The Word of the Cross to Hindus|
Part 1, Chapter 2: The Chief Opponents
1. From the records we now come to Yah'shua Himself. They were intended to bring us to Him. The Gospels are they which particularly testify of Him. What is the figure which they portray before our eyes and the personality they impress upon our understanding? We know that these little books were written to furnish the materials for our judgment of Yah'shua and to fill in and shape our beliefs about Him. What, then, do we think of Yah'shua? Who do we say that He is?
"From that time Yah'shua (Jesus) began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed" (Matthew 16:21).
2. Many among us have wished at one time or another that we might come to the Gospels without having heard of them previously or being familiar with their contents through much telling and reading. We should like to enter upon this study as into an unknown and undiscovered country. This has been the way in which some great Hindu converts took up these memoirs of Yah'shua and began their reading of them. They read on with growing attachment and delight till faith was fully formed in them. We ourselves cannot approach the books in this fashion. We cannot capture today the surprise and emotion of a first impression. On the other hand, we enjoy other great advantages and have no just cause to complain. If we have been brought up as Christians or in a Christian environment, we should have a mind prepared in some measure to estimate rightly spiritual values. And, thanks to the pains of Christian scholarship, we can follow in the footsteps of the Yah'shua of History: we can observe and hear more of Him even than most of the first disciples. We have been enabled to see the life of Yah'shua and to see it whole. When we have shut these eyes of the body, and have retired - as it were - into our interior self and can review all that we have learned about Yah'shua, what is the figure which rises up before our mind?
3. Speaking for myself - if I may say it without irreverence and without being misunderstood - I would say that Yah'shua appears to me, in the first instance and preeminently, as a man of God. Some have called Him the religious genius, meaning that he had a unique capacity for devotion to the unseen God, Yahweh. Beyond all possibility of questioning or denial, Yah'shua was was one who believed that he had sould-commerce with God, and had something of infinite value to communicate to men concerning God. The many and long years of His obscurity, we may conclude with certainty, were a period during which Yah'shua was communing with Yahweh. His knowledge of Yahweh and Himself was being developed, and he was being prepared for His message to men about God. His supreme desire, His ruling passion was to change men's attitude towards Yahweh and to bring them into a new relationship with Him. Yah'shua was conscious within Himself of peace and joy, certitude and strength which sprang from His knowing and loving Yahweh. His thought and will were in complete union with Yahweh. All the powers of His nature were directed to bringing men into that same experience. This was His constant effort: it has been His sole achievement in the history of mankind.
4. Of course, we may deny any reality to this religious experience of Yah'shua. We may assert that there was and is no such God as He conceived. The God of Yah'shua, we may allege, was the mere fiction of an intense religious imagination - a projection of His consciousness. But if we say this, then we have put upon a foundation of falsehood the personal influence which has been exerted most widely and deeply on the human race. We are reducing to an illusion or an hallucination the experience of one who - by general consent - was among the greatest and best of men, if He be not the greatest and best. I cannot argue the point here. I am concerned only to point out that if the Father and God of Our Lord Yah'shua the Messiah does not exist, the contribution of Yah'shua to our life and world is gone. He gave this and nothing more: but nothing less.
5. The intimacy of Yah'shua with God cannot have begun with His public career. It was the fruit of a life of careful tending and wholesome growth, of self-discipline and earnest thought, or prayer and obedience to known duty. We have only one glimpse of His childhood; but it is significant of its beauty and its natural bent towards Yahweh. It shows a boy with an extraordinary pre-occuption with God - intense but not priggish. At twelve years of age He felt that He had to be 'in the things of His Father'. We cannot make away with the baptism by John as an unhistorical incident. The story is not one which the disciples were likely to invent: it raised difficulties for their developed faith, as it has done in all generations of Christians ever since. The baptism of John was meant to be an acknowledement of wrong-doing, and it gave an assurance to the penitent of the forgiveness of Yahweh. It was astonishing, then, that Yah'shua should join Himself to this company of confessing sinners and submit to a rite which was "for the remission of sins". Must we not believe that he went in the humility and naturalness of His real manhood? Though unaware of wrongdoing within Himself, did He not recognise that the ultimate vindication of a man is with Yahweh and not with himself. The conscience of a man, even the purest and most enlightened conscience, is not the final and infallible judge of character and conduct. "For I know nothing against myself," wrote the Apostle Paul, "yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord" (1 Cor.4:4). May we not conceive that, acting in this spirit within the limits of His human nature, Yah'shua submitted Himself to what He regarded as a divinely-appointed ordinance for His age? He waited in the waters of the Jordan on the verdict of Yahweh; and the voice which spoke to His innocent soul there was not, "Son, Your sins are forgiven You", but "You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Mark 1:11).
