By What Authority?
Rev. William Ilnisky
Wednesday, 06 June 2018 12:13
This chapter describes what is usually called THE DAY OF QUESTIONS. It was a day when the Jewish authorities, in all their different sections, came to Jesus with questions designed to trap Him, and when, in His wisdom, He answered them in such a way that left them speechless.
The first question was put by the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. The chief priests were a Body of men composed of ex-High Priests and members of the families from which the High Priests were drawn. The phrase describes the religious aristocracy of the Temple. The three sets of men---chief priests, scribes, and elders---were the component parts of the Sanhedrin, the supreme council and governing Body of the Jews. We may well take it that this was a question concocted by the Sanhedrin with a view to formulating a charge against Jesus.
No wonder they asked Him by what authority He did these things! To ride into Jerusalem the way He did and then to take the law into His own hands and cleanse the Temple, required some explanation. To the orthodox Jews of Jesus' day, Jesus' calm assumption of authority was an amazing thing. No Rabbi ever delivered a judgment or made a statement without giving it to his authorities. He would say, "There is a teaching that...." Or, he would say, "This was confirmed by Rabbi So-and-So when he said..." But none would have claimed the utterly independent authority with which Jesus moved among men. What they wanted was that Jesus would say bluntly and directly that He was the Messiah and the Son of God. Then they would have a ready-made charge of blasphemy and could arrest Him on the spot. But He would not give that answer, for His hour was not yet.
The reply of Jesus is sometimes described as a clever debating answer used simply to score a point. But it is far more than that. He asked them to answer the question, "Was the authority of John the Baptist human or divine?" The point is that their answer to Jesus' question would answer their own question. Everyone knew how John had regarded Jesus and how he had considered himself only the forerunner of the One who was the Messiah. If they agreed that John's authority was divine, then they had also to agree that Jesus was the Messiah, because John had said so. If they denied it, the people would rise against them. Jesus' answer, in fact, asks the question "Tell me where do you think I got my authority?" He did not need to answer their question if they answered His.
To face the truth may confront a man with a difficult situation, but to refuse to face it confronts him with a tangle out of which there is no escape. The emissaries of the Pharisees refused to face the truth, and they had to withdraw frustrated and discredited by the crowd.
Life Application: What did you learn from Jesus' action? Have you ever been confronted by someone who acted like "a know-it-all" about the Bible? If so, how did you handle yourself?
Praise/Prayer: Dear Father, The Bible teaches us so much. You want us to be able to answer questions people come to us with. We need the infilling of the Holy Spirit to give proper answers. I thank You for the dynamic of the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah! Amen!