27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” 29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!” 31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) 33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
I am trying to imagine what it would have been like to experience this encounter. Jesus, the ex-carpenter, and his scraggly band of disciples (ex-fisherman, tax collectors and the like!) are in the temple and bump straight into the religious leaders. The temple was their turf, they would have been confident, enjoyed strength in numbers, been well dressed, looked very official and had those around them showing deference and respect. They would have been an imposing lot, and they were asking pointed questions of Jesus. At this point I think I would have been stammering and apologising and backing away and feeling really uncomfortable. But Jesus is not flustered, nor defensive, He is confident and assured and answers their questions on His own terms. Jesus asks them a tricky question, and says He will only answer their question if they answer His. Jesus diffuses the situation as they are stumped and leave Him alone.
Wasn’t it an opportunity for Jesus to explain who He was? Shouldn’t He have called on them to confess their sins and repent for their saviour was here? How could He answer them in such an unsatisfactory manner?
At the end of the day Jesus was doing the Father’s business. He answered to God and no one else. These religious leaders questioned His right to obediently do what God had called Him to, and He didn’t waste time or breath trying to convince these people that He had been sent by God.
Jesus was focused on loving God and obeying Him. He clearly didn’t focus on the opposition or feel the need to justify Himself to others. He knew what God had called Him to, and He walked in that.
God, help me to walk with the confidence and assurance Jesus had. I want to hear what you call me to and to live with a sense of focus, obediently following the path you set for me and not comparing myself to anyone else. Teach me how to live free like Jesus. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh