When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. (John 12:9–11, ESV)
So not only were the religious leaders of the Jews plotting to kill Jesus, they also wanted to remove the evidence that Jesus was really who He said He was. There might be just a teeny bit of a reason for killing Jesus in the fact that He claimed to be equal with God and maybe some blindness on the part of the leaders is expected. And Jesus asks the Father from the cross to forgive them because they “know not what they do.”
However, this is not the case with plotting to include Lazarus in the festivities. The only thing Lazarus did wrong was coming out of the grave when Jesus told him to. Nothing in the Law could be used to persecute him; they just decided to do it anyway. Probably because they thought of themselves as doing a favor for God. This shows how the Law was typically used and abused by people without love. The hearts of the leaders were filled with hate and jealousy, so the use of the Law was false. They used it in a false way to condemn Jesus, and just ditched it when it didn’t suit their purposes. Either way, the Law was not in their hearts. We get a pretty complete picture of this in these three references close together in John 12.
So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:19, ESV)
If love for God’s Word was in their hearts, they would’ve rejoiced that the world was going after Him. Instead, they were upset that no one wanted to listen to them. They were tweezed that they were losing “their place” (John 11:48). This explains why John the Baptist, though a priest, worked outside of the system in the desert.
Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:42–43, ESV)
The leaders used the fear of being put out of the synagogue (life revolved around it more then) to keep people in line with their perverted version of God’s Word. Some of the leaders had a chance at something different. At this point they chickened out, but hopefully later they realized the error of their ways. Sooner or later we have to take a stand. We can’t let the bullies who threaten us with cutting off fellowship in whatever form keep us from saying and doing what is right. People with hate in their hearts, who twist the Word for their own purposes, even if they are in leadership positions in the church, have to be opposed. Take your stand on the Word at all times no matter what the risk.
“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. (John 16:1–4, ESV)