Jesus’ ministry was framed around his association with two critical groups of people: sinners and self-righteous. To understand these complex dynamics reveals the nature of Jesus’ approach.
Download Handout – 10 – Associations
- Jesus was the easiest on the sinners and the toughest on the self-righteous.
- Jesus was often criticized for his association with sinners.
- While he was gracious and polite towards sinners, he also called for repentance. He was gracious but not soft (John 8:2-11).
- One of the biggest misrepresentations of Jesus was that he taught not to judge others. That is simply untrue (Matt. 7:1-5; cf. 1 Corinthians 5).
The Identity of the Pharisees
- The Pharisees were a fellowship of serious-minded Jewish men that were committed to the Old Testament Law.
- Unfortunately, they began holding to extensive extra-biblical traditions and would oftentimes let their traditions stand in the way of obeying the truth (Matthew 23).
- The Sadducees were wealthy priests who were unfriendly and unpopular among the masses.
- They rejected the extra-biblical traditions of the Pharisees and did not believe in the resurrection from the dead (Mark 12:18; Acts 4:1-2; 23:6-8).
- The Essenes were another community that lived communally and emphasized a strict level of purity.
- These groups had a common enemy: Jesus. They would work together and with Rome to try and trick Jesus (Matt. 22:15-46).
The Respect They Had for Jesus
- Many of the Pharisees would appear to respect Jesus, but they would use a compliment in an attempt to soften him before trying to catch him in his words.
- Some Pharisees, like Nicodemus (John 3), realized something was different about him.
The Reason They Wanted to Kill Jesus
- They were following a biblical command (Deut. 13:6-10; 17:3-5).
- They thought Jesus was blaspheming (Mark 2:5-7; John 8:56-59; 10:28-31).
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.