Situation 1: What Authority Do You Have?
(Matthew 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8)
Who questioned him: chief priests, scribes, and elders
What they asked: what authority he had to do the things he was doing (this was right after he caused a scene and cleansed the temple of the moneychangers and merchants who sold animals to be sacrificed)
Jesus’ response: He said first they had to answer him whether John’s baptism was from heaven or from man.
Result: They refused to answer Jesus, so Jesus refused to answer them
Bottom Line: Jesus saw their hearts, that they were only looking to trap him. Therefore, he knew an honest answer would have done no good anyway; their hearts didn’t want to receive the truth.
What I can learn from Jesus’ response:
Although I cannot see into someone’s heart, I can ask for wisdom (James 1) and discernment to know the motives behind a question or challenge. These chief priests, scribes, and elders were not seeking the truth. They were seeking to trap Jesus. They were luring him to commit what they saw as blasphemy.
It’s worth noting that Jesus was not avoiding the question. He had answered it multiple times before. See an entire passage in John 5:19-47 where Jesus clearly said that everything he did came from God himself. The chief priests, scribes, and elders hadn’t had amnesia on this instance; they knew exactly what authority Jesus claimed to have. Jesus knew their motive wasn’t to seek truth, so he didn’t play into their ploy.
In the same way, some instances require a pause before answering or defending. Before rushing to answer, I need to seek wisdom in regard to the motives behind the confrontation. Is someone asking because they are truly seeking truth? Or are they asking to stir up an argument and catch me in my words? I certainly don’t want to be lured into that trap. I’m not Jesus and I would probably fall flat on my face despite my best efforts.
And I also have to face the fact that when a heart is hard, no amount of logic or apologetics or historical data is going to break through. I need to pray that God will penetrate that heart so that it would be open to hearing truth.
Instead of rushing to defend, I would pray this verse over the person challenging my faith: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
Once God has changed a person’s heart from stone to flesh, only then truth will penetrate.