Jesus looked upon the Pharisees with anger, being upset with them because they were hard hearted. Then, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” The man stretched it out. His hand was healed. The Pharisees left and immediately took counsel with the Herodians. The Pharisees and Herodians then discussed how they might destroy Jesus.
The Pharisees are apparently so enraged that they conspire with the Herodians to seek Jesus’ death. Two questions are important here: First, why would the Pharisees want to kill Jesus? Second, who were the Herodians?
As to the first question, and most important one, this is something that has always puzzled me. The storyline is that the Pharisees had it in for Jesus. But why? Both Jesus and the Pharisees shared the same theology. They believed in performing deeds of loving kindness and mercy. They subscribed to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and an afterlife. They accepted the Divine origin of the written Torah and the oral Torah (that is, what would come to be known as the Mishnah, which provides clarification to the written Torah). They anticipated a final judgment and a general resurrection of the dead. Most importantly, they looked forward to the coming of the Messiah to usher in a golden age for Israel and all humankind. Yes, there were some minor differences. The Pharisees, for example, would not eat with sinners; Jesus would. See 9 Jewish Encyclopedia 661, 665 (Pharisees). See also post of May 14, 2010. That is not a significant difference, however, and certainly not enough to warrant his death.
Indeed, the synoptic Gospels do not even mention the Pharisees in the arrest and trial of Jesus. They are simply nowhere to be found. Moreover, they actually warn him to stay out of Jerusalem: “The same day, some Pharisees came to him and said, ‘Get out and leave, for Herod will try to kill you.’ ” Luke 13:31. You do not try to save someone you want to kill.
Furthermore, and almost inexplicably, Jesus taught that the Pharisees were the rightful successors to Judaism’s greatest teacher, Moses: "Then Jesus spoke to the crowd, and to his disciples. He said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore, do everything they tell you to do. . . .’ ” Matthew 22:2-3. See also post of September 3, 2010.
Yes, the Pharisees and Jesus spared with each other. Nonetheless, to Jews, that is no big deal. In fact, it is an integral part of Judaism: to question, debate, and argue. This heritage goes back to when Abraham “argued” with God to save Sodom and Gomorrah See Genesis 18:17-33 and post of December 14, 2010. If Abraham can argue with God, the Pharisees and Jesus can argue with each other.
As for the “Herodians,” they were a priestly party who, along with the Sadducees, opposed the Pharisees. See 6 Jewish Encyclopedia 360 (Herodians). So why would the Herodians, the enemies of the Pharisees, conspire with the Pharisees to kill Jesus when Jesus was himself a Pharisee?
The plot, as they say, thickens.
I welcome your comments.
Copyright 2011 by Ira L. Shafiroff. All rights reserved.