This article combines a number of episodes in the New Testament and in Jewish tradition during his lifetime in which Jesus was rejected.
In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Mark there is an account of a visit by Jesus to his hometown with his followers. On the Sabbath, he enters a synagogue and begins to teach. It says that many who heard were 'astounded', and that they were offended, asking "is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary?". It adds that he could do no 'deeds of power there' except to heal a few sick people. Amazed at the community's lack of belief in him, Jesus observes that "Prophets are not without honour, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house." (Mark 6:1-6)
The account given in the Gospel of Matthew differs from this account by having those in the synagogue describe Jesus as the "son of the carpenter" and stating that he could not do many deeds of power (rather than none). (Matthew 13:54-58)
The Gospel of Luke moves this story to the beginning of Jesus' preaching in Galilee; according to Lutheran commentator Mark Allan Powell, this was done to introduce what follows. In this version, Jesus is described as performing a public reading of scripture; he claims to be the fulfillment of a prophecy at Isaiah 61:1-2. (Luke 4:16-30)
In Matthew and Mark the crowd is also described as referring to Jesus as being the brother of James, Simon, Joseph, and Judas (in Mark they also mention, but do not name, Jesus's sisters) in a manner suggesting that the crowd regards them as just ordinary people, and criticising Jesus' quite different behaviour.
Luke adds that Jesus recounted stories about how, during the time of Elijah, only a Sidonian woman was saved, and how, during the time of Elisha, though there were many lepers in Israel, only a Syrian was cleansed. This, according to Luke, caused the people to attack Jesus and chase him to the top of a hill in order to try to throw Jesus off, though Jesus slips away. Some scholars conclude that the historical accuracy of Luke's version is questionable, in this particular case citing that there is no cliff face in Nazareth. There are, however, several sharp precipices in the vicinity.
The negative view of Jesus' family may be related to the conflict between Paul the Apostle and Jewish Christians. A. N. Wilson suggests that the negative relationship between Jesus and his family was placed in the Gospels (especially in the Gospel of Mark) to dissuade early Christians from following the Jesus cult that was administered by Jesus’ family: "…it would not be surprising if other parts of the church, particularly the Gentiles, liked telling stories about Jesus as a man who had no sympathy or support from his family." Jeffrey Bütz is more succinct: "…by the time Mark was writing in the late 60s, the Gentile churches outside of Israel were beginning to resent the authority wielded by Jerusalem where James and the apostles were leaders, thus providing the motive for Mark’s antifamily stance… (p. 44)." Other prominent scholars agree (e.g., Crosson, 1973; Mack, 1988; Painter, 1999).
|Events in the|
|Life of Jesus|
according to the Gospels
|Book:Life of Jesus|
Matthew 21:42, Acts 4:11 and Mark 12:10 talk of Jesus as the stone which the builders (or "husbandmen") rejected. 1 Peter 2:7 discusses this rejection of Jesus. This references similar wording from Psalms 118:22.
According to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the Galilean cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, and the Decapolis did not repent in response to Jesus's teaching, so Jesus declared that the wicked cities of Tyre, Sidon, Sodom and Gomorrah would have repented; it will be more bearable for the latter cities on the Judgement Day, and Capernaum, in particular, will sink down to Hades (Matthew 11:23, Luke 10:13-15).
According to Luke 9:51-56, when Jesus entered a Samaritan village, he was not welcomed, because he was going on to Jerusalem. (There was enmity between the Jews and their temple in Jerusalem and Samaritans and their temple on Mount Gerizim.) His disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven on the village but Jesus reprimanded them and they continued on to another village.
John 6:60-6:66 records "many disciples" leaving Jesus after he said that those who eat his body and drink his blood will remain in him and have eternal life (John 6:48-59). In John 6:67-71 Jesus asks the Twelve Apostles if they also want to leave, but Peter responds that they have become believers.
Jesus is rejected in Judaism as a failed Jewish Messiah claimant and a false prophet by most Jewish denominations. However, Messianic Jewish congregations like Jews for Jesus have made the case that he is the Messiah promised by the Torah and the Prophets.
On the Jewish side, the accounts of Jewish rejection of Jesus are prominently featured in the Birkat haMinim of the Amidah and the Talmud. The Talmud indicates that Rabbi Gamaliel II directed Samuel ha-Katan to write another paragraph for the central Amidah-prayer, inveighing against (early Christian) informers and heretics, which was inserted as the twelfth paragraph in modern sequence (Birkat haMinim).
On the Christian side, the accounts of Jewish rejection of Jesus are prominently featured in the New Testament, especially John's gospel. For example, in 7:1-9 Jesus moves around in Galilee but avoids Judea, because "the Jews/Judeans" were looking for a chance to kill him. In 7:12-13 some said "he is a good man" whereas others said he deceives the people, but these were all "whispers", no one would speak publicly for "fear of the Jews/Judeans". Jewish rejection is also recorded in 7:45-52, 8:39-59, 10:22-42 and 12:36-43. 12:42 says many did believe, but they kept it private, for fear the Pharisees would exclude them from the Synagogue, see also Council of Jamnia.
According to Jeremy Cohen,
"[e]ven before the Gospels appeared, the apostle Paul (or, more probably, one of his disciples) portrayed the Jews as Christ's killers ... But though the New Testament clearly looks to the Jews as responsible for the death of Jesus, Paul and the evangelists did not yet condemn all Jews, by the very fact of their Jewishness, as murderers of God and his messiah. That condemnation, however, was soon to come."
Emil Fackenheim wrote in 1987:
"... Except in relations with Christians, the Christ of Christianity is not a Jewish issue. There simply can be no dialogue worthy of the name unless Christians accept—nay, treasure—the fact that Jews through the two millennia of Christianity have had an agenda of their own. There can be no Jewish-Christian dialogue worthy of the name unless one Christian activity is abandoned, missions to the Jews. It must be abandoned, moreover, not as a temporary strategy but in principle, as a bimillennial theological mistake. The cost of that mistake in Christian love and Jewish blood one hesitates to contemplate."
Rejection of Jesus
Samaritan woman at the well
| First Rejection at Nazareth
Matthew 4:13-16 & Luke 4:16-31
Calling of Matthew
Daughter of Jairus
| Second Rejection at Nazareth
Matthew 13:54-58 & Mark 6:1-6
John the Baptist Beheaded