· The religious leaders were jealous of Jesus because “he taught as one who had authority and not as the teachers of the law!” (Matthew 7:29).
· The Pharisees were angry because Jesus refused to honor their rules of clean and unclean. “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11)
· Unable to deny his miracles, the religious leaders claimed Jesus wielded Satan’s power! “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.” (Matthew 9:32)
· Jesus valued people over rituals to the point of making the Pharisees plot to kill him. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. (Matthew 12:14)
· The religious leaders understood that many of Jesus’ parables were attacks against their abuse of authority! When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. (Matthew 21:45-46)
· The religious leaders decided to kill Jesus, but they were afraid of the people. Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” (Matthew 26:3-5)
Most of us have a tendency to dismiss people who make us uncomfortable, push us to painful growth, or threaten our perceived best interest. Jesus was a serious threat to those who thought they had it all figured out!
Since Jesus did not submit to their authority or give in to their bullying, the religious leaders dismissed Jesus with the charge of blasphemy. It is ironic that they ignored the words and the signs of Jesus which were clearly powered by God, choosing instead to reject Jesus in the name of defending God! There was some blasphemy happening at the trial of Jesus, it was just the opposite of their legal verdict!
Pilate knew the religious leaders handed Jesus over to him out of their own self-interest. He decided to dismiss Jesus and crucify him, despite pronouncing him not guilty, despite knowing the jealousy of the Jewish leaders, simply because it was the easiest way to solve his problem that Friday morning. Truth is often a victim of expediency.
Jesus warned his disciples that it was a constant tension to be more interested in the things of men rather than the things of God. Charging your opponents with blasphemy does not change the truth. Washing your hands and claiming your innocence is never enough to destroy the truth! The problem with truth is, while you can easily and efficiently dismiss it, it does not cease to be true because of your refusal to believe it.
Truth is made for acceptance and obedience. Jesus as the way, the truth and the life, is calling us all to follow him! Are you walking?
- Kenny Payne