However, some of the Pharisees did not believe. Further, the sign inflamed their darkened and evil hearts, and they plotted to kill Jesus from that day.
First, note the two different reactions. These are the only two reactions to Jesus, ever. Ultimately there’s belief or hardening. Next, we read,
So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:47-48).
Now, maybe it’s because I’m teaching the reading skill ’cause and effect’ with my second grade reading group. Or maybe I’m just not interpreting this correctly at all. I looked at commentaries and parallel verses and they all seem to focus on the Roman part, and not the belief part. But I noticed a definite cause-and-effect relationship.
The Pharisees as a group largely were non-believers. They were actually false teachers. They were given the task of shepherding Israel and they utterly failed in many ways. When told to repent by the Author of the faith, they refused.
The Pharisees (Sadducees and scribes) wanted to protect their power base and their national identity in the face of occupation from Rome. But that was the effect of their stance in refusing to believe. What caused the Pharisees to so fiercely protect their power base was that people believed in Jesus.
They wanted to stop that.
Let that sink in for a minute. The Pharisees were so consumed with themselves that they wanted to STOP people from believing in Jesus. That’s what they were worried about. The effect of widespread belief in Jesus would be a diminishing of their own power, but the cause would be belief in Christ. Their wholesale consuming thought was to prevent people’s souls from attaining peace in their Messiah and forgiveness of sins and thus reconciliation with God.
Imagine, the false teachers of Israel wanting to stop people from believing in their own Messiah.
If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, …
But false teachers of that day to this, are consumed with self. They are not consumed with Jesus. They want to protect their turf, whether it’s being known or false charismatic signs, or rich royalties from many false books, or wielding power and influence and fame. They want to STOP people from believing in this same Jesus as scripture presents.
Yes, we know the Pharisees wanted their power. Yes we know that they didn’t believe in Jesus. But they actively wanted people to NOT believe in Jesus. It’s the same with false teachers today. Many, many people email me or comment that I’m not empathetic with false teachers. I need to give them a chance, I need to love them more. I need to leave them alone because it’s not my place to judge.
Yet, they aren’t shy about not leaving me alone. They are actively out to stop me and other women from believing in Jesus. They do everything they can to protect their power base, and to destroy, lie and steal joy and truth from anyone they can. The false teachers have the same motivations as the Pharisees did, and thus they have the same issue with Jesus: they do not believe and they want to stop people from believing. You fill in the blank-
Cause: Power (John 11:48) Effect: non-belief. (1 Timothy 6:20-21).
Cause: Greed (2 Peter 2:3). Effect: non-belief. (2 Peter 2:2).
Cause: Lusts (Jude 1:16). Effect: non-belief (2 Peter 2:18).
Cause: Fame (Luke 6:26) Effect: non-belief. (Luke 18:14)
If you think of it that way, then it’s easier to keep our eyes on Jesus and not confuse external feelings about the false teachers with doctrinal truth. Do not swerve.
O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you. (1 Timothy 6:20-21).