32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him.
This order to arrest Jesus follows John recounting the divided opinion the crowds had of Jesus. Some believed he was truly the Christ will others believed he was a deceiver or just a good man. So, why did the Pharisees feel the need to oppose Jesus so vigorously, and ultimately work towards his death?
Jesus is a Threat
One of the reasons the Pharisees opposed Jesus is that He was a threat. Not only was Jesus a threat to their general authority in Judaea, but also He was a threat to their entire worldview. The Pharisees had tied salvation to performance of the law, and Jesus had tied salvation to faith in Him. To the Pharisees, this was a bold and outrageous claim.
There are at least two specific ways Jesus threatened the Pharisees, in John 7 alone.
- Jesus cannot be controlled. In (John 7:34), Jesus told the people that they would seek Him, but be unable to find Him. While this caused a great deal of confusion (John 7:35-36), at a basic level Jesus was informing them that He was above their authority and control. Christ was unwilling to bow the knee to the prevailing understanding of the necessity of the Law for salvation, and this infuriated the Pharisees.
- Only Jesus can satisfy. In (John 7:38-39), Jesus explains that only He can satisfy through the giving of the Holy Spirit to those who believe in Him. This focuses on what Christ alone can offer, but in reverse, it shows the incredible deficiency of the world. Jesus is telling us that if you were to bring the best the world has to offer, it wouldn’t even come close to Him. This includes the best the Pharisees had to offer through their strict adherence to the law.
Ultimately, this infuriated opposition would kill Jesus on a cross. But the very thing the Jewish leaders tried to do to contain Jesus, was the very victory He had come to provide. For more on the threat Jesus posed to the world, listen to this past week’s sermon here.