Why didn’t Jesus meet the Jews’ expectations of the Messiah?

Below are the passages in the Old Testament that Jews believe speak of the coming Messiah.  Notice there are no passages that speak of a suffering Messiah.  No passages that speak of the Messiah being a “lamb”.  To the Jews, the Messiah will be a great and powerful warrior who will gather all the peoples of Israel and Judah, from all the countries of the earth, and bring them back to Jerusalem and the land of Israel, where he will rule the entire world with power, glory, and justice on the throne of his ancestor, King David.

No wonder that the majority of Jews in Jesus’ day did not accept him as their Almighty, Conquering Redeemer.  Jesus did NOT meet the OT prophesies, at least as the Jews understood them.

This list of Messianic passages is taken from this Jewish website:  Judaism 101
I have printed out the single passages on the list but only excerpts of the chapters.

Isaiah 2, 11, 42; 59:20

For <sup class="crossreference" value="(E)”>out of Zion shall go the law,<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>[a]
    and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
    and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
<sup class="crossreference" value="(F)”>and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
<sup class="crossreference" value="(G)”>nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war anymore.”

“In that day <sup class="crossreference" value="(O)”>the root of <sup class="crossreference" value="(P)”>Jesse, who shall stand as <sup class="crossreference" value="(Q)”>a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
11 <sup class="crossreference" value="(R)”>In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, <sup class="crossreference" value="(S)”>from Assyria, <sup class="crossreference" value="(T)”>from Egypt, from <sup class="crossreference" value="(U)”>Pathros, from <sup class="crossreference" value="(V)”>Cush,<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>[a] from <sup class="crossreference" value="(W)”>Elam, from <sup class="crossreference" value="(X)”>Shinar, from <sup class="crossreference" value="(Y)”>Hamath, and from <sup class="crossreference" value="(Z)”>the coastlands of the sea.

12 He will raise <sup class="crossreference" value="(AA)”>a signal for the nations
    and will assemble <sup class="crossreference" value="(AB)”>the banished of Israel,
and gather the dispersed of Judah”

Jeremiah 23, 30, 33; 48:47; 49:39

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous <sup class="crossreference" value="(I)”>Branch, and <sup class="crossreference" value="(J)”>he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and <sup class="crossreference" value="(K)”>Israel will <sup class="crossreference" value="(L)”>dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: <sup class="crossreference" value="(M)”>‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

<sup class="crossreference" value="(N)”>“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>[a] had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”

“For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, <sup class="crossreference" value="(C)”>when I will restore <sup class="crossreference" value="(D)”>the fortunes of my people, <sup class="crossreference" value="(E)”>Israel and Judah, says the Lord, <sup class="crossreference" value="(F)”>and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.”

““Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when <sup class="crossreference" value="(AH)”>I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous <sup class="crossreference" value="(AI)”>Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, <sup class="crossreference" value="(AJ)”>and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: <sup class="crossreference" value="(AK)”>‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

17 “For thus says the Lord: <sup class="crossreference" value="(AL)”>David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, 18 <sup class="crossreference" value="(AM)”>and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.”

Ezekiel 38:16

 “and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It shall come about in the last days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may <sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”>know Me when I am <sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”>sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog.”

Hosea 3:4-5
 For the children of Israel <sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”>shall dwell many days <sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”>without king or prince, <sup class="crossreference" value="(C)”>without sacrifice or <sup class="crossreference" value="(D)”>pillar, without <sup class="crossreference" value="(E)”>ephod or <sup class="crossreference" value="(F)”>household gods. Afterward <sup class="crossreference" value="(G)”>the children of Israel shall return and <sup class="crossreference" value="(H)”>seek the Lord their God, and <sup class="crossreference" value="(I)”>David their king, <sup class="crossreference" value="(J)”>and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the <sup class="crossreference" value="(K)”>latter days.

