The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
OCTAVIUS WINSLOW (1808-1878): Jesus was the object of popular hate because of the divinity of His Person…[and] despised because of the unworldliness of His life. “The world hates me because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil,” John 7:7. His whole life was one ceaseless testimony against the ungodliness of this ungodly world. It rejected Him because He was holy…Jesus was equally the object of offence to the world because of His testimony to the truth.
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): But it may be proper, in the first place, briefly to delineate the characters of the sects or parties mentioned by the evangelists, whose leaders opposed our Saviour’s ministry, and caviled at his doctrine. These were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians.
The Pharisees, including the Scribes, were professedly the guardians of the law, and public teachers of the people. They were held in high veneration, by the common people, for the austerity of their deportment, the frequency of their devotions, and their exactness in the less essential parts of the law. They observed the traditions of the elders, were still adding to them; and the consequence was (as it will always be in such a case), that they were so pleased with their own inventions, as to prefer them to the positive commands of God…They expected reverence and homage from all, and challenged the highest titles of respect, to be saluted as doctors and masters, and to be honoured with the principal seats in all assemblies…
The Sadducees, their antagonists and rivals, were equally, though differently, remote from the true knowledge and worship of God. They not only rejected the tradition of the elders, but a great part of the Scriptures likewise, and admitted only the five books of Moses as of divine authority….It appears that they were persons who, professing in general terms to acknowledge a revelation from God, yet made their own prejudices and mistakes, under the dignified name of reason, the standard to determine what sense they should be understood. The doctrine of a resurrection did not accord with their notions; therefore they rejected it, together with those parts of Scripture which asserted it most expressly…
The Herodians were those who endeavoured to ingratiate themselves with Herod. It is most probable that they received their name and distinction, not so much from any peculiar sentiments, as from attempting to accommodate their religion to the circumstances of the times…
We now proceed. The first great cause why Jesus was rejected by those to whom he appealed, may be deduced from the tenor of His doctrine―It offended the pride of the Pharisees, was repugnant to the wise infidelity of the Sadducees, and condemned the pliant temper of the Herodians.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): He was undoubtedly a great problem to His contemporaries. There were so many unusual things about Him. He was not a Pharisee and He had not been trained as a Pharisee. He had not been to the customary schools, so they looked at Him and said, “Who is this fellow, this man who teaches and makes these dogmatic statements? What is this?” He did not come into His position as a teacher along the usual lines or through the customary channels, and that at once created a problem. The leaders and the people were rather perplexed about it. But not only that. As I have been reminding you, He deliberately criticized the Pharisees and the scribes, and their teaching. Now they were the acknowledged leaders and religious teachers, and everyone was prepared to do what they said…But, suddenly, here was a Man who did not belong to their schools, who not only taught, but also denounced their authoritative teaching!
JOHN NEWTON: Their dislike to His doctrine was increased by His manner of enforcing it. He spoke with authority, and sharply rebuked the hypocrisy, ignorance, ambition, and avarice of those persons who were accounted the wise and good, who sat in Moses chair, and had hitherto been heard and obeyed with reverence. But Jesus exposed their true characters; He spoke of them as “blind guides;” He compared them to “painted sepulchres,” and cautioned the people against them as dangerous deceivers. It is no wonder, therefore, that on this account they hated him with a perfect hatred.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Proud men scorn to be taught.
JOHN NEWTON: From what has been said, it is evident the leading principles of these [three] sects were not peculiar to themselves. They may rather be considered universally, as specimens of the different appearances a religious profession assumes, where the heart is not divinely enlightened and converted to the love of the truth―These dispositions have appeared in every age and form of the Christian church, and are always active to oppose the self-denying doctrines of the Gospel…
The man who, fond of his fancied attainments and scrupulous exactness in externals, despises all who will not conform to his rules, and challenges peculiar respect on account of his superior goodness, is a proud Pharisee. His zeal is dark, envious, and bitter; his obedience partial and self-willed; and, while he boasts of the knowledge of God, his heart rises with enmity at the grace of the Gospel, which he boldly charges with opening a door to licentiousness.
The modern Sadducee (like those of old) admits of a revelation, but then, full of his own wisdom and importance, he arraigns even the revelation he seems to allow at the bar of his narrow judgment; and as the sublime doctrines of truth pass under his review, he affixes, without hesitation, the epithets of absurd, inconsistent, and blasphemous, to whatever thwarts his pride, prejudice, and ignorance. And those parts of Scripture which cannot be warped to speak his sense, he discards from his canon as interpolated and supposititious.
The Herodian is the man, however denominated or dignified, who is governed by interest, as the others by pride, and vainly endeavours to reconcile the incompatible services of God and the world, Christ and Belial. He avoids the excesses of religious parties, speaks in terms of moderation, and is not unwilling to be accounted the patron and friend of sobriety and religion. He stands fair with all who would be religious upon cheap terms, and fair in his own esteem, having numbers and authority on his side. Thus he almost persuades himself he has carried his point, and that it is not so impossible to serve two masters…But the preaching of the pure Gospel, which enforces the one thing needful, and will admit of no compliances with worldly interests, interferes with his plans, and incurs his resentment likewise; though, perhaps, he will shew his displeasure, by more refined and specious methods than the clamorous rage of hot bigotry.
WILLIAM TIPTAFT (1803-1864): Nature is not changed, the gospel is not changed, and Christ is not changed. What reason is there why they should not hate the truth now?
OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: The world despises the image of Christ. If it hated the fair and perfect Original, it will also hate the copy, however dim and imperfect it may be…The more spiritual and unadulterated, the more scriptural and unworldly your views of the gospel―its doctrines, its precepts, and its institutions―the more the world, even much of the so-called religious world, will separate from your company, hate, and despise you.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Human nature has not changed; Satan has not changed; the world has not changed; and the more Christ-like is our life the more we shall drink—in our measure—of the cup He drank from.