6. We may be right in thinking that at the Baptism the consciousness of Yah'shua that He stood in a relation of perculiar intimacy with and nearness to Yahweh burst into flower. Without going so far as to suggest that He there and then knew Himself to be the Messiah, or the Son of God,k in the highest and most exclusive sense, he did come to know that he stood nearer and liker to Yahweh than other men, and He was assured that the purpose of His heart was according to the will of His Father in heaven. Yah'shua received His commission for His work at the Baptism.
7. According to the Synoptic Gospels the message of Yah'shua concerned the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven. That was the phrase He used to describe its content. His first word, when He began to preach was: "The time is fulfilled. The Kingdom of God is at hand" (Mt.4:17; Mk.1:15, KJV). Many of His parables are an attempt to illustrate in human language and by the imagery of this world the nature and mode of operation of that heavenly Kingdom. He charged the Twelve to proclaim it, as they passed from town to town and village to village - "as you go, preach, saying, 'The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand'" (Mt.10:7). Many of His parables are an attempt to illustrate in human language and by the imagery of this world the nature and mode of operation of that heavenly Kingdom. He charged the Twelve to proclaim it, as they passed from town to town and village to village: "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand'" (Mt.10:7, NKJV). This command was also laid upon the Seventy, when they were sent out. Some may think that this incident was not a separate event, but a mere duplication in the narrative of the foregoing. If, however, we believe that there were two distinct Services of Dismissal, we shall note that, though the occasions and persons were different, the charge was the same (Mt.10:7; Lk.9:2; 10:2).
8. Of all the many definitions that have been attempted of the phrase, 'The Kingdom of God', Dr.Hort's has long seemed to me to me the most helpful and suggestive: "The Kingdom of God is the world of invisible laws, by which God is ruling and blessing His creatures". That meaning, said Dr.Sanday, is primary and fundamental, and all others are secondary and derivative. There are other rich and inspiring connotations in the New Testament. Great words cannot be shut up to one meaning. They live upon the lips of men, and with the use and growth of thought acquire for themselves a new wealth of significance. But in its root-meaning this phrase of Yah'shua seems not to connote a Kingdom in its modern concrete sense, but rather Kingship - the activity proper a king, the exercise of rule itself . The Kingdom of God is primarily the Kingship of God: it signifies, first of all, not simply that God is, but also that He is reigning now. We ourselves do not always see this: we doubt it or we deny it. The consistent whole of Yahweh's good governance of our life is not perceived, not believed in, by us. The world of His beneficent laws, into which which have not consciously entered, in which we do not consciously dwell, is invisible to us. In the stead of such laws our reason and experience may point to some ineluctable force which controls our own affairs and the fortunes, good and ill, of all men. If it is not hostile to us, then at least it is indifferent: it neither knows not cares for us not for any other mortal creature.
9. Yah'shua, however, lived in that world of divine laws: it was not invisible to Him. He saw it with the surest and clearest vision. He breathed the air and moved abd worked in the light of that world. He carried the atmosphere, the glory and the warmth of it, into the company which he kept. The men whom He sought out and who sought out Him discerned the brightness of Yahweh in His face. He saw Yahweh at all times and everywhere doing good to men - causing the sun to shine upon the evil and on the good, sending His rain upon the fields of the just and the unjust. This God was not indifferent to distinctions of right and wrong, virtue and vice; but His goodness was not to be turned aside nor dried up by ingratitude and malignity. The birds of the air fed off His bounty, and the wild flowers of the hillside were clothed in beauty by His good intent. He remembered and cared for the least of His creatures; and not one poor, lonely and downcast human soul was forgotten before Him. He willed food and clothing and health of the body. He had ordained and he blessed our human relations of parents and childred, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters. He felt the joys and sorrows of the home. He did not will that any soul should perish, but was always ready to forgive the sinner, for whom He longed and waited as a father for his prodigal. That was the fashion of God's ruling: these were the laws or modes of His Kingship.
