Archenemies of Jesus – the Best Witnesses


Archenemies of Jesus of Nazareth, Jewish leaders are some of the best witnesses to his birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection. Typically cited by the Gospels in a negative context, on the flip side they inadvertently acknowledged that Jesus possessed qualities of the Messiah as foretold in the prophecies.

One prophetic requirement generally undisputed by Judaism is the Messiah must be born in the lineage of King David. Neither Jewish leadership then nor Judaism now challenge it. Branch prophecies by Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zachariah, concurred by some Rabbi sages, are among such prophecies.[1]

Joseph and Mary came from Nazareth, a small community strongly influenced by Rabbis who would have been aware of family details such as relatives, reputations, activities, etc. When the decree of Caesar Augustus was announced by the praeco, the Rabbis knew the impact to the town’s residents.

Mary’s baby was in the lineage of King David…or else the couple would not have made the trek to Bethlehem when Mary was about to give birth. Still, with Mary was about to give birth, the couple willingly traveled about 90-miles to Bethlehem at the behest of the decree.[2]

According to Jewish Law, a month after the birth of a first-born son, a male baby was to be redeemed in a ceremony managed by a priest known as the Redemption of the First-born.[3] Luke’s account states that Joseph and Mary took baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem suggesting they didn’t return immediately to Nazareth.

One main purpose of the Redemption of the First-born was to affirm the son’s right of inheritance.[4] Customary practice was for the father to pronounce a blessing on his son at the ceremony to be followed by a feast. A Jewish priest attended the feast and had a dialog with the father to make an impression upon the attendees.

All four Gospels contain accounts of Jewish religious leaders wanting retribution for Jesus when he performed miracles on a Sabbath. To level the accusations, the Jewish leadership first had to acknowledge miracles had occurred in order to criticize the activity.

One Sabbath, Jesus healed a man with a withered hand in a synagogue, a place of prayer and worship headed by a Rabbi.[5] The Pharisees didn’t like that he had performed a miracle on a Sabbath and reacted by plotting against Jesus.[6]

Again in a synagogue on a Sabbath, Jesus saw a woman who had not been able to straighten up for 18 years.[7] When Jesus instantly healed her infirmity, the leader of the synagogue and other critics became indignant, but the crowd’s rejoicing humiliated them compelling them to take no action.[8]

Near the Sheep’s Gate at the Pool of Bethzatha on a Sabbath, Jesus saw a man who had been disabled for 38 years. Jesus simply commanded the man to get up, grab his mat, and walk away which the man did immediately.

Jewish leaders accused the healed man of carrying his mat on a Sabbath in violation of the Law. The man pointed out that the person who healed him told him to do it. Jewish leaders then turned their focus to Jesus and accused him of working on the Sabbath.[9]

On another Sabbath, Jesus noticed a man who had been blind since birth and stopped to talk to him. Jesus smeared mud on the man’s eyes and had him wash it off in the pool of Siloam. The man was then able to see for the first time in his life.

Doggedly the Pharisees questioned the man, then his parents who confirmed his blindness since birth. Questioning the healed man again, he replied by saying that he had already answered the questions, but they obviously didn’t listen.

Pharisees then heaped insults on the man accusing him of not knowing where such a man, Jesus, came from. The man’s response in his own words:

JN 9:30-33 “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.”NASB

Now infuriated, the Pharisees accused the man of being a sinner who had no place to lecture them. They were so upset, they threw him out of the place where they were questioning him.[10]

During a very raucous day, Jairus, a synagogue leader, begged Jesus to heal his 12-year old daughter who was dying. Before Jesus could reach his house, friends arrived with news that the daughter of Jairus had died. Jesus still went to Jairus’ house where he encountered people who were loudly crying and wailing.

Asking everyone to leave excepting Jairus, his wife and some followers, Jesus went into the room and said, “Talitha koum,” get up and walk. The girl immediately stood up and walked around the room astonishing those who were present.11]

Bethany was the town where Lazarus lived, died and was buried. Arriving four days after Lazarus died, Jesus raised him from the tomb where he was laid to rest.[12]

When the Pharisees heard of what had happened and fearing the Romans if the people followed Jesus, they called a council meeting with the chief priests to devise a plan to deal with him. High Priest Caiaphas was at the meeting and proposed that one man, Jesus, should be killed for the entire nation prompting them to make plans accordingly.[13]

Judaism agrees with the Gospels in that Jesus was executed by crucifixion.[14] Ironically, opposite of the Gospels, is the assertion by Judaism that crucifixion is the reason why Jesus could not be the Messiah:[15]

“The very form of his punishment would disprove those claims in Jewish eyes. No Messiah that Jews could recognize could suffer such a death…” (Deut. xxi. 23), ‘an insult to God’ (Targum, Rashi).” –

After the crucifixion of Jesus, Chief priests and the Pharisees approached Rome’s jurisdictional authority of Judea, Pilate, acknowledging Jesus was dead and buried in a tomb – in fact, he was buried by two members of their own Jewish Council.[16] The Jewish leaders then requested Pilate to secure the tomb to prevent the body from being stolen.

