Why do Jews not accept Jesus as a god or a messiah?
The Short Answer:
Jews live in accordance with the teachings of Judaism, and Jesus clearly does not fit Judaism's definition of an infinite G-d or its description of an exile-gathering, temple-building, peace-yielding Messiah.
The Askmoses Answer:
When you take a look at the Jewish teachings about G-d it becomes obvious that no man is G-d. When you study the Jewish idea of Messiah it becomes evident that Jesus is not your man. And when you understand both of these concepts you realize that G-d and Messiah are not the same thing.
A. No Man Can Be a G-d. The Torah makes it clear that there is only one omnipotent, indivisible G-d: "The L-rd He is G-d; there is none else besides him".1 G-d is unique unto Himself, and does not consist of a trinity: "The L-rd He is G-d in heaven above and upon the earth below; there is none else".2 JC himself accepted G-d's uniqueness: "And he (JC) said unto him, 'Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, G-d"3 How, then, could a mortal man-one who was born and who died on a cross-be a segment of an immortal, indivisible G-d? There is no concept of infinity possible if G-d is a man or a Trinity. The Torah states clearly: "G-d is not a man".4
B. JC did not accomplish the tasks of the Messiah. If JC had indeed been the Messiah, he would have fulfilled the Messianic prophecies mentioned in Tanach. For instance, the Moshiach (Messiah) will bring about universal peace and tranquility: "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more".5 The Moshiach will bring about universal respect for G-d, and lead all people to follow His ways: "The knowledge of G-d will fill the earth. The world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the water covers the sea".6 He will cause an ingathering of the Jewish exiles: "Then the residue of his brethren shall return with the children of Israel"7 and will bring about the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdosh:. "In that day will I raise up the Tabernacles of David that is fallen".8 He will also bring physical cure to all who are sick: "Then the eye of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame man will leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb will sing".9 Furthermore, he will accomplish these tasks within his own lifetime: "He shall not fail or be crushed until he has set the right in the earth"10
The clear-cut fact is that JC did not fulfill any of these tasks. The Holy Temple in Jerusalem has not been rebuilt, and the Jews are still in exile. Suffering and pain still abound, and the world is certainly less religiously-inclined today than it was during JC's day. Immorality, corruption, and crime are definitely in evidence to this very day, and the past 2,000 years have seen one war after another.
If the Messiah has already come, why is the world in such a sad state?
Christian theology has come up with the explanation that JC will reappear during a Second Coming, when he will finally fulfill the Messianic prophecies. But there is no reference to such a delayed second coming of the same Messiah anywhere in the Torah. So while it might work for others, it doesn't work for Judaism.
C. JC did not keep Jewish law. The Moshiach is expected to keep all the laws of the Torah, and to inspire others to do likewise.11 However, at times JC considered himself to be above the law: "For the Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath".12 He broke the laws of the Sabbath part of the Ten Commandments-and reviled the Rabbis, who are accorded great respect by the Torah. JC did not even always espouse peace: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword".13 Can one who denies G-d's sacred law be His Messiah?
D. Lack of Jewish support. JC lived at the time of Roman suppression of the Jews. The Jewish people eagerly looked forward to the arrival of the Moshiach. They were certainly well-versed in the requirements to be filled by the true Moshiach, and would definitely have accepted the Moshiach if it was clear that he had appeared. Yet the Jews of that time—and especially the learned Sages—rejected JC' claims to be the Messiah. They knew and saw JC in the flesh, and found him wanting; on the other hand, Paul of Tarsus, who established the Christian religion, never knew JC personally. If JC were indeed the Messiah, why did his fellow Jews, who had every reason to want a Messiah, almost unanimously reject him?
E. Faulty proofs. In an attempt to bring Jews over to "their side", Missionaries often say that they have Biblical proof of JC' divinity or Messianic role. However, these arguments often rely on misquotes and faulty reasoning.
One such "proof" comes from Isaiah 7:14, which they translate as follows: "Behold the virgin is with child, and she will bear a son, and his name will be called Immanuel." The unsuspecting individual might think that this is a prophecy of the New Testament's account of JC' birth. However, one who studies the verse in its original Hebrew will note that the term used is “almah”, which means "young woman", not "virgin". (The Hebrew word for virgin is “besulah”).14 The verse actually refers to a child who will be born in the time of king Ahaz (as a sign that he would be victorious in a war); this incident has nothing at all to do with the Moshiach, and occurred more than 500 years before Jesus was born.15
Another supposed "proof" is the verse: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrasah, which are little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of you shall come forth ' onto Me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose going forth are from old, from ancient days."16
Missionaries claim that this refers to JC, who they say was born in Bethlehem. But the verse really refers to the fact that the Moshiach will come from the lineage of King David, who was born in Bethlehem. And Christians cannot claim that JC came from King David, for the lineage follows the father, and they say that JC had no earthly father.
Finally, there is the so-called "proof" from Isaiah 53, which refers to a "Suffering Servant". Missionaries will say that this means JC, who suffered on the cross. But the term "servant", when used elsewhere in Isaiah, refers to the Jewish nation, whose members are G-d's dedicated servants. They have certainly suffered throughout the years-yet they have survived for a long time, unlike JC, who died childless at the age of 33, and the verse refers to the servant's prolonged days and "seed" (children).17
There are other such arguments, with accurate and concise Jewish responses to each.
Based on a reprint from L'hovin U'lhaskil - A Guide to Torah Hashkofoh by Rabbi Eliezer Gevirtz (Feldheim 1988)
Republished with permission from www.moshiach.com