Oh, how the Pharisees hated Jesus. They despised His teaching. They abhorred His choice of company. They detested His methods. They accused Him of blasphemy, demonic possession, and even treason. All of this animosity toward one man – it seems a bit much to me.
After all, they were all Hebrews, and one would think living in an occupied land controlled by another nation would serve to unite countrymen during such a time. They could hate the Romans together. It’s in peace time, when everything is prosperous, when we have the luxury of hating our fellows.
So what could motivate the kind of violent hatred?
Perhaps it was religious fervor – the Pharisees saw Jesus as an affront to the holiness and sanctity of God.
Maybe it was Jesus’ own attitude – He certainly didn’t try to impress or coddle them. That whole “brood of vipers” thing probably didn’t make alot of friends.
But maybe there was something else, too. Perhaps it was the fact that in Jesus, the Pharisees saw everything they wished for themselves and yet knew they could never be. It makes sense – We often hate those who embody what we most wish we ourselves could be.
Salieri saw in Mozart everything he wanted to be himself. And he saw in Mozart everything he could not be.
These Pharisees, with all their attempts to live perfectly according to the law and fullfill its demands, saw in Jesus one who was actually doing it. And not just doing it, but feeling it. The obedience of Jesus was real, not fabricated. It was emotional, not stale. It was full of love, not obligation. And try as they might, they knew they could never live, or love, like Him.
Oh, how they hated Him.
But oh, how He loved them. He loved the Pharisees, and all of the tough talk was spoken with an urgency for them to simply own up to the fact that they could not live like Jesus. And because they couldn’t, they needed what only He could provide: a new heart. A born again heart. Jesus was ready to give them that.
Thank God, He still is.