As we are getting closer and closer to Easter many people are so focused on the Easter bunny they are missing out. Others are so focused on rules and regulations they are missing out on the freedom Jesus offers us.
The big question that the rule following Pharisee's had was what gives Jesus the right? Jesus had a unique way of answering this question. Sadly, inquiring minds never found out the answer. Because they were too scared to answer Jesus's questions.
Jesus entered the temple courts and while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”
Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”
They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. - Matthew 21:23-27
What lessons can we learn from the Chief Priests questioning Jesus' authority?
Disown / Deny Christ?
This story brings so many questions. But first it reminds me of another verse.
But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. - Matthew 10:33
The Chief Priests and Elders had spent so much time trying to trap Jesus that all they could see was a trap. They started analyzing Jesus question to them. If we say this then .... and if we say that then... No, I don't believe Jesus was trying to trick them. In reality, Jesus was trying to offer than truth. If they would have denied that John's baptism was from God then he would need to start a different way.
If they believed John's baptism came from God then they were half way there. That wasn't a trick, it was an opportunity to acknowledge Jesus. It was step 1 to believing in him. Because they refused to answer he refused to answer them.
Because of their fear they couldn't be right or wrong. They were lukewarm.
Hot, Cold, or Lukewarm?
In Revelations, we're reminded that God wants hot or cold, but not lukewarm.
So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. - Revelations 3:16
Here is a perfect example of lukewarm. They could have denied him, or they could have acknowledged him, but instead they decided to stay out of it. God doesn't want us to fear making a mistake so much that we are lukewarm. No, he wants us to make time to know his will and his love.
But that means testing the spirit.
Testing the Spirit?
Jesus was testing the beliefs and spirits of the Chief Priests. We must also test the beliefs and spirits of those we deal with.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. -1 John 4:1-3
If the Spirit is from God it will acknowledge Jesus and his authority from God. If they aren't well they won't. Another thing we need to look at is their fruit. Is it good or bad? In our world, so many come stating they believe in Jesus, but their fruit isn't good. We must beware of this as well.
Don't be like the Chief Priests and Elders. If you have questions about Jesus, read his words, ask questions. Don't let fear keep you from knowing Jesus.
Dear Lord, As I work on living fearlessly, help me to make decisions. Help me not to fear the wrong decision so much that I stay put. Help me to put my trust in you, testing the spirit of those who wish to lead me. Help me to forever hold on to your hand. In Jesus Name, Amen
I notice we all gravitate toward certain lessons. Which of these 3 lessons are something you are working on?