As a consequence of their testimony, the tomb was sealed and guarded by a Roman-Jewish contingent called a koustodia. The security was breached supernaturally in a frightening scenario that terrified everyone who witnessed it and they ran away in at least three directions.

According to Matthew, the Jewish Council responded to the report by some of the koustodia that the tomb security was breached and the tomb was now empty. The guards were worried about being punished for dereliction of duty; however, the Jewish Council paid the guards money and promised to take care of Pilate if it became an issue.[17]

Do the acknowledgments by various Jewish leaders to the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection support the Gospels accounts?


Updated May 6, 2024.

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[1] Isaiah 11:1-2; Jerimiah 23:5, 33:15, Zechariah 3.8, 6:12-13. Maimonides, “Letter to the South (Yemen)”. p374. Neubauer, Adolf, and Driver, Samuel Rolles.  The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters. <>  Crispin, Moshe Kohen ibn. “Sefer ha-Musar.” Neubauer, Driver, et. al. The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters. pp 99-101.  Marlowe, Michael.  Editions of the Hebrew Text of the Bible. Bible Research. “The Incunabula.” 2012. <>  Rosenau, William. Jewish Biblical Commentators. pp 87-91 n.d. < fifty-third chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters. pp 99-100.  Niles, Randall. “Caiaphas the High Priest.” 2017. Image.> Last accessed 23 Mar. 2023.
[2] Nehemiah 12:23. Josephus, Flavius.  The Life of Flavius Josephus. Trans. and Commentary. William Whitson. The Complete Works of Josephus. #1, footnote t. n.d.  <>  Maimon, Moshe ben (Maimonides). “Melachim uMilchamot.” Chapter 11, #4. <>  Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Ed. Isidore Epstein based on the Wilna Romm Edition. Sanhedrin Chapter VI, Folio 43a. 1935-1948. <>  Shachter, J. and Freedman, H. “Sanhedrin.” Soncino Babylonian Talmud. “Introduction.” Greenberg, Eric J. “Jesus’ Death Now Debated by Jews.” Jewish Journal. 2003. Reprinted from The Jewish Week.  <>
[3] Luke 2:21-24.
[4] Exodus 18:25-26; Deuteronomy 1:15-17, 16:18-20; Leviticus 12:6-7; Numbers 18:15-16; Matthew 12:9; Mark 11:18; Luke 6:6-11; John 11:46-48. CR Exodus 13:2; Numbers 3:46-49, Deuteronomy 21:17. Edersheim, Alfred. The Temple – Its Ministry and Service. 1826 -1889. “The Offering for the First-born.” <>  “First-born, Redemption of.” Jewish Encyclopedia. <> “First Born, Redemption of.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. Sanhedrin 49b. Soncino Babylonian Talmud. <>  “Chief Priests.” 2019. <>
[5] John 12:42-43. “What Is a Synagogue?” n.d. <>
[6] Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11.
[7] “Kyphosis.” Mayo Clinic. n.d. <> “What Causes a Hunchback (Kyphosis)? Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Tips.” Doctors Health Press. 2017. <>
[8] Luke 13:10-17.
[9] John 5:3-18.
[10] John 9:1-34.
[11] Mark 5:21-43.
[12] John 11:38-44.
[13] John 11:46-53.
[14] Melachim uMilchamot.” n.d. Chapter 11.4.
[15] Tacitus, Gaius Cornelius. The Annals. 109 AD. Trans. Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb.  Internet Classic Archive. 2009. Book XV.  <>  Suetonius (C. Suetonius Tranquillus or C. Tranquillus Suetonius). The Lives of the Twelve Caesars.  Book VI “Nero.” #16. University of Chicago|Bill Thayer. <>  Lucian of Samosata. “The Death of Peregrine.” The Works of Lucian of Samosata. Volume IV. <> “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <> “God Cannot die!” 2012. < Babylonian Talmud. Ed. Epstein, Isidor. “Introduction to the Seder Nezikin.”  Sanhedrin Chapter VI, Folio 43a.  Shachter & Freedman. “Introduction to Sanhedrin.” Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Greenberg, Eric J. “Jesus’ Death Now Debated by Jews.” Jewish Journal. 2003. Reprinted from The Jewish Week. <>
[16] Matthew 27:57, Mark 15:43, Luke 23:50-52, John 19:38. Mark 15:43. Footnote #1. <> Luke 23:50. Footnote #2. <>
[17] Matthew 28: 11-15.

