When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and elders of the people came to him as he was teaching. They asked, “What kind of authority do you have for doing these things? Who gave you this authority?” Jesus replied, “I have a question for you. If you tell me the answer, I’ll tell you what kind of authority I have to do these things. Where did John get his authority to baptize? Did he get it from heaven or from humans?” They argued among themselves, “If we say ‘from heaven,’ he’ll say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But we can’t say ‘from humans’ because we’re afraid of the crowd, since everyone thinks John was a prophet.” Then they replied, “We don’t know.” Jesus also said to them, “Neither will I tell you what kind of authority I have to do these things” (Matthew 21:23-27, Common English Bible).
Any child can tell you, “I don’t know” is rarely a good answer to a question. Whether the question is, “Who broke that glass?” or “Johnny what is 8×6?” I don’t know will more often than not, have consequences that follow. There is often an implication that either we actually don’t know and we should or we know but we are trying to cover something up. Either way, we are in trouble.
In the lesson today Jesus has his authority challenged. The chief priests and the elders want to know who gave Jesus the authority to do the things he does. Jesus gives them a challenge right back and who can blame him. Because the authority had not been given to him by them, they would reject any answer by saying “that person has no authority by which to give you authority.” Or, “you can’t possibly know God has given you authority.” In other words either we reject the authority given you or you have never been given authority.
So, Jesus decides to give them a challenge right back. They should know by now that anytime they believe they have Jesus backed into a corner he will find some opening and exploit it. That is what he does here. “You challenge me, so before I accept your challenge let me give you a challenge of your own.”
Jesus asked them, “Who gave authority to John the Baptist.” If they answered from God the response would be, “Why didn’t you believe him?” If they say from human creatures they feared the crowd would turn on them. Who is backed into a corner now? These guys may not have feared God but they sure feared the wrath of a crowd. They consider it all and then give the answer of a kid (like me) in a math class, “I don’t know.” It wasn’t a good answer.
Because the chief priests and elders can’t answer Jesus’ question, Jesus won’t answer theirs. Who can blame him. There is no answer that would satisfy those who question his authority.
The question for each of us today is not by whose authority does Jesus live and work in our world. The question is, do we give Jesus the authority to live in and be in control of our lives?
To whom do you give authority?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved