John the Baptist came preaching about a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and he did not win many friends among the Pharisees (Mark 1:4, 5, Luke 3:7-8). Luke 7:30 tells us that the Pharisees rejected God’s purpose for themselves; now that’s taking your destiny into your own hands. They were hard-hearted and Jesus still loved them. But people who hide behind masks don’t like to be around those who peel them off, Jesus could see right through the Pharisees phony spirituality.
There was one guy named Nicodemus that needed to know more, and came to Jesus with some questions (John 3:1-2). He was not alone (John 12:42) but they were sort of behind the scenes followers who wanted to keep it quiet for fear of being fired. They loved the praise of men more than praise from God (John 12:43). We should not be too quick to condemn them since all of us at one time or another had remained silent seeking the approval of others.
By the time we get to John 11, we see evil making plans to get rid of the problem preacher since many people were coming to faith in Jesus (John 11:45, 48, 53). Did they fear the loss of the nation or really the loss of their “place” in the temple (John 11:48)? What a prophetic word, that it is better for one man to die for the people than that the whole nation perish (John 11:50).
These were the teachers and classmates of Paul; a glimpse of religion gone wild. Do not underestimate the evil that is deep within our hearts. One prominent tool the enemy uses is self-interest that leads to manipulation of others.
For a time, the Pharisees believed they had won; Jesus was dead, He even declared “it is finished” (John 19:30). They did all they could to make sure it stayed finished, but the resurrection still happened. In our lives, think about what is really finished and what is not. Our salvation is finished, Jesus paid it all, but our sanctification is not finished. We will spend the rest of our lives growing in godliness and into the image of Christ himself (Romans 8:29).
Jesus does not save us to let us live the rest of our lives without him. He wants to be involved in your marriage, your family, your work place, your school. With God’s power we can change into the kind of men that God desires for us to become. He changes us from the inside out. We are to be crucified with Christ and allow Jesus to live through us (Galatians 2:20). We are bought with a price and we are no longer to live without God (1 Corinthians 6:20).