By the time Jesus came to earth, Jewish religious thinking and practices had strayed far from what was taught in the inspired Scriptures. The religious leaders of the day—the Sadducees, Pharisees, and scribes—upheld man-made traditions, putting them ahead of God’s written Word. Time and again they accused Jesus of breaking the Law because he performed miraculous cures on the Sabbath.
By forcefully refuting their unscriptural teachings, Jesus challenged both their authority and their claims of having an approved standing with God. By contrast, Jesus came from a humble background and lacked their formal religious education. No wonder it was so difficult for such proud men to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah! Such confrontations so enraged them that they “took counsel against [Jesus] that they might destroy him.”—Matthew 12:1-8, 14; 15:1-9.
How, though, could the religious leaders explain away Jesus’ ability to perform miracles? They did not deny that the miracles occurred. Instead, they blasphemously tried to undermine faith in Jesus by attributing his power to Satan, saying: “This fellow does not expel the demons except by means of Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”—Matthew 12:24.
There was another deep-seated reason for their adamant refusal to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. After Jesus resurrected Lazarus, leaders of the various religious factions consulted together and said: “What are we to do, because this man performs many signs? If we let him alone this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” For fear of losing their power and position, the religious leaders conspired to kill both Jesus and Lazarus!—John 11:45-53;