10. Yah'shus did not despise nor forbid men the good things of this life - the fruits of their labour, health of body, their innocent human loves and friendships. He did not ask men to renounce these as evil themselves; but He taught that there is something above them all - the one thing needful. The summum bonum is to find Yahweh and to know Him and love Him and serve Him as Yah'shua knew and loved and served His Father. "But seek first the kingdom of God," He said, "and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Mt.6:33-34, NKJV). He declared the substance of religion and the whole duty of man to lie in one commandment, "you shall love the Yahweh your Elohim (God) with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30, NKJV). Next to it, but deepening on it, was the commandment to love one's fellow man. The Sermon on the Mount, with its pure and inward morality, has often been cited as the compendium of the highest utterances of Yah'shua - as His chief contribution to the world of religious thought and to the conduct of life. It is, however, secondary and not primary in His teaching. He makes the love of Yahweh, which includes the knowledge and service of Him, to be the essence of religion. It is there that he has placed the origin and centre of right living. The morality of Yah'shua arises out of and turns around His love for , Yahweh. The perfection of human character, according to Him, is to be like Yahweh - our Father in Heaven.
11. Arnold of Rugby made much use of a morning prayer in which he asked that he might still have the Ruach (Spirit) and do the will of Yahweh throughout the distracting business of the day. "When my mind cannot consciously turn to Thee," ran his phrase. In considering the story of Yah'shua we can never feel that Yahweh was far out of His thoughts. None the less, since He was a man, withn a mind constituted like our own, there must have been within Him intervals of engrossing activity and occupation in which Yahweh was not constantly present to Him. But, when these were over, with what sure swiftness and natural ease does His mind spring back to the conscious recollection of and communion with His Heavenly Father! Even in the press of the crowd, when calls came thick and thin upon Him, Yah'shua was at home with Yahweh. There were, however, those occasions, when Yah'shua withdrew Himself from work and from the company of the disciples, that He might be alone with Yahweh in long and unbroken communion. His habit of prayer appears in the records. A South-Indian convert from Hinduism reproaches Western scholars for neglecting this phase of the life of Yah'shua. Mr. V. Chakkarai writes:
12. But there is another mode of the life of Yah'shua. The world, as He saw it, was no kindergarten, full of pleasant things only and displaying none but mild and gentle ways. He did not make the mistake of under-rating the strength of His adversary. Obdurate evil in the disposition of men was a terrible power, and it produced terrible results. As Yah'shua looked out upon His own age and down the course of time He saw and forecast wars and rumours of wars, severences tearing at the heart-strings and most cruel persecutions, overwhelming calamities of Nature - even ultimately a physical world on dissolution. Yah'shua never promised His disciples a career of ease and comfort with immunity from peril and pain. He left room for the sterner and stronger qualities of manhood - for faith and cheerfulness, for courage and constancy in adverse circumstances and against man's enmity. But He never doubted that the goodness of Yahweh would prevail. Yahweh's throne was established to bring wickedness to an end. When it has come home to Yah'shua that He Himself will suffer the worst that wickedness can do, He knows and declares that all the powers of hell shall not destroy the Him, not that society He has founded. Yah'shua saw the Kingdom of God - Yahweh reigning, even in monstrous darkness at noontide; and except he had seen this Kingdom, He could never have consented to die. Because He saw it with the clearest vision, He was able to accept even the death of the Cross.
"Has it ever struck those who would penetrate into the mystery of His personality, that they should also possess such a prayer-life as His, and that then only can they understand Him?" (Jesus the Avatãr, p.34).
13. When I think of Yah'shua moving among the men and His time and bringing them all to the sense of God, a feeling of the presence of a Great Another - His Father, I am reminded of Hudson's description of Valerio. Valerio was that poor man whose wealth consisted in his little flock and a few horses: -
14. Yah'shua was one who in the clear morning of His youth went out and saw God His Father in the sun, and the glory of it passed in to His face and remained with Him all the days of His working life.
