Who Has Believed Our Report?

The nation of Israel’s rejection of Yeshua was tragic—but it was also foretold centuries earlier by the Prophet Isaiah.

Artwork from the Torah Club Jesus, My Rabbi study, lesson "Hour of Glory". (Image and art © First Fruits of Zion)

The writer of the Gospel of John concludes his presentation of Yeshua’s public teaching ministry with a brief evaluation of the Jewish response:

Though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report?” (John 12:37-38)

Messiah remains—even now—effectively hidden away from His brethren, the Jewish people. The assessment in John 12:37 echoes the words of John’s prologue: “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). The failure of the Jewish people to recognize and receive the promised Messiah troubled the apostles, but they ultimately saw the Jewish reaction as a fulfillment of prophecies about the Messiah.

Theologians sometimes speak in broad generalizations of the “Jewish rejection” of Yeshua, but the Gospels tell us that vast numbers of Jewish people became believers during and shortly after the brief ministry of Yeshua. “Many even of the rulers believed in Him” (John 12:42). According to the Gospels, Yeshua enjoyed the popular acclaim of multitudes in the first century.

Nevertheless, even in the Apostolic Era, the majority of the Jewish people and religious leaders did not accept the messianic claims of Yeshua of Nazareth. Our Master did not take the throne of David, subjugate the nations, gather in the exiles of Israel, and usher in the Messianic Era. Therefore, His messianic claims must be taken on faith. Not everyone was willing to make such a leap of faith.

The Gospel of John explains the Jewish rejection as a fulfillment of a prophecy from Isaiah:

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? (Isaiah 53:1)

The prophecy invokes the larger context of the entire song of the suffering servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). The Gospel of John alludes to this text to remind readers that, even though Yeshua of Nazareth has not yet fulfilled all the prophecies concerning Messiah and Israel, He did fulfill the important prophecy of Isaiah’s suffering servant. That same prophecy predicted that the message about the suffering servant would not be universally accepted or revealed. In light of the prophecy, the Gospel of John presents the Jewish rejection of Yeshua as a sovereign act of God foretold by Isaiah when “he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.” He quotes Isaiah 6 to that effect, as do Matthew and Mark (Matthew 13:14-15 and Mark 4:10-11):

For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. (John 12:39-41)

The author of the Gospel of John wrote His gospel during the troubling years after the Sanhedrin at Yavneh had begun their attempt to expel believers from the synagogues. He lived long enough to see Isaiah’s prophecies already take shape as mainstream Jewish opinion began to definitively exclude Yeshua and disregard the claims of His followers:

He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:3)

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This year Torah Clubs are studying the Gospels from a Messianic Jewish perspective. Every week Club members encounter Yeshua of Nazareth in his Jewish context. Discover the historical and cultural backdrops of the gospels and be amazed as the teachings of Yeshua snap into focus and clarity. Unravel his difficult words and parables; study Jewish parallels to his teachings; and ultimately know Jesus better.

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