In Luke 21:1-7 serves two purposes, it narrates the events surrouding Jesus’ capture, but it also reveals to some extent the thoughts and motives of the Jewish leaders
ηγγιζεν δὲ ἡ ἑορτὴ τῶν ἀζύμων ἡ λεγομένη Πάσχα. Καὶ ἐζήτουν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς τὸ πῶς ἀνέλωσιν αὐτόν, ἐφοβοῦντο γὰρ τὸν λαόν. Εἰσῆλθεν δὲ σατανᾶς εἰς Ἰούδαν τὸν καλούμενον Ἰσκαριώτην, ὄντα ἐκ τοῦ ἀριθμοῦ τῶν δώδεκα· καὶ ἀπελθὼν συνελάλησεν τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν καὶ στρατηγοῖς τὸ πῶς αὐτοῖς παραδῷ αὐτόν. καὶ ἐχάρησαν καὶ συνέθεντο αὐτῷ ἀργύριον δοῦναι. καὶ ἐξωμολόγησεν, καὶ ἐζήτει εὐκαιρίαν τοῦ παραδοῦναι αὐτὸν ἄτερ ὄχλου αὐτοῖς.
Verse 1 and 7 betray the thought process of hte Jewish leaders. Verse 1 suggests that the leaders wished to kill Jesus. Assumedly they have convinced themselves that they are acting with ‘noble’ purposes within the framework of the law. I say this, because if they are not, then they are acting like political leaders lack of any genuine religious concern, and I don't believe Luke communicates this sense.
What kind of ‘fear’ (ἐφοβοῦντο imperfect middle plural of φοβέω) do the leaders have of the people. Were they afraid the people might reject their plan, are they afraid that the people might rise up and overthrow their leaders, or perhaps even kill their leaders? It seems most likely that their reason (v7) to apprihend him apart from the crowd is that they simply didn't want to enter into a popularity contest, they were afraid of being able to control the mob, which at one minute loved Jesus, and the next minute, could be riled up to call for his killing. It seems the Jewish leaders preferred to walk the path they were taking without inteference from the crowd.
It is interesting that Luke places at least a small focus on the motives of the Jewish leaders, they do appear to have convinced themselves that they are acting within God's laws, and they do appear to have a fear acting motivated by concern for what the people might think of them and how thep people might react. Is there a lesson in here for us? Do we at times convince ourselves that certain decisions are religiously correct when they are not, with a blindness to what God's true heart is for us, and what the law truly intended to communicate? How do leaders balance following God with the legitimate concern for how the people might react? Are there we times where we might avoid God's intentions for fear of the crowd, and are there times where living God's intensions for our lives are rightly done in secret?