Jesus: "Public Enemy Number One"

by Larry Hafley

How do we explain the Jews' hatred of Jesus? What motivated them to kill him? If I had been a Jewish lawyer, here is the case I would have presented. (Let the reader understand that what follows is based upon the ignorance and envy of the day (Matthew 22:29; 27:18; John 5:39). It is written from the view of one who, through the blindness, prejudice, and hypocrisy of his time, refused to honestly consider the claims and credentials of the Christ. With that being understood, here is the case I would have made.)

First, he is a pretender, a charlatan, a fake, a phony, a fraud. This is seen in three areas:

  1. He has been accepted as one of our Rabbis, but he has no academic credentials (John 3:2; Matthew 13:54). Have any of our legitimately learned men received him as their scholarly equal (John 7:48)?
  2. Though he has been extolled as a prophet, he refuses to accept the traditions we have received (John 4:19; 7:40; Matthew 15:2; Mark 7:2-5). Surely, no true prophet would do this!
  3. Rumblings have been heard to the effect that he is our king. Such a claim is absurd. If he were our king, why did he not accept the ordination and coronation of the people (John 6:15)? Seeing that he is a "Rabbi" without a diploma, a "prophet" without respect for traditions, and a "king" without a throne, he is, therefore, to be rejected as a deceived deceiver (John 7:12).

Second, he is a "rabble-rouser." He is a provoker, a malcontent, a disturber of the people. This, too, is seen in three areas:

  1. Morally — He openly associates with immoral reprobates, causing consternation (Luke 15:1-2; 19:1-10).
  2. Politically — By claiming kingship, he is a rival to Caesar, which brings tumult and turmoil upon our heads from the Romans.
  3. Spiritually — He does not fast; rather he feasts! He has publicly violated the Sabbath. This confuses the people about their obligations to Moses' law. As Jews, we are the people of God, morally, politically, and spiritually; there is nothing else but this. Yet, this man continually causes upheaval by violating these vital areas which serve to define us as children of God!

Third, he undermines authority. No authority is sacred to this man!

  1. The Priests — Who among us has not heard him publicly decry and deny the piety of our priests? He shows no respect whatsoever for those who attend to the work of God as outlined in the word of God.
  2. The Temple — According to our law, we could have arrested him for his desecration of the temple precincts. Using violent, physical force, he has caused an uproar against those who serve in the temple (Matthew 21:12). We reserve judgment, at this time, about his ludicrous and blasphemous comparison of himself to the temple (Matthew 12:6; John 2:19-22).
  3. The Law — He fancies that he is above Moses' law! He says that he is "Lord of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:8). In all this he manifestly undermines authority by spurning its hold in every sacred sanctuary. If one desecrates and undermines the authority of the priests, the temple, and the law, what do we have left?

Fourth, his doctrine is heresy. He teaches:

  1. That Elijah has come — Certainly, we all await the promise of Malachi i.e., that Elijah shall come, but to point to John the Baptist as fulfillment is ridiculous.
    1. John himself denied that he was Elijah (John 1:21).
    2. John did not work miracles; Elijah did, so, how could John be Elijah (John 10:41)?
    3. Elijah protested against a wicked king; he did not project and protect him as lord (I Kings 18:18). Yet, John the Baptist, contrary to the nature of Elijah, projected a coming king; hence, John did not fit the mold of Elijah.
  2. That David will be king without being like himself — Imagine that! Yes, this Jesus says that David will indeed rule and reign, but that he will not do so as, or after the manner of, David. In other words, David will not be David! The prophets say that our Messiah, David, will smite his enemies, but this Jesus can only speak of an invisible kingdom with invisible weapons. Well, if so, we suppose he shall be satisfied with us as "invisible" subjects under his "invisible" scepter! To say David will come back as king without being a warrior is as silly as saying that Solomon will return as an ignorant pauper!
  3. That all our doctrines and traditions are wrong — He dismisses our denominations, especially the Pharisees and Sadducees, and condemns all their sacred traditions (Matthew 15:8-9; 16:12). Such arrogance! Such gall! Everyone is wrong but him (Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23; 15:13-14)! He thinks that just him and his little bunch are the only ones going to heaven!

Finally, we have shown that morally, politically, and spiritually this Jesus of Nazareth is an offense and affront to our nation. Accordingly, he must be removed. Even forgetting his blasphemous claims (which are the rantings of a mad man), that he is "equal with God" and that he is, in a special way, the Son of God—forgetting all that—is there any reason to spare him? No, the evidence is before you, and if you truly fear the God of Israel, the God of our fathers, you can return only one verdict that will sanctify our national soul, and that is the judgment of death. You can join in only one cry that will leave you justified, and that is, "Let him be crucified!"

Addendum:

Hopefully, this article will provide insight into the Jewish mind of Jesus' day. Further, it is hoped that you will see the subtle tactics of error that were employed to condemn the Son of God. These same ploys and plots are employed by the enemies of our Lord until this day. With knowledge of the truth and a study of the Bible, you can answer the arguments of the Jewish lawyer as presented above. So, likewise, using the same diligence, with all readiness of mind, and by searching the Scriptures daily, you may avoid falling into the same snares of error today (Acts 17:11).