On one of the days when Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests, legal experts, and elders approached him. They said, “Tell us: What kind of authority do you have for doing these things? Who gave you this authority?”He replied, “I have a question for you. Tell me: Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin?” They discussed among themselves, “If we say, ‘It’s of heavenly origin,’ he’ll say, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘It’s of human origin,’ all the people will stone us to death because they are convinced that John was a prophet.” They answered that they didn’t know where it came from. Then Jesus replied, “Neither will I tell you what kind of authority I have to do these things.”

Well, this is awkward.

Sunday, Jesus came through town on a donkey raising a ruckus. Not content with turning the whole political system on it’s head, Jesus then makes a B-line for the temple and starts driving out corrupt religious leaders trying to turn a profit on people’s relationship with God. He even makes a whip out of cords, so I’m sure he caused quite a scene. Then, just a day or two later, Jesus is calmly sitting in that same temple, maybe even in the same spot where he had caused a ruckus, and teaching the people.

It’s not hard to imagine why these religious leaders are trying to trap him up. He’s a disruption. You can hear it in their questions: “What kind of authority do you have for doing these things?" Essentially they’re asking him where he gets the nerve to disrupt this nice, tidy little system they have going here. I mean, come on Jesus. How can you mess up things like that?

Now, we have a tendency in our day to vilify the Pharisees and the elders and the scribes, but honestly, haven’t we asked the same question? Jesus, where do you get the nerve to disrupt my plans for Sunday morning? Jesus, where do you get the nerve to invite me to serve in that godless place? Jesus, where do you get the nerve to ask me to work on reconciling my brothers and sisters? In an election year no less Jesus! Come on!

If we’re being honest, I bet we ask the same questions of Jesus these scribes and elders were asking. And I bet Jesus is just as coy with us as he was with them. This is one of those instances where Jesus has the annoying habit of answering a question with a question. He gives no answer in the end. It’s as if Jesus says “When I’m asking you to question the system you’ve created, there are no easy answers. You’re going to have to sort this out.”

As we’re marching toward the cross, what systems do you have that need to be challenged? Which systems are already being challenged, but you’re resisting the call of Jesus for one reason or another? Take a few moments today to journal over this, and tomorrow we’ll turn our attention to a few parables.

blog comments powered by Disqus