Close Encounters:  Cleopas, Resurrection Eyewitness


Luke’s investigative Gospel contains one of the greatest eyewitness statements of anyone who encountered the resurrected Jesus.[1] The eyewitness statement of Cleopas is quoted in Luke chapter 24.

Eyewitness statements carry significant weight both in ancient and modern law as well as in the eyes of God.[2] The Law of Moses handed down by God defined that two eyewitnesses were required to establish a fact.[3]

Cleopas and his traveling partner, possibly his wife, were walking home to Emmaus from Jerusalem on that first Easter Sunday after Jesus was crucified that previous Friday. Much had happened over the Passover weekend making it a hot topic of discussion.[4]

Since the main mode of transportation by the Jewish community was walking, it was not unusual to encounter others on the road going to and from, especially since it was Passover week. Joined on the road home by a stranger, he asked what they were discussing so intently? Incredulous, Cleopas asked,

“Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”[5]

“What things?” the man asked.[6]

Answering the question Cleopas gave the stranger a succinct witness statement summarizing the events that had transpired. He began by identifying a man known as Jesus of Nazareth whose powers caused people to recognize him as a prophet:[7]

LK 24:19-23 “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” (NKJV)

Resurrection accounts of all four Gospels are corroborated by the statement of Cleopas – Matthew, Mark and Luke predicting Jesus would rise again on the third day and of angels greeting Mary Magdalene, Salome, Joanna and Mary the mother of James at the empty tomb; and Luke and John account descriptions of two Disciples, Peter and John, verifying that the tomb was empty as reported by the women from Galilee.[8]

Cleopas had expressed hope that Jesus would be the one who would redeem Israel. Now it was the third day after the crucifixion and his hope was renewed by the reliable reports of a resurrection. Yet, to his knowledge, no one had yet seen the resurrected Jesus.

In response, the unidentified travel referred to Cleopas as a fool or foolish which may not be how those two words are understood today. The Greek word anoetos means “not understood, unintelligent” while the secondary definition is “not understanding, unwise, foolish.”[9] Anoetos is derived from the Greek word noeo with the primary meaning “to perceive with the mind, to understand, to have understanding.”[10]

Essentially the response from the unidentified man expressed his frustration with the lack of understanding and slowness of people to comprehend the prophesies concerning the Messiah. Still unidentified, the man continued by asking, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”[11]

Most significantly, the man did not dispute the statement of Cleopas indicating his acceptance that the account was accurate. Had the account been inaccurate, it would be expected that a man with full knowledge of the events would correct or dispute the statement if he knew it was incorrect – the statement of Cleopas was not disputed.

Instead, the stranger interpreted the prophecies written in the Scriptures beginning with Moses and the prophets who followed.[12] Nevertheless, the couple still did not connect the dots that they were talking to the resurrected Jesus. Why should they?

Consider the circumstances – they were not one of the chosen Disciples; they were outside of Jerusalem; most of what they knew was second-hand information; and no one to their knowledge had seen the resurrected Jesus who had been crucified and buried. It was probably inconceivable to them that the resurrected Jesus was the identity of the stranger who joined them.

Getting late in the day, the concerned pair invited the man to their home in Emmaus. He accepted their offer and stayed during supper preparations.

Sitting down to eat the meal, their guest blessed the food, broke the bread and served it. “At this point their eyes were opened and they recognized him. Then he vanished out of their sight.”[13]

Something that the man said when he prayed caused the Cleopas pair to realize that the identity of the stranger in their midst was, in fact, the resurrected Jesus.[14] What did Jesus say? His words are not recorded in the Gospels; however, their recognition of Jesus was confirmed when he simply vanished right before their eyes.

Did the Cleopas pair believe they had just encountered Jesus? Their actions provide a very strong clue. The pair took on the challenges of an immediate walk back to Jerusalem – a 7-mile trek by foot on a hilly, unpaved road, near sunset.[15]

Arriving back in Jerusalem at the location of the eleven Disciples and other followers, they learned “The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon!”[16] Cleopas told them about their encounter and it was not until Jesus prayed before their meal when they recognized him.

