Why were the pharisees supposed to believe Jesus and attest to Him being God?

Reading “Unparalleled - Jared C. Wilson” and coming across the discussion around John 8, I couldn’t help but think to myself; why should the pharisees have believed Jesus and His statements about being God? How feeble would their faith have been in their fathers’ teachings and their own beliefs had they admitted what Jesus faced them with! I hope my question is clear enough and wouldn’t cause any confusions or misunderstandings.


The book of John is constructed on the concept of believing. The stories in John alternate with positive and negative responses regarding faith (or believing). John 8 presents the “Light of the World” passage in which Jesus declared His value for true life. The Pharisees rejected His claim, saying that He testified regarding Himself & His testimony was untrue. He responded that He was telling the truth, plus He had the testimony of His Father. That testimony was in the miracles & prophets.

John 8 highlights the concept of “witness,” which also is important in John. The law of Moses said that no one could be convicted of a capital crime on the basis of one witness—two witnesses were needed. And Jesus had two: Himself & His Father. But it’s not Jesus who is being convicted, however. It’s the world, and because of its sin. Yet Jesus, who is the Light of the World, came to save the world, not convict the world (see John 3:17-18). His light is His message of salvation which offers real life.

So why should the Pharisees believe Jesus? Because only Jesus has the truth. A system of faith is only as strong as the object of faith. Those who trust in Jesus can be certain of the outcome of their act of believing. The Pharisees said that they believed in God, but really they just believed in themselves & their system of belief. They were as self-affirming as they accused Jesus of being. The difference though was that Jesus had the all-important testimony of the Father & the Pharisees didn’t.


This is a good question. I have often found myself wondering if I would have accepted Jesus when He was in front of me, or would I have been like the Pharisees? Here are a few thoughts though:

  1. In Matthew, Herod calls the Chief priests and the scribes asking where the Messiah is to be born and they pin-point Bethlehem. At His very birth there are hints that the Messiah is approaching. But let’s say that they reject the message of the wisemen (after all, they were gentiles), Anna and Simeon recognise the Saviour in the Temple!
  2. John the Baptist is causing quite a stir, so much so, the Pharisees send people to ask him if he is the Messiah. Not long after this John points out Jesus and says, ‘There is the lamb of God’.
  3. Once Jesus begins His ministry He heals the sick, casts out demons, raises the dead and performs many miracles. This doesn’t go unnoticed and Nicodemus says to Jesus, ‘We know you are a teacher come from God’. I assume the ‘we’ refers to the priests and rulers of the Jews.
  4. Jesus Himself tells the Pharisees that they search the Scriptures seeking eternal life, and then says, ‘but they bear witness about me!’ (John 5:39).
    So, in summary, there is fulfilled prophecy, the witness of John the Baptist, Jesus’ ministry and miracles and the Scriptures themselves. And I’m sure there is a ton more that could be said.
    To me, though, this reminds me to be humble. Paul says they failed to recognise Jesus so that God could graft the gentiles (me) in. And not by any great power of intellect or righteousness of my own, but by the grace of God. Thank you, Lord!

Sorry for the late reply but I am one that has thought the same things about the Pharisees but from a slightly different angle not that they should believe, but why did they not believe Jesus. I have a link to a book study that we did a month ago. In the link I gave a little back ground on what was involved in becoming a Pharisee and what it meant in terms of commitment. Would be interested in your comments.