Every recorded hostile encounter Jesus has in the Bible is with very “churchy” people.
Not one hostile encounter involves a “pagan.” Well, not until the end at least, when the Roman troopers get hold of him—but even then he was handed over to them by the religious establishment.
Reading the Gospels, we discover a Jesus who is frequently embroiled in conflict—most of which he provokes himself (For example, healing on the Sabbath even when he knew it was raise the ire of the religious establishment).
Take Jesus’ attitude about the Sabbath: “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, ‘Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.’
“He answered, ‘Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. … If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” (Matthew 12:1-8)
Some background: The Sabbath was established by God in Genesis chapter 2, it was clearly for rest. In this encounter, Jesus makes clear that the Sabbath was made for man, not the other way around. In other words, we don’t serve the Sabbath—the Sabbath serves us.
Or after receiving an invitation to dine with the bishops of the church and other dignitaries, and having it pointed out that He did not first wash before the meal, Jesus said, “You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you’re full of greed and wickedness. “(Luke 11:37-39)
In order to understand what compelled Jesus, you must keep in mind the distinction between the laws of God and the laws of men, and furthermore, that magnificent difference between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law.
P.S. – By this point of Jesus’ ministry, the authorities think he is far too dangerous. In their minds, he is continually breaking the law and encouraging others to do so. They see him as an outlaw; they certainly end up hanging him like one.
The above text based on excerpts of John Eldredge’s book, “Beautiful Outlaw”.