One day he was teaching the people in the Temple, proclaiming the Message. The high priests, religion scholars, and leaders confronted him and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?” Jesus answered, “First, let me ask you a question: About the baptism of John–who authorized it, heaven or humans?” They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him; if we say ‘humans,’ the people will tear us limb from limb, convinced as they are that John was God’s prophet.” They agreed to concede that round to Jesus and said they didn’t know. Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.”Luke 20:1-8
Notice, this is the first time for a while that Luke has made a disconnect between what has gone before. Temporally there is no time sequence. The one day merely signifies something that happened at another time. There appears to be no logical connection in this temporal statement “one day”. But that is not to say there is no connection at all between the segment before this and this one. Clearly the topic of conversation is still, Who is this One and by what authority is He operating? The High Priests, the religious scholars and the leaders (elders) have all missed the significance of His entry into Jerusalem and its connection with the Daniel prophecy. Notice how those confronting Him have increased in power and likely numbers as well. Now the High Priests join the party along with the religious scholars or scribes and the leaders or prominent elders in Jerusalem. I think for two possible reasons. Firstly, this upstart preacher has reached the centre of religious life in Jerusalem and He is right under their noses. Secondly, the nature of the claims that surround Jesus, not just by Jesus Himself, but by virtue of what the crowd following Him are saying, has to be addressed. In the minds of the High Priests and leaders, this is both a problem for Judaism and a problem for their relationship with the Roman occupation forces. The Romans were careful to avoid any threat to their rule. If there were a hint of a usurper to their control and a threat to the sovereignty of the Roman Caesar, then such a threat would be dealt with severely. Namely, by crucifixion. You can see where all this is heading, I am sure. The opposition against Jesus has gained strength now that He has appeared in the capital.
The Chief Priests opposed Jesus because He was challenging them in their own backyard — the Temple. The Scribes opposed Him because of His interpretations of the Law and because He was claiming to be the Coming Messiah. The Elders or prominent men challenged Him for the potential disruption to the peace of Jerusalem and the continued harmonious relations with the ruling Romans, among other things. Note: this is not the Sanhedrin as such who have approached Him, but a cross section of the spiritual leaders of Jerusalem; an unofficial, official grouping. Things are getting interesting. The political and religious manoeuvring is being ramped up.
The motivation behind the opposition in this case is clearly stated. They sought to destroy Him. The verb [apollumi] is used which means to destroy, kill, do away with, make an end to. The verb is in the imperfect tense which infers an ongoing aspect to the action from the past. That is, their intention to destroy Him has been present for a while now. But they didn’t find anything they could do. They had been seeking for a way to get rid of Him for a while. But they continued to not find a suitable excuse. I.e. They couldn’t come up with anything that would work. The people were hanging on n every word that came out of His mouth; they didn’t want to miss a word of what He said. That is ironic because that is exactly what they are advised to do. Man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Do you notice the stark contrast between the leaders and the people at this stage? They are diametrically opposed at this point. One group seek with all their heart to do away with Him; the other group seeking with all their heart to hear Him and draw close. How ironic!
Given all that as background, these leaders of Israel ask Jesus to show them His credentials.”Who authorized you to speak and act like this?” Where does your authority come from? It sure doesn’t come from us.
Our question must be, to speak and act how? Theoretically, this is not connected to what has gone before it. But the logical answer has to be that this question is connected to the immediate context that went before it – I.e., Driving sellers and others from the Temple. How dare you act like this on our turf! Who gave you the right to do this? In other words, the connection is with the Cleansing of the Temple. Therefore the things spoken must refer to the utterance,”The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” With this statement from Isaiah, Jesus has clearly linked Himself to God and the Temple, claiming it to be His own. That is the reason Jesus can act like this because He is talking about His Father’s House – The Temple. Go back to the discussion about Luke 2:48-50 in Gem 758.
His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” His mother said to Him, “why have You done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for You everywhere.” “But why did you need to search?”He asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in My Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what He meant.Luke 2:48-50
If Jesus knew to call the Temple His Father’s House back then, how much more so now that He has entered Jerusalem to choruses of “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.” Jesus knew exactly Who He was and in Whose authority He was doing these things. The highest authority there is. The problem was they didn’t recognize it, even though it was staring them in the face. The problem was also that Jesus had no certificates or credentials that the Sanhedrin or the Temple authorities would recognize. Therefore, a little hard to please or placate them. But Jesus is not into that any way. It doesn’t matter what they think about you when you are secure in yourself. I am tempted to share another Ian story but I think I will resist the urge this time around. Just to prove to you I can control myself for those of you who doubt it.
Once more, Jesus answers a question with a question.
“Jesus answered, “First, let me ask you a question: About the baptism of John–who authorized it, heaven or humans?”Luke 20:3-4
Oh, ouch. Trapped by their own subterfuge. “They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle.” I love the inferences here. They beat a hasty retreat to regroup. They withdraw from the conflict and discuss their options. They get into a huddle. “Time Out, Jesus”. We’re not ready just yet. Give us a minute. What follows in the text of Luke is abundantly clear to us. It is like they are trapped in a chess game. They are looking ahead at their options.
“If we say ‘Heaven’, he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him. If we say ‘Humans’, the people will tear us limb from limb, convinced as they are that John was God’s prophet”.Luke 20:5-6
I think they actually secretly know the right answer is “Heaven” but they sure don’t want to admit to that. If they say that, then their subterfuge is blown and the game is up.
But if they say, “Humans” then they will run foul of this crowd who are both convinced that John was God’s prophet and that Jesus is God’s Messiah. They are hanging on every word that Jesus is saying. If the Leaders say they believe John was not a prophet and therefore He, Jesus, is not Messiah, then they nail their colours to the mast and increase the opposition to their hold on the power in Jerusalem. They agreed to concede that round to Jesus and said they didn’t know. Wimps! So Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.”
If you don’t answer my question then there is no point answering yours. We are back to playing word games again with the leaders. Last time it was in Luke 5:33 and 7:33. Totally illogical but the Pharisees and the leaders don’t seem to value logic it seems. Their thinking doesn’t necessarily need to make sense. But if they answer logically then they will back themselves into a corner, so they play games. Hence, Jesus effectively says, “Enough of this game. If you can’t answer my question then neither will I answer yours.”
They actually know the answer to their own question of Him anyway, but don’t wish to voice it before the crowd. Let the games continue.
The real problem with your problem is you don’t immediately ask God for wisdom and help.Rick Warren
When you pray are you genuinely crying out to God or are you just talking to hear yourself speak?Joyce Meyer
Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.Benjamin Franklin
There are two types of Pain in this world: Pain that hurts you and Pain that changes you!Anon
When you’ve prayed for future growth, don’t complain when you no longer fit into your past!Rick Godwin