Jesus' problems with the Jewish rulers

The Life of Jesus Christ - Chapter 10 - Jesus' arrest and appearance at court - Part 1

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An online Bible Study course by Barrie Wetherill about the life of Jesus. This book is in EasyEnglish Level B. Use the links below for other online Bible Study books and commentaries that will help you. Or go to the Word List, which explains words with a *star.

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As the time came nearer for Jesus to die, he had more and more difficulties to think about.

From the beginning, Jesus was in disagreement with the rulers. At that time most Jews thought that the *Messiah would be a strong soldier. He would free them from all their enemies. He would change the way that they lived. There would be freedom from the rule of their enemies. But the Jews were not expecting that the *Messiah would change their thoughts and attitudes.

Disagreements about God's law

Many Jewish rulers were *Pharisees. The *Pharisees understood the law of the Jews in the same way. They thought that it was only about behaviour. For example, the Bible says, 'Do not murder.' The *Pharisees knew that a murderer broke this law. But they did not realise that someone's cruel thoughts could also break this law. They thought that the command against adultery meant only the act of adultery. [Adultery means sex with someone else's husband or wife.] They did not think that these commands were also about thoughts. But wrong thoughts tempt people to do wrong actions.

In Matthew, we read what Jesus taught on a mountain. We call this ‘the Sermon on the Mount.’ Jesus taught people that the law was about more than our behaviour. For example, one command is: ‘Do not murder’. Jesus taught that anger against other people would break this law. The command against adultery included wrong sexy thoughts when we look at anyone (Matthew 5:27,28). These commands are like words on a sign. These commands show us how to live. They point to God’s standard. God is perfect, and he wants us to be perfect too. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus showed that the *Pharisees had wrong ideas about the law. They said that behaviour is important. They thought that the ceremonies of religion were important. They did not think about the thoughts of men. Jesus showed that often they wanted to avoid the correct meaning of the law. (Matthew 15:3-9)

Disagreements about the Sabbath [holy day]

The *Pharisees were very strict about the Sabbath. [The Sabbath was the 7th day of the week, which was the holy day for the Jews.] The *Pharisees were very angry when Jesus cured anyone on the Sabbath. (See. Matthew 12:9-14, especially verse 14). But they did not realise clearly that the law tells us to love other people.

Disagreements about traditions

There was another matter for disagreement. The *Pharisees said that everybody should wash their hands before food. This was their tradition. Today, it might seem unimportant. But the *Pharisees thought that small things like this were very important. Jesus answered this by these words:

Matthew 15:18-20 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart. These are the things that make someone ‘unclean’. [By unclean Jesus meant evil, or bad.] All these things begin in a person's heart: [We might use the word 'mind' instead of 'heart' today]

·  Evil thoughts

·  Murder

·  Sex with another man's wife

·  Any sex when the couple do not obey God's rules

·  Theft [that is, when a person steals something]

·  Lies

·  Untrue words about other people

This is the behaviour that makes someone ‘unclean’ [evil or bad]. If you do not wash your hands before a meal, that does not make you ‘unclean’ [evil or bad].

Jesus came to deal with the problem that is deep inside us. It is the problem of *sin. There were many disagreements. Every time, Jesus had an answer to the problem. Always, he showed that the *Pharisees did not understand God’s law.

As time went on, the number of these arguments and disagreements increased. We can read about them especially in the Book of Matthew.

Disagreements about Jesus' importance

There was a very important disagreement on Palm Sunday. [That was when Jesus rode in to Jerusalem, like a king, but in peace. People waved the branches of trees (called palm trees) as a welcome.] The crowd sang, ‘*Hosanna to the *Son of David’ (Mat 21:15-17). *Prophets had said that the *Messiah would have a welcome like this. But the *Pharisees were very angry.

Everything that happened in the last week, made matters worse. At last, the *Pharisees asked Jesus what his authority was. What was his authority for what he taught? What was his authority for what he did? For example, he had forced the evil traders to leave the *temple (Matthew 21:23-27). They hoped that Jesus would make mistakes in his answers. He never did. Jesus showed that he was wiser than they were. After this, they asked no more questions. They decided that they had to kill Jesus. That was the only way to keep their own power over the people. They thought that their power mattered more than Jesus' life.

By this time, Jesus had only very strong words to say to these people. He warned them that there would be a time of *judgement to come. See Matthew 23.


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