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In my sermon today, I made a comment about Jesus eating at a Pharisee's house in Luke 14:1, and the way the text is presented, it looks like this was something that happened on a regular basis. This shows me that Jesus did not view all Pharisees as an enemy and He did have a good relationship with many of them. One of my classes in college helped me come to this conclusion as I looked deeper in Matthew to see the progression of the tension. Here is a paper I wrote to explain what I found:
Jesus and the Leaders of the Jews
The Gospel of Matthew has recorded many interactions between Jesus and the leaders of the Jewish nation. This paper will highlight the appearances of these interactions using the New International Version of the Bible.
The presence of the Jewish leaders began in chapter 3, with the Baptism of Jesus. In verse 7, the Pharisees and Sadducees came to the place where John was baptizing believers in order to investigate what was happening. A few verses later, Jesus showed up to be baptized. This passage of scripture does not indicate that the leaders left so there could be an assumption made that they witnessed the baptism of Jesus. If this is the case, the voice from heaven could have been present for the Pharisees and Sadducees to hear the confirmation that Jesus is the Son of God. This would obviously cause much need to further investigate the ministry of Jesus as it grew.
In Matthew 4:23, there is a note about Jesus going to the Synagogues to preach, and word about His ministry spread throughout Syria. The large crowd that came as a result prompted the "sermon" that He preached on the mountainside. When Jesus finished the "sermon," Matthew mentions in 7:29 that He taught as one with authority instead of being like their teachers of the law. This new style of teaching may not have sat well with the leaders of the Jews.
The growing popularity along with the new style of teaching has become the basis for the investigation to see what Jesus was doing. In 8:4, Jesus apparently was not ashamed of what He was doing because he sent the man who was healed from leprosy to the priest so he could be brought back in to his community. His ministry was so effective that even a teacher of the law wanted to follow Jesus as is recorded in 8:19.
As Jesus' ministry continues, the investigation began to strengthen as in 9:3, Jesus is being accused of blasphemy as a result of His statement that the paralytic'sÂÂ sins are being forgiven. Unfortunately, these teachers of the law have been viewed as the enemy when at this point, all they were doing was upholding the Mosaic law. Of course, later on there is evidence that show the evil side of the leaders of the Jewish nation, but were there some leaders who actually wanted to defend the law because they took their job seriously? This passage can be viewed as a reaction to Jesus contradicting the sacrificial system of the forgiveness of sins instead of enemies fighting over whose theology is best.
The Pharisees were really getting suspicious because of the people Jesus reached as is found in 9:11. Further rebellion is present in 9:14 when Jesus is questioned about fasting. Once He explained the true understanding of fasting, and the fact that there was no reason to fast while He was on earth, this wasn'tÂÂ a true case of rebellion as much as it is a clarification of the law. In 9:34, the Pharisees are starting to show their true colors because of the jealousy that is rising. The only way Jesus could be driving out demons is because He is a demon. This is the only argument the Pharisees could come up with because they did not have the ability to drive out demons.
In 12:2, 9, 10, and 14, Jesus is being confronted because of His disobedience to the laws of the Sabbath that has been created by the Pharisees. After the confrontation, it was evident that Jesus had no intention of following the law as was created by the Pharisees, but instead, He was following the law as it was originally meant. This embarrassed the Pharisees, and they now began to search for a reason to silence Jesus before He destroys everything they have worked so hard to create. Even though the tension was starting to rise, Jesus still taught in the synagogues every time He got the chance as is found in 13:54.
From this point on, the tension had mounted to the point where the Pharisees were working at every moment to catch Jesus in an act that would discredit His ministry as recorded in 15:1, 12; 16:1, 12; 19:3, 7; 21:12, 15; 21:23, 45-46; and 22:15, 23, 34. Jesus' woes to the Pharisees, 23:1, was the final blow that caused the leaders of the Jewish nation to plot against Him, 26:1, and have Him arrested, 26:14; 26:47, brought to a trial, 26:57; 27:12, and eventually crucified.
One last shot at Jesus was the task of placing a Roman guard at the tomb, 27:62, in order to give the appearance of Jesus being placed in a prison and to keep the Disciples from stealing His body to make it look like He rose from the grave. This fear showed that the Pharisees knew what Jesus was teaching, but they did not believe it would actually happen.
Of course, Jesus still went through with the plan of being resurrected from the dead even with the precautions taken by the Pharisees. 28:11 shows the report of the guard and the fact that the Pharisees tried to fix this with a lie to silence the Disciples. Obviously this did not work because Jesus appeared many times after His death in order to show proof of His resurrection.