Comparing and sharing their experiences, there was more to come… “Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you.’”[17] Neither Cleopas nor his partner disputed that it was the same person they had encountered previously in Emmaus who was now standing before them again in the room in Jerusalem.

First Jesus showed the group the healed crucifixion wounds in his hands and feet suggesting that they touch them to see for themselves that he was flesh and bone. Further, to prove he was real and not just an apparition, Jesus ate some fish.

Saying the same thing he had told Cleopas and his partner on the road home to Emmaus, Jesus affirmed to the group that what had happened to him was predicted by Moses, the prophets and in the Psalms. “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day …” this time adding “repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”[18]

Gospel accounts are in sync, consistent and corroborated by the Cleopas eyewitness statement. Does his eyewitness statement of the trial, crucifixion and resurrection events ring true?


Updated May 4, 2024

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[1] “Cleopas, Why You Should Know Him.” Yeshua in Context. 2010. <>  “Cleopas.” name doctor. image. n.d. <>
[2] “Ketubah.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Ed. Isidore Epstein. Sanhedrin 9a, 30a, 32a-b, 49b, 56a-b. 1935-1948. <> Foster, Brittany. LegalDepot. “Witnesses in a Legal Document.” 2018. <>  “A Notary Official Signature.” American Association of Notaries. 2019. <>
[3] Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15; Numbers 35:30.
[4] “Clopas.” Abarim Publications. 2021. <>  “Cleophas.” Catholic Encyclopedia. 2020. <> Jones, Victoria Emily. “The Unnamed Emmaus Disciple:  Mary, wife of Cleopas?” Art & Theology. 2017. <>
[5] Luke 24:18. NRSV.
[6] Luke 24:19.
[7] Luke 24:19-24, 31.
[8] Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:3. CR Matthew 27:62-63; Mark 8:31-32, 9:31; Luke 18:31.
[9] Luke 24:25.  “anoetos <453>.” 2021. <>  “G0453.” Lexicon-Concordance Online Bible. n.d. <>
[10] “noeo <3539>.” 2021. <> “G3539> Lexicon-Concordance Online Bible. n.d. <>
[11] Luke 24:26. NASB.
[12] Luke 24:27, 32.
[13] Luke 24:31. NET.
[14] Luke 24:31, 35.
[15] Luke 24:33. “Topography of Jerusalem Looking from the South.” Generation Word. 2005. <>
[16] Luke 24:34.  NET, NASB.
[17] Luke 24:36. NKJV.
[18] Luke 24:44-46. NASB. Luke 24:47. NSRV.

Jewish Leaders – Recognition of the Messiah?


Jewish leadership acknowledged the supernatural abilities and authority of Jesus of Nazareth…some even recognized him as the Messiah yet many eventually sought to kill him. It began at the time of his birth.

Magi saw signs that a special King of the Jews was to be born and began a quest traveling hundreds of miles not knowing exactly where to find him. Going to the king’s palace in Jerusalem seeking more information, King Herod gave the Magi the birth location of the Messiah as it was provided to him by the Jewish religious experts in the Law and chief priests.

Herod’s question to them had been simple – where is the Christ (Greek for Messiah) to be born?  His question was based not on “if,” rather an assumption of fact asking “where” the Messiah was to be born? Their answer:  “In Bethlehem of Judea.”[1] Accordingly, based on the response from the Jewish religious experts, Herod sent the Magi to Bethlehem where they did indeed find the child, Jesus.

Eight days after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary took him to the Temple in Jerusalem a few miles away to comply with the Jewish laws to formally name him, to be circumcised, offer a sacrifice and for his father to bless him.[2]

A man named Simeon is described in Luke as a righteous and devout man was who was seeking the “consolation of Israel.” He had previously received a vision that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.

Simeon was inspired to go to the Temple on a particular day which happened to be the same time that Joseph and Mary took baby Jesus to the Temple. He met Joseph and Mary at the Temple, took the babe in his arms, blessed Jesus and said:

LK 2:30-32 “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (NIV)

Amazed by Simeon’s words, he had one more thing to tell Joseph and Mary about their child. Simeon foretold to them what to expect for the life of Jesus:

LK 2:34-35 “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (NIV)

Anna was a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel of the Asher tribe. Her husband had died after only seven years of marriage leaving her a widow for the next 84 years. Living a reclusive life, she never left the Temple fasting and praying day and night.[3]

Seeing Joseph, Mary and Jesus during their visit to the Temple, Anna came up to them and began giving thanks to God. After that time, the prophetess spoke of Jesus to all who came into the Temple interested in the “redemption of Jerusalem.”