Micah 4

 It shall come to pass <sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”>in the latter days
    that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
    and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
    and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
    and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>[a]
    and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
    and shall decide for strong nations far away;
and they shall <sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”>beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war anymore;
<sup class="crossreference" value="(C)”>but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
    <sup class="crossreference" value="(D)”>and no one shall make them afraid,
    <sup class="crossreference" value="(E)”>for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
For <sup class="crossreference" value="(F)”>all the peoples walk
    each in the name of its god,
but <sup class="crossreference" value="(G)”>we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
    forever and ever.

Zephaniah 3:9

For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.

Zechariah 14:9

And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one. 

Daniel 10:2-14

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for <sup class="crossreference" value="(F)”>three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I <sup class="crossreference" value="(G)”>anoint myself at all, for <sup class="crossreference" value="(H)”>the full three weeks. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing <sup class="crossreference" value="(I)”>on the bank of the great river (<sup class="crossreference" value="(J)”>that is, the Tigris) <sup class="crossreference" value="(K)”>I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, <sup class="crossreference" value="(L)”>a man clothed in linen, <sup class="crossreference" value="(M)”>with a belt of fine <sup class="crossreference" value="(N)”>gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like <sup class="crossreference" value="(O)”>beryl, his face <sup class="crossreference" value="(P)”>like the appearance of lightning, <sup class="crossreference" value="(Q)”>his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and <sup class="crossreference" value="(R)”>legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and <sup class="crossreference" value="(S)”>the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. <sup class="crossreference" value="(T)”>And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and <sup class="crossreference" value="(U)”>no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed,<sup class="footnote" value="[b]”>[b] <sup class="crossreference" value="(V)”>and I retained no strength. Then I heard the sound of his words, <sup class="crossreference" value="(W)”>and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep <sup class="crossreference" value="(X)”>with my face to the ground.

10 And behold, <sup class="crossreference" value="(Y)”>a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, <sup class="crossreference" value="(Z)”>man greatly loved, <sup class="crossreference" value="(AA)”>understand the words that I speak to you, and <sup class="crossreference" value="(AB)”>stand upright, for <sup class="crossreference" value="(AC)”>now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, <sup class="crossreference" value="(AD)”>“Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you <sup class="crossreference" value="(AE)”>set your heart to understand and <sup class="crossreference" value="(AF)”>humbled yourself before your God, <sup class="crossreference" value="(AG)”>your words have been heard, <sup class="crossreference" value="(AH)”>and I have come because of your words. 13 <sup class="crossreference" value="(AI)”>The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me <sup class="crossreference" value="(AJ)”>twenty-one days, but <sup class="crossreference" value="(AK)”>Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 <sup class="crossreference" value="(AL)”>and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people <sup class="crossreference" value="(AM)”>in the latter days. For <sup class="crossreference" value="(AN)”>the vision is for days yet to come.”

5 thoughts on “Why didn’t Jesus meet the Jews’ expectations of the Messiah?

  1. As I have understood it, there have been both prophecies of a conquering Messiah and of a suffering Servant. You will note that when people were wondering who John the Baptist was, they thought he might be “the Christ” or “that prophet”. I surmise that the suffering Servant and conquering Messiahs were taken to be two different persons anticipated as coming.

    The Apostles were able, through their daily contact with Jesus, to learn that He would come once as a suffering servant, only to return as the conquering king and judge. So the majority of Jews of Jesus' time failed to realize that the two messianic prophecy streams were actually speaking of one Messiah.

    Worse still, the Muslims take “that prophet” in the Gospel accounts as an anticipation of Muhammed. And they go even so far as to claim that Jesus was a Muslim! Funny thing, Jesus returned to Heaven some 5 centuries before Muhammed was born, so how could He possibly be a Muslim?


  2. According to the Jews, there has never been a “suffering messiah” tradition in Judaism. The passages in the OT that Christians believe refer to the Messiah, to Jews, do NOT. These passages, such as Isaiah 53, refer to the suffering of the nation of Israel, according to Jews.

    Therefore there is NO concept in Judaism of a suffering, dying Messiah. This is why even Jesus' disciples abandoned him when the chief priests were able to take him captive without a struggle. No messiah would have allowed that.

