Saturday 16 June 2012

Bible Book:

"Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?" (v. 2)

Luke 20:1-8 Saturday 16 June 2012


The actions of Jesus, prior to the dialogue in this passage,have shown him to act with authority. He rode into Jerusalem topeople cheering and praising the Messiah (Luke19:29-40), he criticised the practices within the temple and inso doing attacked the high priest (the most senior figure) and herehe is now preaching the gospel (good news of the kingdom) in thetemple courts (Luke 19:41-48).

The chief priest, the scribes and the elders were part of theSanhedrin, the governing body of the Jews. It was these people, thereligious aristocracy, who approached Jesus. They were questioningwhere he got his authority to act and speak in the way that he did.If Jesus directly answered that his authority was from God thenthey could charge him with blasphemy and arrest him.

However, Jesus responds to their question with another question,which was a common style of debating in the rabbinic tradition. Herefers to John the Baptist and asks from where he got hisauthority. The response can either be from God or not from God. Ifthe Jewish leaders say that John's authority comes from God thenthey have to recognise Jesus as the Messiah, for it was John whoproclaimed the Messiah and baptized Jesus. So if the Jewish leadersaccept John's authority as from God, Jesus does not need to answertheir question for they already have their answer. Alternatively,the Jewish leaders could have responded that John's authority wasnot from God. However there was a large following for John and theJewish leaders would have been concerned about an outcry from thepeople. They were more concerned about public opinion than theywere about what concerns God and feared a backlash from the peoplethat could damage their own authority. Because they had backedthemselves into a corner they could not answer either way so choseto say that they did not know. As they had refused to answer Jesus'question he could openly choose not to answer theirs.

To Ponder

To what extent do you live as though Jesus hasthe highest authority in your life?

Are there times when you are like the Jewishleaders, being more concerned about what people may think than youare about the concerns of God? How can you overcome that?

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