Connect with us


Mfonobong Inyang: The Passion of Christ & The Philosophy of The Pharisees



I find the Pharisees quite fascinating. Sometimes, one has to look at them from a different prism – a dialectic perspective that helps to deconstruct their playbook. Jesus’ interactions with them really helped me appropriate signatures to their philosophy. One of his most apposite descriptions of their modus operandi was this: “They do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” This group of people are experts at raising the bar of performance for others, especially their opposition but they refuse to be subjected to such high standards. In 2023, we no longer have the Pharisees around here but we sure do have their philosophy in play. The Pharisees played a significant part in the crucifixion of the messiah the people had prayed and waited for all their lives. The preliminary lesson here is that a group of people can, through sophistry, cause you to kill the very idea of greatness you have had all your life. I am going to highlight certain touch points in Jesus’ crucifixion story with the hopes that you won’t allow any Pharisee run you street.


For every messiah, betrayals are necessarily factored into their story. It’s a feature, not a bug. Not everyone that professes redemption does so from their heart, some are sons of perdition. They plant moles in the camps of those they consider major threats, to be activated at an auspicious time. This philosophy believes in being the highest bidder because everyone has a price; the more reason they are always looking to buy over law enforcement officers, voters, judges, polling agents, electoral officers, media houses, ‘intellectuals’, religious leaders and anybody who is willing to sell their soul. Even by their own admission, the Pharisees conceded that such money was “the price of blood” when Judas regretfully returned the cursed 30 pieces of silver. Be wary of them, and don’t sell out your country – for it’s indeed the price of the blood of many innocent people.


I did a treatise on Barabbas – not as a man but as a model for decision-making. 2000 years ago, choosing a well-documented criminal over a person with proven competence, character and capacity may have seemed far-fetched but events in recent times have shown that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Whilst you are free to choose, you are not free from the consequences of your choices. Elections are not just a referendum on the political class but our values are also put on trial. If you are not a thief, you have no business endorsing one. Pick a struggle and quit with the equivocation already; Barabbas is the metaphor for the preference of the Pharisees.


Beware of agent provocateurs. Their endgame is simple: to get you to act out of character which then gives them an opportunity to strike. They assassinated Jesus’ impeccable character by accusing him of all sorts: casting out devils by Beelzebub; treasonable felony; his disciples of not fasting; blasphemy for equating himself with God; not paying taxes; being a friend of sinners and most famously for challenging the emperor’s authority by wanting to be the king of the Jews. Jesus was familiar with their game, that’s why none of their lies stuck on him. As he shared private moments with his disciples, they invaded his space to arrest him on trumped-up charges. A disciple who was passionate but not according to knowledge, tried to be more catholic than the pope by attacking a member of the Pharisees’ militia but Jesus rebuked him.

Jesus alluded to the fact that he could easily call for millions of angels as reinforcement. True leaders always pass the test of restraint in the face of provocation. Isn’t it ironic that some people who have the clout to set everywhere on fire with a single tweet are the greatest ambassadors of peace and are more measured in their utterances? Yet those with zero-gravitas are always the ones threatening fire and brimstone. That year, the rugged tyre brand, Pirelli used to run a popular ad with the tagline: power is nothing without control. As I read this part of the story, I scratched my head in disbelief as someone who is literally called “The Word” would allow himself to be led as sheep to the slaughter – yet he opened not his mouth.


The Pharisees are the masters of smoke and mirrors. After Jesus was resurrected, they bribed soldiers to lie that his disciples stole his body. The sad thing about this falsehood was that “some Jews believe it unto this day.” Understand that at the height of the Roman Empire, the noblest job a man could aspire to was being a soldier – you were seen as the very embodiment of Caesar’s authority. That’s why they use authority figures like religious leaders, intellectuals, cultural influencers and those who have social capital as laundromats. Don’t you find it interesting that a person who brazenly rigs an election rushes to take pictures with religious leaders and even organizes a thanksgiving service – to thank God for a successful electoral heist? As per disenfranchisement is the will of God? This is why I always call out the intellectuals because their original JD is to deodorize evil. They don’t call it thuggery, but strategy. A lot of media houses have corn in their pockets, know this and know peace. Anywhere a leader with the philosophy of the Pharisees emerges, the media is usually the first casualty. You see the civic space? Otilo!


In those days, having a huge following wasn’t anything new, many movements preceded Jesus’. The Pharisees presented themselves as religious leaders to the public but they were really principal members of the deep state. In one of their meetings where they contemplated how to handle a massive movement which seemed to have rattled the establishment, Gamaliel, a staunch Pharisee and a legal luminary gave his colleagues a rather candid advice: “Refrain from these men and let them alone, for if this counsel or work be of men, it will come to nought but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it”. One of the signs of a genuine movement is longevity; an ability to outlast the storm. Notice that some people who claimed to be political juggernauts have fizzled out while those who are deemed greenhorns are still cooking. That’s the difference between political jobbers and patriots. For the former, once they deliver KPIs and get paid – everyone goes back to their tents. For the latter, even when unpaid, they remain voices in the wilderness crying for justice.

Perversion of Justice

Pontius Pilate knew Jesus was innocent but he was pressured by the Pharisees to do otherwise. As soon as the chief priests saw Jesus, they led the “crucify him” chants. Pilate tried to put up a fight by responding, “As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him (Jesus)”. However, the establishment blackmailed him with the accusation of betraying Caesar by releasing one who claims to be a king. Despite the earnest plea of his wife, he went on to pervert justice by ruling on technicalities instead of the merits of the case. Whenever you can, pray for judges – so that like Caesar’s wife, they must be above suspicion.


When the Pharisees believed they had successfully eliminated Jesus, listen to their conversation: “We remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.” In other words, your oppositions believe in your prophecy sometimes even more than you. Even though they seem to distract you with propaganda, they are working covertly to stop you. Will you believe your prophecy or their propaganda?


The odyssey of redemption had to be consummated in the crucible of crucifixion, not just so that a name greater than any other will be given but also so that he doesn’t become a high priest who isn’t touched by the people’s pain. Jesus learnt obedience through the things he suffered. You cannot redeem what you are not relative to; this is why the son of God had to become the son of man so that the sons of men can become the sons of God. The disciples of Jesus had to endure the mocking of the Pharisees so much that some of them reverted to status quo ante bellum – fishing. It’s ironic that the day Jesus died is called Good Friday, sometimes you have to endure the taunting of the opposition as a test – your faith must be mixed with patience. This too shall pass. Every messiah will go through similar circumstances, not because of who they are but owing to their redemptive mission. As I ponder on the passion of Christ, inflected with the incursions of the Pharisees – one lesson is certain: beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.


Now available in select bookshops and on my Selar Store - get your hands on my brand new book, Hope Is Not A Strategy; Faith Is Not A Business Model - Mfonobong Inyang is a creative genius who works with top individuals and institutions to achieve their media, tech and communication goals. He is a much sought-after public speaker and consummate culture connoisseur who brings uncanny insights and perspectives to contemporary issues. As a consummate writer, he offers ghostwriting, copy-writing and book consultancy services. A master storyteller that brilliantly churns out premium content for brands on corporate communications, book projects, scripts and social media. A graduate of Economics – he speaks the English, Ibibio, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa languages. He appears to be a gentleman on the surface but the rumours are true - he get coconut head! Reach out to me let us work together on your content project(s) - [email protected].

Star Features