Several groups of Jewish religious leaders are referenced in the Gospels typically in opposition to Jesus during his final three-year ministry – the rulers of the Sanhedrin, the High Priest, the Pharisees, the Herodians, the chief priests, the legal experts and the elders.

Opposing Jesus as a threat to fundamental Judaism, the Jewish leaders acknowledged the supernatural abilities and powers of Jesus through their criticisms thereby inadvertently corroborating that he possessed the characteristics of the prophesied Messiah.[4]

Sanhedrin was the ruling political body of the Jewish theocracy originally established by Moses.[5] The High Priest was the head of the Sanhedrin and political leader of all the Jewish people.[6]

Scribes were the legal experts of Jewish law, the lawyers of the day.[7] Chief priests were religious leaders from the Temple and members of the Sanhedrin.[8] Elders were valued in Jewish society for their wisdom in consultations.[9] Herodians were a minor religious faction although they shared a common enemy of Jesus.[10]

Chief priests, legal experts and elders acknowledged Jesus had the supernatural power and authority to cast out demons and to perform “signs” often translated as “miracles.”[11] Asking Jesus to identify the authority of his power “to do these things,” they could not answer a legal riddle he posed to them and, in return, Jesus didn’t answer their question either.[12]

Pharisees were one of three predominate religious factions in Jerusalem and most noticeable throughout Judea and were the primary nemesis of Jesus in the Gospels.[13] Inexplicably, they viewed Jesus as being on their level calling him “teacher” who taught “the way of God in truth” and took offense when Jesus dared to eat with the “sinners.”[14] Admitting Jesus performed “signs ” so amazing that “the whole world has gone after him,” it served as the trigger point to take action to kill him.[15]

Arresting Jesus, the Jewish leadership put him on trial when he admitted under oath to being the “Son of God.” The High Priest in charge of the trial, Caiaphas, reacted to the admission by tearing his clothes in a customary display of grief for hearing blasphemy exclaiming, “Why do we still need witnesses?”[16]

Not all the Jewish leadership shared the same disdainful views of Jesus. In one instance, Jesus was invited to dinner by a Pharisee named Simon.[17] While dining, an uninvited guest – a local woman “sinner” – washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and hair. Jesus forgave her many sins causing Simon and his guests to wonder who is Jesus to be able to forgive sins?[18]

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were identified as Jewish rulers who followed Jesus.[19] Nicodemus had met secretly with Jesus and once pushed back on unfair accusations of his ruling peers.[20] Joseph asked Pilate for the crucified body of Jesus and both Jewish rulers together buried him in Joseph’s unused tomb.[21]

King Herod believed as a result of the Magi’s visit through the words of his royal Jewish council that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem. At the Temple, baby Jesus was  recognized twice as the Messiah. Later in life, archenemies of Jesus acknowledged his supernatural abilities to heal, perform other miracles, and his authority of power over evil.

What did some Jewish leaders see that others did not – was Jesus the prophesied Messiah?


Updated May 6, 2024.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


[1] Matthew 2:5.
[2] Luke 2:21-33.
[3] Luke 2:36-38.
[4] Exodus 18:25-26; Deuteronomy 1:15-17, 16:18-20; Matthew 12:9; Mark 11:18; Luke 6:6-11; John 11:46-48. Sanhedrin 49b. Soncino Babylonian Talmud. 1935-1948. < “Chief Priests.” 2019. <>
[5] “Sanhedrin.” 2011. <>
[6] “High Priest.” 2011. <>
[7] “Scribes.” 2011. <>
[8] “Chief Priests.” 2019. <>
[9]“Elder.” Jewish Virtual Library. 2021. <>
[10] “Herodians.” 2011.  <>
[11] Mark 2:6; 3:22; Luke 6:7; John 11:47.
[13] “Pharisees.” 2011. < s/12050-perushim >
[14] Matthew 22:16; Mark 2:13-16. Luke 5:30, 7:39, 15:2: John 8:3.
[15] Matthew 12:9, 22:15; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 5:21, 6:2, 11, 11:53; John 7:31-32, 11:47-50; 12:19.
[16] Mark 14:61-63. NET, NRSV. CR Matthew 26:63-65; Luke 22:70-71. O’Neal, Sam. Learn Religions. 2019. <>
[17] Luke 7:44.
[18] Luke 7:36-35.
[19] John 3:1, 7:50-51, 19:38-39.
[20] John 7:50-51.
[21] Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-53; John 19:38-42.