a) The Growing Opposition to Jesus the Messiah
In previous chapters we have noted examples of Jesus’ wonderful works of healing. In the last chapter we mentioned how He even raised the dead to life. Perhaps you will recall many other works of Jesus that showed how He was in control of all nature.
You would think that everyone would be delighted to be associated with Jesus and to witness His works. How could the people fail to welcome Him, this simple carpenter, one of their own, who freely mingled with them, understood them and cared for their needs! And He had such power and eloquence!
Sadly, however, there were those who did not welcome Jesus, who were indifferent to Him or even bitterly opposed Him. Even members of His family had wondered about Him and His activities (Mark 3:20-34). On one occasion, after Jesus exorcised a demon from a man, the people of the area became frightened and pleaded with Jesus to leave (Mark 5:1-20). On another occasion, after He had told a large crowd whom He miraculously fed that they needed Him, the Bread of Life, for their hearts more than bread for their stomachs, the interest of many waned. They wanted a messiah, a king, a son of the sword, who would simply conquer all their enemies, provide for all their needs and make life easy for them.
The Jewish leaders, too, while recognizing that Jesus did great works, questioned His qualifications to be the Messiah, the king of the Children of Israel. They accused Him of breaking God’s holy law for Israel. As we have seen, they charged Him with breaking the Sabbath Day, the day of rest, even when He healed people on that day. Some even said He cast out devils from people with the Devil’s help. They criticized Him for associating with sinners, people of bad reputation. They accused Him of blasphemy when He forgave sins. His claims about His unique relation with God angered them. In fact, they resented His popularity with the ordinary people, considering Him a threat to their leadership and power, someone better dead than alive. No, Jesus could not be their Messiah! He was a false alarm, and a dangerous one also.
Amazingly, according to the Holy Scriptures, it was after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead that the Jewish leaders made arrangements for the death of Jesus.
“Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. ‘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.’ ... So from that day on they plotted to take his life.” (John 11:47,48,53)
Only a short time later, when large crowds welcomed Jesus as He entered into Jerusalem, the leaders intensified their resolve to act against Jesus. Jesus Himself had clearly understood their intention and spoke these amazing words to two Gentile visitors who had come to meet Him:
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” (John 12:23-27)
“The hour has come …” The hour! What hour? Jesus’ hour, the Heavenly Father’s hour: that brief time segment in history when God demonstrated most vividly – and strangely – His remedy for all the diseases of this world.