“Nothing is as frustrating as arguing with someone who knows what he’s talking about,” wrote Sam Ewing.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time constantly tried to trap Jesus with trick questions. They must have come away frustrated every time they talked with Jesus.
Jesus came from the presence of his Father in heaven. The religious leaders came from debates about fine points of their law and traditions. Jesus knew the spiritual realities of which he spoke and taught. He listened to his Father day and night. The religious leaders listened to each other and to the writings of deceased rabbis.
“They don’t really want Jesus to exist,” says Presley, 6. “People should be thankful for Jesus.”
Jesus upset the religious/government establishment in Jerusalem. There was no separation between religion and the state in Jerusalem. The conquering Romans ruled Judea through Jewish religious leaders, who knew they were accountable to the Roman governor.
The best evidence that the religious establishment didn’t want Jesus to exist is his trials before his crucifixion. Jesus was tried before Annas, the former high priest. Next, he came before Caiaphas, the current high priest and the Sanhedrin (John 18:12-14 & Matthew 26:57). The Sanhedrin was like Israel’s Supreme Court. It consisted of 70 men and the high priest.
The Jewish Mishna states, “Let a capital offense be tried during the day, but suspend at night.” Jesus’ trials before Jewish religious leaders were held before dawn.
“The Pharisees thought he was not the Son of God,” says Jonathan, 7.
Yes, the Pharisees, a Jewish religious sect, were always arguing with Jesus. Ironically, they believed in the inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures and even the resurrection of the dead. But most of them rejected Jesus’ claims of deity. The notable exception may have been Nicodemus, a leader of the Pharisees.
Jesus spoke his most famous words to Nicodemus when he said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).
We next hear from Nicodemus when the officers of the high priest and Pharisees were sent to arrest Jesus, but returned empty handed. The officers said, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46).
Nicodemus came to the officers’ defense when he said, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (John 7:51).
It appears Nicodemus carefully examined Jesus and his ministry because he and Joseph of Arimathea claimed the body of Jesus, wrapped it and placed it in a tomb (John 19:38-42).
“They thought Jesus was doing something bad to their people,” says Mikayla, 7.
When Jesus claimed to be Israel’s Messiah, it meant that his authority would be greater than the Jewish rulers (the high priest and Sanhedrin). On two different occasions, Jesus drove money changers and merchants out of the temple (John 2:13-17 & Matthew 21:12-13). Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of religious leaders and they hated him for it. Jesus disrupted the religious system.
Think about this: If you grew up in a religious system, you may have to do some disrupting of your own. If you want to accept the gift of eternal life that Jesus offers freely to all who believe in him, you’ll have to reject any religious system that promises eternal life based on self effort and good works.
Memorize this truth: John 3:16 previously quoted.
Ask this question: Can you reject false religion for the everlasting life that Jesus offers freely?