"Tell me, señor, have you ever in your life met with a man who was perhaps poor, or even clothed in rags, and who yet when you had looked at and conversed with him, has caused you to say: Here is one who is like no other man in the world? Perhaps on rising and going out, on some clear morning in summer, he looked at the sun when it rose, and perceived an angel sitting in it, and as he gazed, something from that being fell upon and passed into and remained with him. Such a man was Valerio. I have known no other like him" (El Ombu).
15. It was impossible to meet Yah'shua without being reminded of Yahweh. Just as the sail, drawing full, or the bowing corn-field suggests unescapably the unseen wind, so did all the ways of Yah'shua confess His invisible Father. "I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me" (John 8:16, NKJV) is the seal upon His every word and act.
16. Yah'shus is the supreme example of that self-concentration upon a high purpose, with its consequent self-mutilation or self-limitation, which He Himself enjoined. No man - not even through He be the God-man - can exhibit in the course of one short life all the various faculties of human nature at their highest power and in their maturity and perfection. Yah'shua was no creative artist - unless it be in speech, in which His parables are the aptest of their kind, but he wrought no poem or statue or temple to be the pattern and admiration of subsequent ages. He added nothing immediately to the world's sum-total of its knowledge of Nature. He was no scientist, or philosopher. He never even wrote a book. He held aloof from the burning political controversy of His generation. He did not advance the science and art of government by establishing a strong and stable administration, or by the codification and analysis of law. He was neither military conqueror nor statesman. The one thing He did - and it was the thing which alove all else needed to be done - He lived with Yahweh and for Yahweh as a man should, and he has bequeathed to us the manner of it. So that, ever since, He who was no artist has been the inspiration of the greatest art; He who knew no more of Science than the men of His age has been purging Science of its bane - intellectual pride and self-seeking; He who would not side with Jewish Nationalism or with Roman Imperialism is today the embodiment of conscience of the civilized world, before whom the most dread Governments stand in perplexity or self-condemnation. Yah'shua has become the test of modern life in all its departments to a degree which is true of no other man.
17. What was there in this comportment and doctrine of Yah'shua which could have aroused hatred and deadly hostility? It was so glad and gracious; and in its austerity so just and true. We might have supposed that it would win an ready acceptance, and that it could not give mortal offence to any. We shall see, however, that the teaching of Yah'shua made a most searching test of a man's disposition and manner of life. It was indeed, for all its grace and truth, "sharper than any two-edged sword ... and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb.4:12, NKJV). It threatened vested interests. It required a change in settled ways of living and ran counter to the strongest prejudices and passions. In those who were self-centred - and who, by nature, are not? - it sought to overturn the whole habit of thought and order of life. The reform which it would institute in the nature of a man could be described as nothing less than a new birth. We, who have been made wise by experience and a survey of history, know that the religion of Yah'shua is not a mild and impotent thing. It is, in truth, a dynamic of terrific potency: it has proved itself the most revolutionary influence in individuals and in society.
18. We may mention, in our approach to this question, some minor causes of misunderstanding and opposition. In every generation fathers and mothers have found it difficult to realise that the child they have begotten and borne, and brought up from helpless infancy, has come to manhood. They are slow to recognize that a son of theirs has arrived at the fullness of a personal existence with its attributes of independence and impenetrability. The opposition between youth and age, the rising generation and the elders, have been a favourite theme of the drama. Brothers and sisters, too, will not be ready to concede that one who has been their playmate, nrought up under the same roof and discipline, fed and clothed like themselves, is really very different from themselves and has transcendent qualities and powers.
19. The Gospels, in homely fashion, show us that the family of Yah'shua was very like other families. We are given one or two glimpses of their initial attitude towards Yah'shua. They did not believe at first in His prophetic mission. We read how they went out one day to bring Him home; for they said: "He is out of His mind" (Mark 3:21, NIV). They feared for His mental balance and health, and proposed to take Him back with them, and put Him under constraint, and compel Him to be quiet and take rest. When they reached the house where He was teaching, they found it impossible to enter, so great was the crowd of those who were listening within. When word was passed in to Yah'shua, that His mother and brothers and sisters were outside, waiting to speak to Him, "He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, 'Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother'". It was a reminder to those who were nearest Him in the flesh, that the deepest and most lasting affinity is in the mind and spirit. Where intellectual and spiritual sympathy is wanting, the physical tie becomes an irksome fetter. Yah'shus desired that the members of His own family should be of His mind and spirit (Mt.12:46-50; Mk.3:31-35; Lk.8:19-21).
