Written by R.C. Sproul | Saturday, February 15, 2020
A lot of things had happened between the day of the formation of the Pharisees and the time of Jesus’ incarnation, when they masqueraded as devotees of righteousness and obedience. In a word, they were counterfeit. They were fake. And nothing reveals a counterfeit like the presence of the genuine.
When you talk to people who are non-Christians today, they are usually very complimentary of Jesus. They’ll say: “I don’t believe that He was the Messiah, and I don’t believe that He was the Son of God, but Jesus was certainly a great person. He was a great teacher. Maybe He was prophet.”
But this kind of high regard for Jesus is by no means universal. Even in Scripture, we find people who reacted to Jesus with hostility, and chief among these people are the scribes and Pharisees. We read in Luke 20 that the scribes and the chief priests sought to have Jesus arrested. In John 5, we are told that they wanted to kill Him, and in chapters 8 and 10, they tried to stone Him.
When we read these accounts in Scripture, we are prompted to ask, Why did these people speak the way they did and feel the way they did with such hostility toward Jesus? It’s difficult to provide a complete answer as to why they were motivated in this way, but here are three reasons why the religious authorities hated Jesus so much.
The first is this: they were jealous of Him. Why would they be jealous of the Son of God? Everywhere Jesus went, He attracted huge throngs, multitudes, crowds pressing around to listen to His every word, watching His every move. He was profoundly popular among the people, whereas the rulers of the Jews laid heavy burdens on their people, and they approached the masses, the people of the earth, with something like a spirit of disdain and scorn. While they wouldn’t think of having dinner with a tax collector, Jesus freely associated with people whom the Pharisees considered “rabble.”
The people loved Jesus, and they received Him gladly, but what they felt from the Pharisees was judgment.