Summary: A sermon on the envy of the religious leaders of Jesus' day (Material adapted from Bob Russell at: http://bobrussellsermons.org/religious-leaders-who-envied-him?filter_name=Religious%20Leaders)
A wise man said: Nothing arouses ambition so much in the heart as the trumpet-clang of another’s fame.
A. Why would anyone want to kill Jesus of Nazareth?
1. Great teacher- “The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?”” John 7:15, NIV.
2. He was above reproach in his morals. “Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”” Luke 23:4, NIV.
3. He was always helping the less fortunate. “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” Matthew 11:5, NIV.
4. Jesus was a great proponent for non violence. “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:39, 44, NIV.
B. But Jesus of Nazareth had such strong opposition that he was crucified on a cross. Why and how did that happen? Why such strong and violent opposition?
C. Jesus Christ was not murdered by ruthless barbarians, he was put to death by people much like us. Our sin nailed him there. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities” Isaiah 53:5, NIV.
D. One of the main players in the Passover Plan involved the religious leaders. They are the ones who conspired to have Jesus eliminated. Why? “For he (Pilate) knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.” Matthew 27:18, NIV.
E. The leaders were consumed with envy. That envy twisted their thinking, seared their consciences, and killed Christ. Not just them but the envy in every person did this.
Thesis: Let’s talk about envy and the Passover Plan concerning the religious leaders
I. Let’s take a look at the men who were Jesus’ primary enemies. John 11
1. There were the Pharisees. This was the ultra conservative party of that day. Not just follow the Bible but also the tradition and customs that came down over the years. The Pharisees did not like Jesus because they thought he was too liberal. Jesus did not follow their traditions.
“So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?”” Mark 7:5, NIV. “And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” “You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”” Mark 7:9, 13
2. Chief priests were opposed to Jesus. They felt like Jesus was disrespectful of their position and authority since they were over the temple. Jesus went into the temple and drove out the money changers and those selling animals. “Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”” Matthew 21:23
3. The Sadducees were opposed to Jesus. “Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. John 11:47, NIV. The Sanhedrin was made up of some Pharisees and many Sadducees. The Sadducees were the ultra liberal party. This group had sold out to the Romans. They only held to the first 5 books of the OT. “(The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)” Acts 23:8, NIV. The Sadducees considered Jesus too conservative. One time the Sadducees came to Jesus with a question and Jesus rebuked them with this. “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” Matthew 22:29, NIV.
When Jesus became very popular among the people, they called this meeting together in John 11 to see what they could do to stop him. A group that would not come together in many things, now comes together to get rid of Jesus. Why? Envy. Jesus had just performed his most spectacular miracle, raising Lazarus 4 days after his death. “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.” John 11:45, NIV.
Notice their main concern: ““What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”” John 11:47, 48