20. There is a region in every individual - and not merely in the man who is a genius -which he must guard as his own. Each ordinary person, if he will but know it, has the dignity of a particular vocation, which he must assert and vindicate. No other human creature may trespass on that sacred territory of his personality, or direct and dominate him there: it is only for him and for his God. So young men and women, not of heroic stature or intellectual distinction, but plain individuals of average endowment have received in themselves the missionary's call, and have gone out from home and kindred, when even godly and loving parents have withheld their consent and disapproved the act. Happy are those fathers and mothers who are willing to stand without this chamber of the soul of a son or daughter and can wait in quietness and confidence for the decision.
21. Now, if this be true of us, lesser men and women, how much more true must it have been of Yah'shua. Among all in the family group the one who loved Him the most and knew Him the best was His mother. The context of her conversation with her son at the marriage feast in Cana raises a difficulty and a doubt. Ut is the story of one of those 'nature miracles' which are most hard to understand and to believe. None the less, the words of Mary to Yah'shua and of Yah'shua to Mary do indicate what was, in the end, the relation between these two. Mary is represented as allowing her womanly sympathy and kindness to prompt her to ask help from the son who had never failed her. I think she was expecting some extraordinary help, such as the son she now knew to be divinely commissioned alone could render. But here she was introducing upon that region which Yah'shua always guarded most jealously - the province of His unique personality. Whatever uncommon power or influence it was that resided in Yah'shua, He would never use it save at the direction of Yahweh. The Gospels, in their history of Yah'shua from the Temptation to the Crucifixion, consistently represent that this was the view He took of His particular dignity and powers. In this region He could share nothing with His mother: they had not this in common. The single rebuke was enough. She acquiesced and understood. Her "Whatever He says to you, do it" (John 2:5) was her reverent, loving and trustful word to her own family and friends: she still speaks it to the world today.
22. The initial unbelief and the natural inability of the family of Yah'shua to accept Him in the character of a prophet or of a greater than a prophet were not deadly. They were accompanied by an affectionate anxiety for His safety and well-being. His foes were not those of His own household. Perhaps we may say something similar of His fellow-townsmen. They had watched Him grow up; they knew His relatives, and all about them; they had seen Yah'shua at play and at work, and were familiar with His face and figure, His gait - the house where He lived and the clothes He wore. If other folks, who knew Him and His origins less, entertained great notions of Yah'shua, that was their concern; but they must not expect those who had lived in the town where Yah'shua was brought up to share their ridiculously exaggerated belief. Because the inhabitants of Nazareth knew the social antecedents and the external appearance of Yah'shua, they were apt to imagine that they understood Him altogether and could assess Him at His true value. Yah'shua was well aware of the prevalent feeling. It is significant that in all four Gospels He is said to have quoted the proverb about the prophet who was not without honour except in his own country. Probably He used it on more than one occasion, and sometimes we may think with a kindly and half-humerous allowance for the failure to understand (Mt.13:57; Mk.6:4; Lk.4:24; Jn.4:44).
23. Luke, however, has preserved a story of another and darker complexion (Lk.4:16-30). He tells us how Yah'shua attended the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath say, as he had been accustomed to do from boyhood. When He was asked to read the lesson and to give the address, He chose and expounded that gladdening and comforting passage in the book of the prophet about the Year of Deliverance. His hearers were touched by and astonished at His gracious eloquence; yet they did not stop to consider whether, as the speaker declared, that year had really come and the Deliverer was there in the midst of them. They passed on to the lame and impotent conclusion - "Is this not Joseph's son?" What Yah'shua had said implied that the Kingdom of God was at hand: nay, that it was manifesting itself already in works of healing and liberation. The fellow-townsmen of Yah'shua thought of that Kingdom as though it were another earthly monarchy or despotism, with Yah'shua as a friend at court for them. He saw that they expected from Him a special favour as to His old acquaintance. Here, too, as in the case of His family, there was an attempt to intrude upon the province of His unique personality. He was being asked to use His powers to oblige His old associates. In reply, Yah'shua reminded the congregation in the synagogue that in their own Scriptures it was shown how in the old days Yahweh had withheld His favours from Israel and bestowed them upon strangers. That aroused the fierce exclusiveness and fanaticism of the religious in Nazareth: a gust of passion swept over them. They would have seized Yah'shua and thrown Him headlong from the precipice which jutted above their streets. This incident appears to be exceptional. It probably was not representative of the populace of Nazareth so much as of the 'synagogue-going' in it. For the most part, the fellow-townsmen of Yah'shua may have regarded His work and claims with an egotistical satisfaction, or with shallow disdain and cynical tolerance. They would not have killed Him.
