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Hated Without a Cause

Wrath is cruel. Anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? Proverbs 27:4


Indifference or Hate

On Tuesday of Holy Week, the scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees try to corner and entrap Jesus by challenging His teachings and attacking His credibility and character. To no surprise, they fail to find any fault in Him, and Jesus calls them out for being hypocrites (Read Matthew 21:23 - 23:39). In this post, we will talk about three main reasons why the Jewish leaders hated Jesus so much. What stirred up so much anger and hostility toward the One who came to die on the cross and save people from their sins?

There are only three types of people in the world. There is the person who believes in Jesus. There is the person who is indifferent about Jesus. And there is the person who hates Jesus. We often find that many people are indifferent about Jesus. However, many are still fairly complimentary toward Him, even though they don’t believe in Him. People often say things like, “I don’t believe Jesus was the Messiah or the Son of God, but I believe He was a good person and a good teacher. He could’ve been a prophet.” 

We also find that many people react with hostility toward Jesus and the Gospel Truth. In Scripture, these people were called the scribes, Sadducees, and the Pharisees. They hated Jesus so much that they wanted to kill Him (John 5) and stone Him to death (John 8 & 10). Jesus teaches us that murder begins in the heart (Mat 5:21-22), and if uncontrolled, manifests into murderous actions. The Jewish leaders hated Jesus in their hearts, and their hatred was evident by their actions when they plotted to kill Jesus, ultimately crucifying Him on the cross. They had so much hate in their heart for Jesus that they committed the most evil, murderous act this world has ever known.


Why did Jewish leaders hate Jesus so much? While there are likely many reasons, here are three main ones:


They were jealous of Jesus. Wrath is cruel. Anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? (Proverbs 27:4). Nothing stirs up more hate in the human heart than jealousy. Jesus was popular. He did miracles. He attracted huge crowds who wanted to listen to His every word and care about His every move. Furthermore, while the Pharisees placed heavy burdens on their people and treated them with contempt, Jesus put His arm around tax collectors and ate meals with them. The people felt loved by Jesus while they felt judged by the Pharisees. The Pharisees witnessed multitudes of people flocking to see and listen to Jesus at every opportunity. They were jealous because of His popularity and of His power which was demonstrated through His miracles.


They felt exposed by Jesus. Before Jesus’ arrival into the world, the scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees were the ones who thought they set the moral standard for everyone. They sat in the highest seats in the synagogue and were most revered for all their external virtue. But that’s all it was: external. The virtue was only a facade, and Jesus exposed them for their pretense:


Jesus said to the crowds and His disciples: “For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. (Mat 23:4-5).


And He said to the Jewish rulers, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! (v. 25-26) So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (v 28). (All of Matthew 23 is Jesus calling out the scribes and Pharisees)


In reality, Jesus was the perfect moral standard as the Truth incarnate, while the Pharisees were only a counterfeit. Nothing exposes a counterfeit more than the presence of the genuine. When someone can’t attack the truth, they attack the credibility and character of the truth-teller, and that’s exactly what the Pharisees do to Jesus. They felt threatened by Him so they attacked Him, even though there was nothing to attack.

The Pharisees were exposed by Jesus’ authenticity as He walked with true righteousness and holiness, and He spoke the truth in love. It doesn’t take brilliant discernment to tell the difference between the real and the counterfeit, in anything, especially when the two are lined up next to each other. While Jesus is the reason Christians rejoice because of His perfect righteousness, it made the Pharisees hate Him because He exposed them for what they truly were: fakes and phonies, self-righteous with empty words and unchanged hearts. The truth in Jesus didn't transform their hearts but exposed their unchanged status of condemnation. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:18).


They were afraid of Jesus. We know there can be no faith when there's fear. The two can't coexist. The Pharisees were full of fear. They weren’t afraid of Jesus' judgment and eternal wrath (what they should’ve truly feared). Rather, they were afraid of what would happen to their wordly status and power on Earth. They were in a high position of power and authority and didn’t want to lose that prestige. They feared the Romans too. They were afraid that Jesus would somehow lead an insurrection and cause a revolt against Rome, which would bring war and death to them. Their fear blinded them and drove them to do everything they could to get rid of Jesus...eventually leading to the cross. Their own hate blinded them to the Truth, who literally stood right in front of them: Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. They couldn't see His truth, grace, and glory because they had no faith. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

It made no sense why the Jewish leaders hated Jesus so much, but that's what sin is. It's nonsense. They hated Him without a cause. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated Me without a cause' (John 15:25). They surround me with hateful words and attack me without a cause (Psalm 109:3).

Dear Heavenly Father,

I praise You for loving the world so much that You sent Your only Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. When Jesus died on the cross, He died for me too. When Jesus was raised from the dead, He was raised for me too. Father, thank You for choosing me before the foundation of the world, thank You Jesus for making the way possible for me to be saved, and thank You Holy Spirit for leading me in the Truth and guaranteeing my entrance into Your Heavenly Kingdom. All glory belongs to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior! In Jesus' name I pray Amen.


“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. Matthew 15:18-20

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:16-21


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