Why Did the Pharisees Oppose the Lord Jesus?

By Li Yue

Dear brothers and sisters,

May you share in the Lord’s inner peace! Every one of us knows about with the Pharisees, who in the Age of Law were the highest leaders of Judaism with intimate knowledge of the Bible and laws. They had been yearning for the coming of the Messiah for generations, but when the Lord Jesus appeared and began to work, they frantically resisted and condemned Him, and eventually nailed Him to the cross, thus committing a heinous crime. The Lord Jesus cursed them many times, saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matthew 23), pronouncing seven woes upon them. However, most brothers and sisters can’t see through the source and substance of the Pharisees’ resisting the Lord. They think that the Pharisees knew the Bible well, and some even traversed oceans and continents to spread the gospel; they frequently expounded the Bible to people in the synagogues, stood before people to pray, and looked very reverent on the outside, but how come they did such evil deeds of resisting and condemning the Lord Jesus? What is the reason behind this? As to this question, my co-workers and I discussed with each other many times, yet we failed to get a satisfactory answer. Recently, I met a preacher who has believed in the Lord for many years, and through his patient fellowship, I finally understood that the Pharisees’ resisting and condemning the Lord Jesus was not incidental, but was determined by their substance. Now is a key time for welcoming the arrival of the Lord. In order to avoid walking the God-resisting path of the Pharisees and doing the evil deeds of opposing God and condemning God, it’s necessary that we communicate about the reason why the Pharisees opposed God. May the Lord lead us! Now I’d like to share with you my understanding about this issue.

Pharisees,Bible study

First, the Pharisees were arrogant and truth-hating by nature.

Two thousand years ago when the Lord Jesus came to the earth to work, He expressed the way of repentance, and often taught men, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30–31). He also taught men that they should be tolerant and patient to others, forgive others seventy times seven times, love their enemies, and so on. During His work, the Lord Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, bestowed an abundance of grace on men, and performed many signs and wonders, such as feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, making the lame walk and the blind see, calming the wind and sea, and resurrecting the dead with just one sentence. The work of the Lord Jesus shook up the whole Jewish state. Many people saw that His work and word had authority and power and could show man the way to practice, from which they recognized that the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah and thus began to follow Him. And many people were spreading the Lord Jesus’ name and bearing witness to His work. The Pharisees, though having witnessed the authority and power of the Lord’s words, didn’t seek or investigate His work at all. Instead, they concluded that the work of the Lord Jesus overstepped the Old Testament, condemned Him by saying that He didn’t observe the Sabbath, and tempted Him. The Bible records that on the Sabbath, the Lord Jesus led His disciples to work, and that when they got hungry, they plucked and ate ears of grain. Because of this, the Pharisees condemned the Lord Jesus for His not keeping the laws and commandments, and judged Him, saying, “This man is not of God, because he keeps not the sabbath day” (John 9:16). There are also records about the Pharisees’ asking the Lord Jesus what authority He used to perform miracles, whether they could pay taxes to Caesar, and whether He was the Son of God, Christ, etc. The Lord Jesus struck back at their evil plans with truth and wisdom. Yet the Pharisees still didn’t seek the truth in the slightest, but seized upon every chance to condemn the Lord Jesus, and even crucified Him. From the Pharisees’ judgment on as well as their condemnation and temptation of the Lord, it can be seen that they were arrogant by nature without a shred of reverence or obedience to God, and that they were not lovers of the truth at all.

Later, I came across the following passage, “Do you wish to know the root of why the Pharisees opposed Jesus? Do you wish to know the substance of the Pharisees? They were full of fantasies about the Messiah. What’s more, they believed only that the Messiah would come, yet did not seek the truth of life. And so, even today they still await the Messiah, for they have no knowledge of the way of life, and do not know what the way of truth is. How, say you, could such foolish, stubborn and ignorant people gain God’s blessing? How could they behold the Messiah? They opposed Jesus because they did not know the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work, because they did not know the way of truth spoken by Jesus, and, furthermore, because they did not understand the Messiah. And since they had never seen the Messiah, and had never been in the company of the Messiah, they made the mistake of paying empty tribute to the name of the Messiah while opposing the substance of the Messiah by any means. These Pharisees in substance were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God is: No matter how profound Your preaching, no matter how high Your authority, You are not Christ unless You are called the Messiah. Are these views not preposterous and ridiculous?” (“When You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus Will Be When God Has Made Anew Heaven and Earth”). These words have clearly revealed the root of why the Pharisees resisted the Lord Jesus. They in substance were arrogant and stubborn; they neither sought the truth nor obeyed the truth, but delimited God within their own conceptions and imaginations, and within the letters of the Bible, holding on to the view that when God came, His name must be Messiah, and that anyone who was not called the Messiah was not God. That is why they refused to acknowledge the Lord Jesus as the Messiah no matter how profound and correct His preaching was, how much authority and power His words had, or how beneficial they were to people. They even did all they could to condemn the Lord Jesus and denied the fact that He was Christ and God Himself. The Pharisees had no real knowledge of God, and they were so arrogant and conceited that they took their own conceptions and imaginings as the truth and only obeyed the God conjured up by their imaginations without the slightest intention to seek or pursue the truth. It’s just as the Lord Jesus’ revelation of the Pharisees, “But now you seek to kill me, a man that has told you the truth, which I have heard of God. … And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8:40, 46). It’s evident that the Pharisees were arrogant, stubborn and truth-hating by nature, and that they in essence were the devil Satan, the enemies of God.

Second, the Pharisees loved status, and to protect their status and livelihood, they frenziedly resisted the Lord Jesus.