24. However it might have been with them, certainly in the wider circle of Galilee, for a time Yah'shua enjoyed a great measure of popularity. "The common people heard Him gladly." The failure of these - "the multitude" - was negative rather than positive. They would not have slain Yah'shua, though they did not exert themselves to save His life. Their eyes and ears were dull of seeing and hearing; their desires were gross; they asked for immediate and material benefits - "the bread which perishes". They found it hard to understand what Yah'shua meant or to love what He commended. The blessings He offered appeared to them unsubstantial and unsatisfying. And so the crowd fell off; many of them went away, and followed Yah'shua no more. If some among these Galileans, who once had wished to make Yah'shua a king, afterwards joined in the cry - "Crucify Him!", iy was at the instigation of others and not of their own impulse.
25. The population of Galilee included within it elements of political extremism and of religious fanaticism. Yah'shua had chosen one of the Twelve from among the Zealots, who were the party in fravour of violence. The teaching of Yah'shua about a kingdom, not of this world, to be apprehended now in the spirit, seemed to these men to be as tame as it was incomprehensible. They looked for a restoration of the monarchy to Jewry - with David's Son enthroned in the Holy City. They could make little or nothing of what Yah'shua proposed. They disliked His programme as vague and ineffective. They were deeply disappointed in Him; for with His powerful and attractive personality He might have made Himself a national leader. It has even been suggested that the traitor himself, Judas Iscariot, was affected by this mode of thought; and that, at the last, despairing of all other means, he resorted to the desperate expedient of delivering Yah'shua into the hands of His enemies in the hope that this He would be driven to declare Himself and to put forth His indubitable might. I do not think the Zealots would have crucified Yah'shua. Rather they would have said - "He is not of our way of thinking and acting; and we have no further use for Him. A good man, doubtless, but lacking in determination and force." They went their way, allowing Yah'shua to go His.
26. We shall look in vain fore the chief opponents of Yah'shua among any of these - His family, His fellow-townsmen, the common folk of Galilee, the Zealots. He did not give mortal offense to any of them: nor did they seek and compass His death. The Gospels, in varying combinations, name four groups as desiring to destroy Yah'shua and devising plots against His life. They are the Chief Priests and Elders, the Pharisees and Scribes (Torah-teachers), with the Herodians mentioned on two occasions. In the Fourth Gospel the generic term - "the Jews" - is frequently employed to describe the implacable adversaries of Yah'shua. It well repays time and trouble to study each one of these terms and each combination of them in the passages where they occur in the four Gospels; but there is neither room not necessity for this study here. The general situation during the brief public career of Yah'shua is well known. The Jews of Palestine had among them two main sects - the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The former held the chief and most sacred office in Judaism - the High Priesthood with its ricj emoluments. The family of the High Priests were in alliance with the semi-Jewish Herodian princelings and were supported by the Imperial power. The High Priest's position thus was buttressed by royal friendships and Roman patronage. The Sadducees were tinctured with Hellenistic culture and mingled more freely than the stricter Jews in Roman and Greek society. The Pharisees, on the other hand, were the strictest sect of the Jews, and regarded the Romans and Greeks as pagan and impious. They clung to the idea of God as the only rightful King of Israel. They were rigid and meticulous in their observance of Torah (the Law) with all the additions to it from Tradition, and their intercourse with the Gentiles was limited to what was necessary and inevitable.
27. Both sects were represented among the Elders or members of the Sanhedrin - the Supreme Council of Seventy of the Jews. Both sects had the eminent students and teachers of the Law - the Scribes or 'Men of letters'; but the Scribes who appear in the Gospels are evidently, in most cases, those who belong not to the Sadducees but to the sect of the Pharisees. They are so denominated in two passages of the Gospels (Mk.2:16; Lk.5:30).