    It was only the Resurrection that convinced the Jewish disciples and then other Jews that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. In other words, the only way that a Jew was going to believe that a pacifist peasant, executed as a common criminal, was the Messiah…was to present them with a walking, talking CORPSE!


  3. Dear Bro. Gary: In a general and broad way you're right dear brother. Your conclusions mirror very closely the British Scholar N.T Wright's conclusions about Jesus' Messiahship in his volume: “Jesus and the Victory of God”. Unless Jesus would had risen from the dead, there would had been no major reason for His disciples or for anyone else to have believed His Messianic claims.

    The resurrection event is interpreted to mean Jesus victoriously conquered death, hell and the grave – and that the resurrection event itself heralds the inauguration of the coming Kingdom.

    So then what about His sufferings? Though Wright by and large believes that Judaism would scarcely had known of such an imagery, yet Wright does believe such a concept would not had been completely foreign to the first century Jew.

    Yes, the Jews did take Isaiah 53 to basically refer to the suffering of the Jewish nation. However, Wright points out some research in the Jewish pseudapigraphical Book of Enoch chs 37-70 suggests that the material about “The Son of Man” and references to a Messianic figure in that work is a combination of Daniel 7 and Isaiah 53.

    I decided to check out my own copy of the Book of Enoch (Volume II of the edition by R.H Charles) and read through chs 37-70. The section is composed of three parables of how a messianic figure is going to basically raise, bring about the resurrection of the nation and defeat His enemies. In my own study I saw the references to which Wright alluded. Throughout the text there is reference to “Son of Man” and “The Riighteous Elect One”, both titles having allusions respectively to Daniel 7 and Isaiah 53:11. I only mentioned this stuff because the Book of Enoch was written roughly 100 years before the birth of Jesus, squarely situating these thoughts as being included in the world of 1st century Judaism.

    All of that to say that a Messianic interpretation of Isaiah 53 in 1st century Judaism would not had been outside the question. Certainly Jesus' resurrection from the dead gives us the credance for claiming His Messiahship. However that begs the huge questions: what brought about the death from whence He raised and was that death predicted?

    I personally still think that the Servant Songs of Isaiah (Isaiah 42, 49, 50, 52-53, 55) give us the clues we need to show that the crucifixion did indeed fit into the overall prophetic expectiations of the Messiah. Furthermore, Psalms 16 and 22 tie into this overal point of the predictions of crucifixion. No doubt the 2nd Temple, 1st century Judaism were looking for a conqueror. However they also leaned quite heavily on those chapters in Isaiah – which of course included Isaiah 53.

    We as Christians take the New Testament's treatment of Isaiah 53 to be authoritative. Sadly, our Jewish friends are veiled over in this present age and cannot see the full Messianic implications of Isaiah 53, as Paul spells out in Romans 11.


  4. Geza Vermes would also be a great scholar to look at on this subject. In a review of his book, “Jesus , the Jew” , it is written, “With an impressive analysis and a firm command of the sources, Vermes convincingly demonstrates that Jesus, as known to history through the Synoptic Gospels, fits comfortably in the mold of a Jewish charismatic of the 1st Century. In the remainder of his book, encompassing the second of his two-part examination of Jesus the Jew, Vermes plies through the titles given to Jesus in the New Testament, looking at each one in the context of Jewish beliefs and language of the period to understand its true meaning. He traces the development of each title from its earliest usage, as reflected in the Synoptic Gospels, through the doctrinal evolution of Christianity and the final redaction of Christian Scripture. Sure enough, Vermes manages to reasonably connect every title—with the exception of Messiah, which Vermes dismisses as out of place in the Synoptists and likely a later addition—to Jesus’ early depiction as a Hasid, a pious, charismatic miracle-worker.”

    Thank you for allowing me to comment.


  5. Pastor Mahlon, Thank you for the scholarly work that you share here, over and over. I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

    God bless you,


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