When the Lord Jesus was preaching and working, He expressed many truths, bestowed upon man the way of repentance, and performed many miracles, which led to more and more people following Him. Seeing this, the Pharisees harbored hatred in their hearts, because they clearly knew that if the Lord Jesus continued what He was doing, then all Jewish believers would soon be following Him. In that case, no one would enter the temple to offer sacrifices or a tithe, much less would anyone worship and look up to them or revolve around them, and soon all of Judaism would be paralyzed and shut down, or even worse, be overturned. As a result, to protect their own status and livelihood, the Pharisees did their utmost to resist, condemn and frame the Lord Jesus, spreading all kinds of rumors to block people from following Him, and were itching to crucify Him. When the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross, the sun became dark, the earth shook and the curtain of the temple split open, and three days later He was resurrected. After learning of these facts, many people repented for their sins and turned to the Lord Jesus. The Pharisees, however, still refused to repent, and even paid off the soldiers to bear false witness and say the Lord Jesus hadn’t been resurrected. When the apostles spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus, the Pharisees frantically captured and persecuted them, obstructing the spreading of the gospel. Not only did they themselves blaspheme and condemn the Lord Jesus, but they also incited and deluded believers into resisting and condemning Him. It can be seen from these facts that the Pharisees particularly loved status, esteemed power, and pursued to be worshiped and looked up to by others. They waved the banner of serving God on the outside, but in reality were serving their status and livelihood; they were actually vying with God over status, and were resisting and competing with God. They wanted to ban the Lord Jesus’ work to obtain their ambitions of permanently controlling the whole of Judaism and establishing their own independent kingdom. This completely showed their truth-hating and God-hating satanic nature. Just as the Bible records, “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man does many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. … Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death” (John 11:47–48, 53). These verses tell us how the Pharisees did everything in their power to protect their status and livelihood. They attacked, discredited and condemned the Lord Jesus with deliberate malice. They would rather commit monstrous sins, resist God and offend God, and have their sons and grandsons cursed than not nail the Lord Jesus to the cross—He who expressed the truth and redeemed mankind. Obviously, God did not have even the smallest place in the hearts of the Pharisees, and they regarded their positions and meal-tickets above all else. That is why when God’s work threatened their positions and meal-tickets, they could go so far as to kill Him. They were none other than the antichrists who were in opposition and enmity to God, the evil servants who devoured men’s souls and lured them into hell. Therefore, the Lord Jesus denounced the Pharisees with the “Seven Woes” due to their evil behavior. This fully shows God’s holy and righteous disposition which cannot be offended.

Let’s share another passage of words, “Those who read the Bible in grand churches recite the Bible every day, yet not one understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one is able to know God; moreover, not one is in accord with the heart of God. They are all worthless, vile men, each standing on high to teach God. Though they brandish the name of God, they willfully oppose Him. Though they label themselves believers of God, they are ones who eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such men are devils who devour the soul of man, head demons who purposefully disturb those who try to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks that impede the path of those who seek God” (“All Who Do Not Know God Are Those Who Oppose God”). The Pharisees appeared devout on the outside, and were familiar with the Scripture and proficient in the statutes and ordinances; they frequently expounded the Scripture to people in the synagogues, and paid special attention to engaging in religious rituals and following regulations. However, they did not revere God or humbly search for the truth, and could even frantically oppose and condemn God’s work. This was enough to show that the Pharisees did not have the slightest understanding of God’s will, and that they neither focused on practicing God’s words nor obeyed God’s commandments. Everything they did was completely in opposition to God’s will and requirements, and was part of their attempt to deceive and constrain others. They only sought to establish themselves so they would be worshiped, and to manage and consolidate their own positions and meal-tickets. They traveled down a false path of hypocrisy and resistance to God, and they in essence were the antichrists who hated the truth and God!

The failure of the Pharisees who believed in God yet resisted God is a lesson worth our absorbing. We mustn’t repeat the Pharisees’ mistake of being someone who is arrogant, stubborn and truth-loathing, much less should we blindly cling to our own notions and imaginations and rely on them to define the Lord’s return. Now there are many brothers and sisters holding the view that since the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven upon a white cloud after His crucifixion and resurrection, He shall descend among us upon a white cloud when He comes back. It’s an undeniable fact that the Lord Jesus will publicly appear, but there are many prophecies of the Lord regarding His return, and thus we can’t just pay attention to some of them while neglecting all the others, like “Behold, I come as a thief” (Revelation 16:15), “For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day” (Luke 17:24), and “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:20). We are unable to fathom how the Lord Jesus will return, so we can’t comprehend His coming according to the literal meaning of the scriptures or define it relying on our conceptions and imaginations. Instead, we should come before God more to seek the truth with a God-fearing heart, and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Only in this way can we avoid making the mistake of believing in God while resisting Him like the Pharisees. When it comes to the matter of welcoming the Lord, we should be the wise virgins and learn to hear the voice of God. The Lord Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12–13). And it is prophesied many times in the Book of Revelation, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2, 3). These verses tell us that when the Lord Jesus comes back in the last days, He will express more of the truth. As only Christ is the truth, the way, and the life, He who can express the truth is surely the returned Lord. Therefore, we should have a heart that fears God and be a person who is willing to accept the truth. When someone testifies the return of the Lord to us, we must not blindly condemn Him, but should wisely investigate and diligently see if the words He expresses are the truth. and whether they are the spoken utterances of the Holy Spirit. This is the only way for us to welcome the Lord’s return.

Peace be with you all! Dear brothers and sisters, if you have any understanding or enlightenment from God, you’re welcome to share with us.
1. Via the online chat window at the bottom right corner of the screen.
2. Send an email to [email protected].
We sincerely hope we’ll grow spiritually through sharing with each other.

Bible Reading Made Easy App: Read the Bible Anytime and Walk With the Lord
Free app available for iOS and Android