28. In all four Gospels we can watch a conflict between Yah'shua and His critics and adversaries growing in intensity untilo it reaches its fatal climax. There is diversity of opinion about the duration of the ministry of Yah'shua, some assigning to it a length of three full years, others of one year only, and yet others to a period intermediate between these two terms. But whichever of these views we may adopt, it still remains true to say that a gradual development of the conflict can be traced. There are noteworthy differences in the presentation of this by the Synoptists and by the Fourth Evangelist. The former give prominence to the Galilean ministry. In these we see much of Yah'shua with the common people in the open air - in the court-yard of the house, on the shores of the lake, and upon the hill-side. The Fourth Evangelist, on the other hand, tells more of the ministry in Judea and, in particular, in Jerusalem, where Yah'shua was closely engaged with the religious leaders. The Synoptic Gospels give broadly an impression of a ministry which began in a bright spell of popularity. Then they show us Yah'shua, with set face, going up to Jerusalem under a darkening sky. As a matter of fact, however, the double response was always taking place from the beginning - a somewhat shallow and unstable acceptance with the people, and a dangerous opposition from their leaders. The Fourth Gospel makes it plain that this opposition was there from the beginning; but the Synoptic Gospels give indications of the same fact. And the Fourth Gospel, no less than the first three, shows that Yah'shua won a great measure of popular belief and support, and indeed that this enthusiasm of "the crowd" continued to the very end. The main difference between the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptists in their records of the struggle is that the former puts in the foreground as the principle cause of offense the claims that Yah'shua advanced for Himself. This Gospel is rightly analysed into phases of the Self-Revelation of Yah'shua. But in the Synoptists, whatever may be implicit in the earliest teaching and acts of Yah'shua, these personal claims do not appear prominently till towards the end.
29. All our Evangelists, however, depict the development of a conflict. An unspoken criticism arises in the mind of the onlookers, a murmur of dissent is heard, it grows in noise and strength of purpose, it passes into murderous intention and conspiracy, and it culminates in the plot - the arrest, the trial and death of Yah'shua.
30. The Fourth Evangelist's peculiar use of the term, "the Jews", has attracted much attention. It is a mark of the later origin of his Gospel, when Judaism had become a recognised opponent of Christianity. Bishop Westcott wrote in the Preface to his Commentary: "The Jews then presented to a critic, who looked back from a Christian point of sight upon the events which he described, the aggregate of the people whose opinions were opposed in spirit to the work of Christ" . But, in the sorrowsul and stern business of assigning responsibility to each of the various sections of the aggregate, we cannot exculpate the Pharisees from the guilt of the extremity of hatred, as Westcott seems afterwards to suggest (See Westcott's comment on John 11:47). He himself has written that "the Pharisees are the true representatives of the Jews". ALl the Gospels make it certain that, in the earlier stages of the ministry of Yah'shua, they were His most bitter and active opponents. It is true that, at the very end, the leadership in emnity passed from them to the "Chief Priests" - that is, to the High Priest and his party. It was Caiphas who warned the Council that prompt and decisive action was needed; and he arranged for the arrest. The Chief Priests committed Yah'shua to Pilate, and pressed the charge against Him. But thye arrest of Yah'shua had behind it the long hostility of the Pharisees: they would have slain Him had they dared, or had the opportunity been given to them. The opportunity arrived only after an agreement had been reached with the priestly party. The condemnation of Yah'shua issued from the whole Council, consisting of both Pharisees and Sadducees . The death of Yah'shua thus was brought about by a conspiracy of the two great sects of the Jews: divided by doctrine and manner of life, they were united in fear and hatred of Him. The whole system of organised Judaism - its ecclesiatical head and supreme Council, its most earnest confessors, and its authoritative teachers - were at one in the resolve to destroy Yah'shua. The priestly hierarchy, the piety, and the scholarship of Judaism combined to crucify Him. The men of religion slew the man of God. Why?
 The Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Mark
 We are told of one Councillor only, Joseph of Arimathea, who did not consent to the death of Yah'shua. Was he a Pharisee? The Fourth Evangelist records that another Councillor - a Pharisee, Nicodemus - uttered an earlier protest against the condemnation of Yah'shua unheard.