What was the Rationale for Jesus Opponents?

In this blog post I would like to discuss the rationale for Jesus opponents. In order to understand their rationale, we need to ask and understand, who were the opponents? The main text for this post will be John 11:47-53.
“Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, "What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs.” (John 11:47) The chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council. The Sanhedrin (council) was the supreme Jewish religious, political and legal court in Jerusalem in New Testament times.1 According to three Greek sources; the New Testament, Apocrypha and the Jewish historian Josephus there was a single body in Jerusalem.2 The Sanhedrin consisted of lay aristocracy and priest who were sympathetic to Sadducean theology; it also consisted of Pharisaic scribes. According to both the New Testament and Jewish historian Josephus, during the first century the chief priest were the leading figures in the Sanhedrin and the high priest was its president.3
Therefore, since the chief priest (one of the opponents of Jesus in John 11:47-53) were likely Sadducean sympathetic, we need to answer the question, who were the Sadducees? According to the Jewish historian Josephus they were one of three Jewish philosophies in the first century A. D., along with the Pharisees and the Essenes.4 The Essenes are not mentioned in the New Testament, however as a side note, I think that there is the possibility of Essene influence in John the Baptist.
Sadducees were popular among the wealthy, something to keep in mind when thinking about a rationale. They had significant power among the priest and within the Sanhedrin, again something to keep in mind. They were in competition for power with the Pharisees who were more popular with the general public. The Sadducees wanted to keep things as they were, and therefore pro-Roman.5 “The Sadducees believed in free will and denied the resurrection and the final judgment.”6 
The Pharisees were the other group mentioned in John 11:47-53, who like the Sadducees were members in the Sanhedrin council. The Pharisees were involved with local and national politics to preserve the highest goals of purity surrounding food, Sabbath and tithing.7 The Jewish historian Josephus says that the Pharisees had the ear of the people.8 This is something to keep in mind when thinking about a rationale. Also, Josephus said that the Pharisees believed in both providence and free will.9 In opposition to the views of the Sadducees, the Pharisees believed in the resurrection and final judgment. They were not satisfied with the status quo, and with their beliefs regarding providence and free will wrangled with how much they should work for political change, and how much they should wait for God to bring about change.10
I have established the opponents of Jesus to be members of the Sanhedrin council in Jerusalem, both Sadducees and Pharisees; two opposing Jewish philosophies who agreed and planned together to kill Jesus. (cf. John 11:53) So, what was their rationale for opposing and wanting to kill Jesus?
“If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:48) There are three lusts that motivate men; fame, fortune and power. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16) The Pharisees were dependent on having the ear of the people. If all the people began listening to Jesus rather than them, then they would have no fame, no fortune and no power. They were members of the Sanhedrin, because they had the ear of the people. The Sadducees feared the Romans would come and take away their place of authority. When that happened, and it did in A.D. 70, the Sadducees were no more. Therefore, the rational for Jesus opponents, planning together to kill him was fear of losing fame, fortune and power. The fear that all men will believe in him (fame), and the Romans would come and take away their place (power) and nation (fortune).
  





1 G. H. Twelftree, “Sanhedrin” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, eds. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown and Nicholas Perrin (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013), 836.
2 G. H. Twelftree, “Sanhedrin” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, eds. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown and Nicholas Perrin (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013), 837.
3 G. H. Twelftree, “Sanhedrin” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, eds. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown and Nicholas Perrin (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013), 838.
4 M. L. Strauss, “Sadducees” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, eds. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown and Nicholas Perrin (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013), 824.
5 M. L. Strauss, “Sadducees” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, eds. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown and Nicholas Perrin (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013), 824-825.
6 M. L. Strauss, “Sadducees” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, eds. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown and Nicholas Perrin (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013), 825.
7 L. Cohick, “Pharisees” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, eds. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown and Nicholas Perrin (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013), 678-679.
8 L. Cohick, “Pharisees” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, eds. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown and Nicholas Perrin (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013), 676.
9 L. Cohick, “Pharisees” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, eds. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown and Nicholas Perrin (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013), 677.
10 Ibid.


Bibliography

Green, Joel B., Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2013.

The Lockman Foundation. The Holy Bible, Updated New American Standard Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995.

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