Jesus “Used to Be Jewish”? That’s Not What the Gospels Say

By Bernard Starr /

When I interview Christians and Jews, I repeatedly hear “everyone knows Jesus was
Jewish.” But when I dig deeper, I discover that “everyone knows Jesus was Jewish”
really means “He used to be Jewish.”

Many believe that Jesus was born Christian and that He launched a new religion. For example, Jane, educated in Catholic school, agreed that Jesus was Jewish. But when I followed up with, “Did He remain Jewish throughout his life?” she answered, “Oh, no. He became a Christian and started Christianity.”

“When did that happen?” I asked. “When He was baptized by John the Baptist,” she answered confidently. “It says so right in the Bible.”

Noah, a young Jewish student at a small New England college, asked his Christian
fraternity brothers, “What was Jesus’ religion?” They stared at him as if he were an idiot.

After he pressed for an answer, they declared, “Christian, of course.” In fact, Jesus was born into a family of practicing Jews dedicated to Judaism. As prescribed in the Torah, He was circumcised on the eighth day after His birth. Throughout His life He was thoroughly committed to Judaism, the Torah, and Jewish practices.

He prayed in synagogues and taught Torah to “multitudes” of fellow Jews. And John the Baptist only baptized Jews to purify them for the expected arrival of the Jewish Messiah.

All this is stated clearly in the Gospels; Jane’s quote is not. To address the crucial question “Did the Jews kill Jesus?”—a charge that has echoed with deadly consequences since the crucifixion—we look at the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ arrest, trial and the events leading up to them.

The Gospels state explicitly who killed Jesus (John 10:17–18). Have you ever wondered what Jesus might say about virulent and enduring anti-Semitism? Indeed, what would the thoroughly Jewish Jesus have said to Church leaders, monarchs, and others who launched murderous acts such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, and genocides in His name?

Christians today, especially evangelicals, are eager to let go of long-standing
antagonisms and are reaching out to Jews in a spirit of reconciliation. But
memories of unspeakable persecution over many centuries are a barrier for
Jews to participate fully in the healing process.

Given this new environment, I appeal to my fellow Jews to drop the “Jesus”-phobia and accept Jesus as a faithful Jew—without having to embrace the claim that He was the Messiah.

To encourage this mindset, I point to the pantheon of false Jewish Messiahs
throughout history, many of whom were destructive to Judaism but are still
revered for their teachings, while Jesus is rejected. (Click to Source)


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