The Worldview of Jesus’ Enemies

04 Mar

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Many Jews during the first century AD and many Biblical scholars, today, would understand Jesus’ words in Luke 19:13 to point to Archelaus who had gone to Rome to officially receive for himself the kingdom he had inherited from his father, Herod the Great. The Jews really did send representatives to Caesar, asking that he decide against Archelaus obtaining Herod’s kingdom (Luke 19:14).[1] Indeed, Archelaus came away from Rome not as king, but with the title of ethnarch and only a promise of becoming king, if he proved to rule prudently.[2] So, the Jewish ambassadors were at least partially successful in their mission to keep Archelaus from gaining authority over them. Although he was given authority, he was not given as much as he had hoped.

In Jesus’ parable the nobleman’s citizens hated him and didn’t want to live under his authority (Luke19:14; cf. Revelation 11:15, 18). The problem seems to be that the citizens already had a worldview of matters pertaining to their religion, and the nobleman’s ways didn’t fit into their truth. Jesus often challenged the customs of the rabbis and the Pharisees, saying their additions to the Law made the word of God of no effect (Matthew 15:6; Mark 7:13). Jesus’ point was that scripture was unable to produce good fruit to God in the lives of his people, when the customs of men were enforced. This was true, because the Jewish authorities intimidated the people into obeying the traditions of men more than and often in place of obeying the commandments of God.

The authorities bound heavy burdens upon the people (Matthew 23:4), but like lawyers of every age, they found loop holes for themselves (Luke 11:46) and clients who paid for their services. Jesus called them hypocrites who taught the people one thing, but they, themselves, didn’t behave according to their own teaching (Matthew 23:3). These same authorities marveled when Jesus was not intimidated by their authority and didn’t behave according to their traditions (Matthew 15:2; cf. Luke 5:30; 15:1-2). Subsequently, they often plotted against him, hoping to kill him for transgressing their worldview (cf. Luke 6:7, 11; 20:20-22).

If the Pharisees or other religious leaders actually wanted to submit to Jesus as their Messiah, they would have had to admit that they were leading the nation astray. However, this was something they had no intention of doing. The fact is, many of them looked for a warlike messiah, who would come and save them from the Roman oppressor. Therefore, Jesus’ idea of an inner Kingdom of God, whereby God is enthroned in the believer’s heart, simply had no place in the Jewish authorities’ worldview. They rejected Jesus, crucifying him and saying they would not have him rule over them (cf. Luke 19:14).

In crucifying Jesus, the citizens sent a message that they had no desire to live under his rule (Luke 19:14; cf. John 19:15). Indeed, by killing Jesus, the Jewish authorities declared war upon God (cf. Luke 20:9-16). In Luke 14:31 Jesus pointed to a king who made war with another king. If the first king repented (desired peace), he sent an envoy, seeking terms of peace. Simply put, the only recourse the Jewish authorities had, after crucifying Jesus, was to repent and believe the Gospel, which was later preached by Jesus’ disciples (the nobleman’s servants in the parable). Nevertheless, the Jewish authorities never repented and even sought to destroy Jesus’ disciples and silence the Gospel message (cf. Matthew 23:34).


[1] See: Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 17.9.3-5 and 17.11.1-4; Wars of the Jews 2.2.1-5 and 2.4.1-2

[2] See Josephus, Antiquities 17.11.4 and Wars 2.4.3

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Posted by on March 4, 2018 in Gospel of Luke


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