The rabbis claim that Jesus was a false prophet who incited the people of Israel and lead them astray into idolatry. They base this on what is written in Deuteronomy 18:20: “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.” This verse says that a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods should be put to death, and that such prophet is considered a false prophet. Rabbi Menashe Yisrael, while referring to this verse, claims that Jesus, “Deteriorated to idolatry, bewitched, incited and caused Israel to sin.”
The early rabbinical literature painted a picture in which the disciples of Jesus worshiped three different gods, and therefore today, they accuse Jesus, his disciples, and us, of believing in three gods. But anyone who will read the New Testament for themselves will come to the conclusion that the truth is quite the opposite, as we explain here.
Jesus and his disciples always pointed to the God of Israel, to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and commanded them to worship Him and only Him. Jesus always pointed everyone to his heavenly Father, to the God of Israel; through the miracles he performed, in the things he said, and in the way he lived. He lived, died and rose from the dead in order to glorify God, and he did so as a Jew. He didn’t cause anyone to worship idols; on the contrary, He turned all who followed him towards God. Many gentiles who were worshiping other gods and pagan practices came to believe in the one God of Israel. And today, thanks to Jesus, the God of Israel is known in thousands of languages and dialects throughout the world.
In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 15 and in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 5, Jesus performed signs and wonders before the people of Israel; he healed the lame, the crippled, the blind, the mute and did many other miracles. When the people saw the mute speaking, the lame walking and blind seeing, they all were filled with awe and began to sing and praise… who? The God of Israel. Why? Because they linked Jesus and the miracles they saw him do to the God of Israel. Also the things that Jesus taught when he spoke to the people always glorified the God of Israel.
Below are a few examples:
Jesus said: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16) or
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 5:44-45) or
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mt. 6:9-10)
Isn’t it ironic that today, this Jewish prayer is considered as the Catholics’ prayer!? The Kingdom and the desire of his heavenly Father were central in Jesus’ life and work. He always paved the way to the God of Israel, and not to some foreign pagan idol. Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn. 14:6) Jesus turned anyone who came to him, to his heavenly Father, to the God of Israel. The Messiah is the way to get to our heavenly Father. Thanks to Jesus, gentiles, former idolaters and many pagans forsook their idols and began worshiping the God of Israel! This fact, that suddenly thousands of gentiles who are not Jews, are worshiping the God of Israel, is proof that Jesus is indeed the Messiah; The Old Testament prophesies that one of the main roles of the Messiah was to bring faith in the God of Israel to all the nations. And that is exactly what Jesus did.
The rabbis might forbid reading the New Testament, or even having one in your house, but those who dare to check it out for themselves find that the New Testament does not suggest worshiping several gods, or indeed any form of idolatry. Neither does it seek to invent a new religion. As the people of Israel, who live in the daily reality, sometimes we can be so focused on ourselves and on what the rabbis say that we forget the promise that God Himself gave to our father Abraham in the book of Genesis: The promise that the Messiah would come through his seed and would be a blessing to all the nations of the world – to all the peoples, and not only the Jewish people.
In Genesis 12:3, God says to Abraham “and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God’s vision was always to reach all nations, not just one people. Today, the more religious you are, the more distant you get from the gentiles, but God chose the people of Israel, so that through them he could reach the rest of the nations. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has now reached all the nations, thanks to Jesus the Messiah.
See for example Pliny, Governor of Bithynia in minor Asia during the first century. Pliny wrote to Emperor Trajan that he was executing a huge number of men, women and children who were no longer willing to bow to Trajan’s statues, since according to him, they now believed in the God of Israel… because of Jesus. When you read the things that Jesus’ Jewish disciples said, as documented in the New Testament, you see the exact same message: Through Jesus the Messiah, both Jews and Gentiles can nurture a close relationship with the God of Israel. Did you know that in the New Testament, there are more than 1,200 references to the God of Israel; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? The point is clear: Jesus the Messiah turned ALL people to worship the God of Israel.
Think about it, Jesus was the only prophet who walked the earth who efficiently fulfilled his role to bring people closer to the God of Israel. Thanks to him, millions of Gentiles love the God of Israel, serve and worship him, and all that, in the name of Jesus – the Jewish Messiah. The problem is that the rabbis prefer to keep the power in their hands; they love the control and the right to tell everyone what to do and how to live, even if it means that they need to conceal the Messiah from you, under the pretense that he is a false prophet.