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." Acts 15:ll 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 this lesson.


Who decided to have Jesus killed? John 11:47,53


Who paid Judas to betray Jesus? Matthew 26:14-16


Who sent the mob that arrested Jesus? Matthew 26:47


Pontius Pilate offered to release Jesus or Barabbas. Who persuaded the people to cry for Barabbas to be released and Jesus to be crucified? Matthew 27:20-22


Who gave the order to crucify Jesus? Mark 15:12-15

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.


Who actually crucified Jesus? Mark 15:16-20

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.


Who first tried to kill Jesus? When? Matthew 2:13,16

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.


Who else was controlled by Satan? John 8:39,40,44

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 before them? Matthew 23:29-31

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.


How is the gospel hidden from those who are lost? 2 Corinthians 4:3,4

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.


How did Satan accomplish this among the Jews? 2 Corinthians 3:14

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? John 11:47,48

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 their religion? Mark 7:5-13

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 leaders "sinners?" John 7:19

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 traditions!
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.

a. Matthew 23:4,5
b. Matthew 3:14
c. Matthew 23:27,28

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? John 15:25

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? John 16:2,3

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 this persecution.


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 church? Revelation 17:6

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 of Jesus.


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, Satan.
"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." Colossians 2:8
Examples of Jewish Sabbath laws as recorded in their rule book, the Mishna. (Paraphrased)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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