Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”
Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism–where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?”
Jesus fascinates me. No, really! Aside from Him being Divine and all, He is just brilliant.
Jesus was in the Temple teaching the people. He was teaching the people and sharing His heart about the Kingdom of God. And then along came the chief priests. I wonder if Jesus winced when He saw them coming. I wonder if He was thinking, “oh, not again”.
There are people like that in our lives. There are people who have an insatiable appetite to tear others down and destroy their dreams. Or perhaps they are people who just do not want to see others succeed. They are professional joy-killers.
As I was reading through the book of Matthew, I just wanted Jesus to “take them down”. He has so much power. And just once (or twice) could He have smitted a couple Pharisees? [I am not sure if “smitted” is a word, but it sounds good] I wanted Jesus to stand up and do something. But Jesus never sinned in His anger.
I cannot imagine what that must be like. What is it like to be so angry, but still in control? Most of us do not do well when we are angry. We are rarely under control. But Jesus was under control.
His response to the chief priests is brilliant. I could not understand what John the Baptist had to do with this situation. It was as if Jesus pulled a rabbit out of His hat; just some random question to throw them off track. But Jesus was never about randomness. Everything Jesus did had meaning and purpose. He was very intentional. And He is still intentional. There is meaning and purpose and intentionality in the things of this life, even when we cannot see it or understand. Jesus has not left us here to wander aimlessly until His return. Rather, He calls us to the same life of meaning and intentionality. He calls us to be disciples under control.
John’s baptism pointed directly toward Jesus. If John’s baptism was ordained by heaven, then Jesus’ authority was ordained from heaven. If John’s baptism was randomness generated by his own weird diet of locust and honey, then Jesus’ authority was also random and of human origin. Jesus was giving them the freedom of choose.
But they didn’t choose. They huddled together discussing their “answer” like they were on the game show “The Family Feud”.
“We’ll go with ‘we don’t know’ for the win, Bob”.
But we have to choose. We must make a decision. We must decide if Jesus’ authority is from heaven or from men. There is nothing in between. And do we really want to continue to wander aimlessly? I think we will until we make that decision. What are you going to decide about Jesus? Heaven or Men?