How do the teachers of the law and the Pharisees view Jesus?
They view him as a threat. He threatens their entire religious system. He threatens what they had worked so hard to attain. The social standing. The financial security. They must have thought, I will distinguish myself from the other Pharisees, I will out-compete them and I will ascend to becoming a teacher of the law someday. I will open my own school, I will write theology books, I will go on tour and give guest lectures in Jerusalem and Ephesus. And no one is going to stop them.
Certainly, not Jesus. Jesus was a threat as soon as he burst onto the scene. I bet some of the Pharisees were on the fence about Jesus. Perhaps some of them were even thinking of joining Jesus’ team. Because he taught with authority. He healed the sick. He performed miracles. He was a rising star among all the teachers. He was only 33 years old, a bit young. But 7 years later, he would be eligible to open his own school. Jesus could have been very wealthy, very comfortable. But he came to demolish this corrupt religious system of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees.
And because Jesus did not endorse their religious system, he was a threat.
President Obama announced recently a new goal that he wants for NASA. By 2025, he wants NASA to be able to send a space shuttle to a large asteroid to divert its trajectory so that we can be prepared in the event that we discover a potentially Earth-ending asteroid heading toward us. A large asteroid is a threat to human existence so it makes sense to take proactive steps.
And it got me thinking, Jesus comes at us like an asteroid. He comes at us and he is a threat to our lives. Before you met Christ, you had your own goals and dreams. Then you met Christ and his claim on your life hit you like an asteroid. It certainly did for me. I just wanted to have fun in college and experience all I could, but Jesus came to me and he stopped me dead in my tracks. And as a sophomore, I gave my life to Jesus and my life took a totally different trajectory. He destroyed my old life and gave me a new one.
And if Jesus is this kind of threat, we have 3 potential responses. One, we could deny Jesus like many people do. Jesus comes at them, but they turn the other way. They distract themselves; they are too busy to think about life. And they reason, I am young, why should I think about important matters of life now? He is a threat, but I can postpone worrying about it.
Second, you could destroy Jesus. This is the path the teachers of the law and the Pharisees took. They took proactive steps to contain the threat and eventually when Jesus was getting too popular and they could not ignore him any longer, they got rid of him. They dealt with the threat by removing the threat. Hypothetically, if Jesus appeared today, I am fairly certain that very religious-minded, conservative “Christians” would be leading the charge to have him crucified all over again.
Third, you could allow yourself to be destroyed by Jesus. There is no guarantee that an asteroid will ever hit Earth. But with Jesus, if we allow him, it is guaranteed that he will destroy our old lives. He seeks to destroy our religion. But destruction is not Jesus’ final intention. He points out our sin and to throw everything away in surrender SO THAT he can forgive us and give us a new life. A better life.