of Abraham but were foreigners who
became Jews. Herod knew the Bible prophecy of
a ruler who would arise from the true descendants
of Abraham. Therefore when the "wise men" came to
Jerusalem seeking the new "King of the Jews"
(Matthew 2:2) he made a desperate attempt to destroy
this possible new rival.
Helps and hints: The Jews had accused Jesus of healing
people through the power of the devil. But Jesus said
it was THEY who were operating under the power of
Satan, and by his influence.
In their efforts to kill Jesus, how were the Jewish
leaders following in the footsteps of their fathers
Helps and hints: Jesus drew attention to the fact that
the war between righteousness and unrighteousness was
being waged within the Jewish nation long before He
arrived on the scene as a man. The Old Testament tells
many stories of how God's true prophets often suffered
persecution at the hands of their own countrymen.
Satan constantly works behind the scenes in his warfare
against God. He always tries to use those who claim to
be "God's own people" as the instruments of his attacks
against the true worshippers of God.
Helps and hints: Satan is the one referred to as
the "god of this world." He works to blind men to
the truth about God, then dazzles them with the hope
of fulfillment through their own resources and devices.
Helps and hints: The Jews were blinded by their
failure to see Jesus in the Old Testament, just as
Jews and many Christians are still blinded today.
The Jews did not want a humble Savior, who would
act as a sacrifice for their sins. They wanted a
political leader, who would deliver them from the
Romans. They wanted power, not salvation. They
believed that they were already "saved" by national
and racial identity as Jews.
In what way did the Jewish leaders believe that
Jesus threatened their power?
Helps and hints: The Romans had no real sympathy for
the Jewish leaders or their religion. They only
tolerated them to avoid rebellion among the people.
The Jewish leaders felt that if they did not have
visible authority and power over the people, the
Romans would no longer even tolerate them. These
men no longer trusted in God. They relied solely on
their own power and influence.
Jesus was the true center of the Jewish religion, and
the Jews failed to see Him in their religion. How had
that system become so far removed from what it was
originally? Consider the following questions.
In what way did Jesus say the Jews had perverted
Helps and hints: The Jewish leaders had developed an
elaborate system of strict but highly questionable
rules and regulations ("traditions"). By means of these
traditions, they had succeeded in corrupting the true
faith of Israel. They turned it into an endless round
of formalism. Because of the misrepresentation of God's
character that resulted, they had in fact made their
religion an instrument of Satan. That is why Jesus told
them that their father was really the devil, not Abraham.
Abraham served God, but these men were no longer serving
God. The most condemning accusation that Jesus could
ever make of the Jewish people was that they had
substituted their own system of worship for the true
worship of God.
Why was Jesus justified in calling the Jewish
Helps and hints: The Jews prided themselves on "keeping
the law." But the law they kept was the law of their own
traditions, not the Law of God. They were willing to
commit murder to preserve their own "form-based" religion.
How did the Jewish traditions affect their attitude
toward human life in general?
Matthew 12:1 -13
Helps and hints: Many of the traditions of the Jews
focused on the "proper" observance of the Sabbath day.
Jesus demonstrated that not only had they become almost
totally lacking in human compassion but they actually
placed animal life above that of their fellow human
beings. Property was worth more to them than people.
Jesus flatly showed that it was NOT wrong to heal on
the Sabbath as they had accused Him, but it WAS wrong
to withhold divine blessing from people through their
Someone once remarked that Jesus was not crucified for
preaching "consider the liles of the field, how they
grow", but for preaching "consider the scribes and
Pharisees, how they cheat and steal." Jesus had some
very strong things to say about "religionists" who
corrupted religion before the eyes of the people,
and who led them into sin by their example. Many of
these sayings are recorded in the 23rd chapter of
Matthew's gospel. List at least three ways the scribes
and Pharisees were corrupting true religion.
The religion of the Jewish leaders was like a parasite.
It had attached itself to the true religion of Israel
and sucked the life out of it. Jesus brought new life
and hope to those who suffered under the burden of this
deception. The Jews hated Jesus for exposing the
hypocrisy of their self-styled religious system. They
hated Him for revealing their true character to the
common people. They hated Him for threatening their
power structure. That is why they sought to kill Him.
Why did Jesus say He was hated in the world?
Helps and hints: Jesus was indeed hated without cause.
Only the presence of sin in the human heart can explain
the way He was treated on earth. Religious pretense
cannot hide an evil heart.
What warning did Jesus give His disciples?
Helps and hints: Satan continues his war against God
by attacking Christ's church on earth. History is red
with the blood of Christian martyrs. For many, their
only offense was owning a portion of the Holy Bible.
Religious powers have often been in the forefront of
What warning did the apostle Paul give the
Christian believers in Thessalonica?
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
Helps and hints: The Thessalonians expected the
immediate return of Jesus. Paul told them that
before that would happen, Satan would corrupt
the Christian church in much the same way he had
corrupted the faith of the Jewish people. He would
plant his followers in the temple of God. Only
those who sincerely sought the truth
would be able to see through this deception.
Under what symbol did the apostle John view this
same religious power that persecutes the true Christian
Helps and hints: In the book of Revelation, "women"
represent religious systems. The pure woman (clothed
in white) is a symbol of the true church., and the
adulterous woman (clothed in scarlet) symbolizes a
false religious system. It is this adulterous woman
who is said to be "drunk" with the blood of the martyrs
The controversy between Jesus and the Jews was
only one act in the drama of history. It has been
a religious controversy throughout and the principle
actors have been religious. Cain wanted to style
his own religion, offering the sacrifices of his choice.
He ended up murdering his brother, who chose to be
loyal to God and follow the instructions God had given.
Since that time Satan has continued to use distorted
religious practices as weapons in his war against God.
The last scenes before the Second Coming of Christ will
not focus primarily wars between nations, on the age
old issue of who has the rightful claim to our highest
loyalties. Will we worship God as He has asked us, and
remain loyal to the principles of His government? Or
will we worship Him after the manner of our own choosing,
after the traditions of men, inspired by the rebel angel,
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and
vain deceit after the tradition of men after the
rudiments of the world,, and not after Christ."
Examples of Jewish Sabbath laws as recorded in their
rule book, the Mishna. (Paraphrased)
A man is guilty of breaking the Sabbath if he
carries a loaf of bread out onto the street. However,
if two men carry it out, neither is guilty. If one
would not have been able to carry it out himself,
and two carry it out, both are guilty.
If a man throws an article the distance of four
cubits onto a wall that is ten handbreadths high, he
is guilty. He is also guilty if he throws an object
more than four cubits along the ground. If he throws
it less than four cubits and it rolls more than the
four cubits limit, he is not guilty, but if he throws
it more than four cubits and it rolls backward to within
four cubits, he is still guilty.
If a man has a toothache on the Sabbath he is not
allowed to sip vinegar through them, as this would be
considered healing and therefore illegal on the Sabbath.
He may dip his bread in vinegar as usual and if he is
healed as a result, so be it.
If a man was reading in a scroll on a threshold
and the scroll rolled out of his hand, he may roll
it back to himself. If he was reading it on top
of the roof and the scrollrolled out of his hard he
may, before it reached ten handbreadths from the ground,
roll it back to himself.
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