We all know that the Jews at that time hoped for the arrival of the Messiah, but when the Messiah really came, not only did they not accept Him, but they also resisted Him. What could the ultimate reason be for this? We can dissect and understand this matter from the following several aspects.
1. The Jews delineated the Lord Jesus’ work based on the words of the Bible prophecies.
Let’s see how the Jews understood the prophecies of the coming of Messiah.
In the books of the prophets in the Old Testament, there were prophecies about the coming of the Messiah: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa 7:14). “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder…. on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this” (Isa 9:6-7). “But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall he come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel” (Mic 5:2).
At that time, the Jews were ruled by the Roman government and longed for the coming of the Messiah. However, their understanding of the coming of the Messiah was based on the words of the prophecies. They thought the Messiah should be born into a royal palace and to a virgin female, with an extraordinary grace and a kingly demeanor, and that since He would come to rule, then He should, like David, lead them to defeat the enemies and to overthrow the rule of the Roman government and rescue them from the oppression and misery inflicted by the Roman government. However, the truth and their notions and imaginings were like night and day. The Lord Jesus was indeed the coming Messiah, but He was not born into a royal palace—He was born in a manger. And from the outside, His mother Mary was not a virgin—she had gotten married with Joseph. And also the Lord Jesus did not live in a house of nobles, but He lived in a very average carpenter’s home. Furthermore, He did not look extraordinary—He looked no different from the most ordinary man. What was particularly out of line with their notions was that the Lord Jesus did not act as their king and lead them to overthrow the rule of the Roman government as they had imagined. Instead, He instructed them to confess their sins and repent, to practice forgiveness and tolerance, and to love their enemies. Because the Lord Jesus was totally different from the Messiah in their imaginings, they stubbornly held on to their own conceptions and imaginations, did not accept or believe the Lord Jesus was the Messiah that they had been waiting for. Even the chief priests and the Pharisees who served God disparaged the Lord Jesus as a carpenter’s son from Nazareth, and said that He loved to eat and drink wine. They also did everything possible to resist, condemn and disparage Him, and finally, they nailed Him to the cross based on the excuse that “Jesus has taken the name of God in vain and has not obeyed the law”, thus committing a monstrous sin.
2. They relied on their notions and imaginations to delimit God and rejected the coming of the Messiah.
God’s words say: “Do you wish to know the root of why the Pharisees opposed Jesus? Do you wish to know the substance of the Pharisees? They were full of fantasies about the Messiah. What’s more, they believed only that the Messiah would come, yet did not seek the truth of life. … They opposed Jesus because they did not know the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work, because they did not know the way of truth spoken by Jesus, and, furthermore, because they did not understand the Messiah. And since they had never seen the Messiah, and had never been in the company of the Messiah, they made the mistake of paying empty tribute to the name of the Messiah while opposing the substance of the Messiah by any means. These Pharisees in substance were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God is: No matter how profound Your preaching, no matter how high Your authority, You are not Christ unless You are called the Messiah.”
We can see from this paragraph that the root of the Jews’ resisting the Lord Jesus is that they delineated the Messiah’s coming within the prophecies in the Bible and treated it on the basis of their own notions and imaginations. When the work of the Lord Jesus was not in accordance with their conceptions and imaginations, they held on to their conceptions and imaginations and did not acknowledge that the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah.
As we all know, the work of the Lord Jesus in the Age of Grace was full of power. He fed five-thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, made a blind man see, a paralyzed person walk, and healed the lepers and raised the dead. All the people who followed the Lord Jesus received God’s blessings and enjoyed abundant grace. On top of that, the Lord Jesus said many words that were of benefit for life, such as “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat 4:17), “You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his flavor, with which shall it be salted? it is thereafter good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid” (Mat 5:13-14), “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mat 22:37). The words of the Lord Jesus could supply life for people, allowed people to know how to get along with others, and brought people in the Age of Grace a better path for practice.
From the words and work of the Lord Jesus we can see the expressions of the essence of the Lord Jesus, which common people do not possess, and thus we can make sure that the Lord Jesus was the One that would come in the prophecies. Just as it is recorded in the Bible that: “Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jhn 8:12). But the Jews did not understand the substance of the Lord Jesus and acknowledge that He was the Messiah. No matter how authoritative and powerful the words and work of the Lord Jesus were, they did not accept or acknowledge, but stubbornly held on to the prophecies in the Bible, and said that the Lord Jesus was not the One that would come because He was not called Messiah. From this we can see that their essential nature is defying God. They kept the name of Messiah but did not understand His substance, thus they resisted God by any means. Because of having no discernment, the Jews blindly worshipped and followed the top leaders of the Jewish faith to resist and condemn the Lord Jesus. In the end, they nailed the kind Savior Jesus to the cross, thus committing a heinous crime and provoking the disposition of God. As a result, they were punished by God.
3. In the matter of welcoming the Lord, we should absorb the lessons of the Jews’ resisting the Messiah.
From the fact that the Jews longed deadly for the Messiah but nailed Him to the cross when He came, we should learn lessons and avoid repeating the mistake of the Pharisees. In the matter of welcoming the Lord, we should not request things of God based on our notions and imaginations. The Lord Jesus once said: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (Jhn 16:12-13). And it is said in the prophecies in the Book of Revelation many times: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2-3). So, faced with the matter of the Lord’s coming, we should hold a heart of humble seeking and learn to hear the voice of God. This way, we can gain God’s enlightenment and guidance, understand the appearance and work of the Lord and thus receive God’s blessing.