Sunday 01 October 2017

Bible Book:

"When he entered the temple, the chief priests and elders of the temple came to him as he was teaching, and said, 'By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?'" (v. 23)

Matthew 21:23-32 Sunday 1 October 2017

Psalm: Psalm 25



If you were at home and someone stormed into your house andstarted telling your children how to behave, how might you respond?If someone came into your church during a Sunday service andstarted preaching uninvited, how would you feel? Wouldn't you askwho they were, by what authority they were doing these things andwho gave them permission to behave in this way? 

I sometimes feel that the chief priests and elders are given toomuch of a hard time. Jesus hadn't been given authority to teach byhis synagogue or by the temple where we find him being questionedin today's passage. So what right did he have to teach in thetemple? It's important to remember that this passage in Matthew'sGospel comes just after Jesus has driven out those buying andselling in the temple, overturning the tables of the money changersin verses 12 and 13. If he wanted to upset people,he's certainly going about it in the right way. 

So perhaps the chief priests and elders can be forgiven for beingmiffed and taking Jesus to task over his authority. But they got nosatisfaction from quizzing him. For them, debating with Jesus musthave been infuriating. You ask him a question and instead ofanswering it, he responds with another question - one designedspecially to trip you up. 

But perhaps their question wasn't so innocent after all. Jesus'response to the chief priests and elders revealed that they weremotivated primarily not by matters of decency or proper behaviour,but by their own self-interest. When they discuss how to respond tohim they aren't concerned with truth, but with what people willthink if they answer one way or another. So they decide to sit onthe fence. 

Maybe Jesus wasn't being cryptic just for the sake of it, it wasbecause the chief priests and elders refused to be open and honestwith him about their motives. Their question was a perfectlyreasonable one, but their attitudes undermined that. Because theyrefused to be real with Jesus, he refused to be real withthem. 

To Ponder

  • How hard is it for you to be real with God? What, in your life,do you need to be more honest with God about?
  • What authority does your faith give to you? How do you chooseto exercise that authority?
  • What authority do you attribute to Jesus' teachings? Howimportant do you think they are for 21st century life?
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