by J. Rottenberg
Many Jews, as well as Christians, think the New Testament has an anti-Jewish character and believe the Lord Jesus had only a few Jewish disciples. But is that true?
At the beginning of the New Testament our attention is fixed by those who were expecting Israel’s comfort, the Messiah and His kingdom. Among them were the shepherds of Bethlehem, Simeon, Anna, Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary and many others. Thousands of them in Judea, Samaria and Galilee felt blessed by listening to Jesus explaining the Word of God to them. The Lord Jesus had many followers, both publicans and Pharisees. One of them, Nicodemus, a Pharisee, said: “Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God.” (John 3:2)
He came unto His own
Referred to the Jewish believers the Lord spoke in John 17: “I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word.” Even Jews, who refused to accept Him as Messiah, were not indifferent towards Him. Remember the answer the disciples gave Jesus at His question: “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” The disciples answered: “Some say .. John the Baptist; some Elijah, and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” (Matt. 16:13). The notions of the people were different and confused, but all of them cherished good thoughts about Him. When the priests and scribes were looking for a way to get Him killed, they tried to keep it out of the people’s sight “for they feared the people.” (Luke 20:19, 22:2) Why were they afraid of the people? Because the people cared about Jesus, were following and adoring Him. The priests’ and scribes’ excuse for their murderous ways: “If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him.” (John 11:48)
His enemies didn’t only respect the Lord Jesus, but they also feared him because of the people. When the priests were looking for witnesses against Him, in order to get Him killed, they couldn’t find any witness among the people. This proves a difference in thoughts between the Jews as a nation and the individual Jews. Concerning the priests and scribes it can be said: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.”
But of the people it can be said: “as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.”
It is a denial of New Testament facts when somebody suggests that the Jews didn’t accept Jesus of Nazareth. If the Jews didn’t accept Him, then who would? The fear and influence of the scribes and Pharisees eventually caused a prejudice against Jesus of Nazareth. And then provoked by them, in the end, the people’s cry sounded: “Crucify Him”.