September 03, 2020 – Thursday
Mark 11:29-33 NIV
29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”
31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’
32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)
33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
The above is Jesus answering two questions put to Him by the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. According to Mark in 11:27, they asked these questions while Jesus was walking about in the temple courts. In Matthew 21:23 we are told Jesus was teachingwhen these questions were put to Him. The two questions were: By what authority are you doing these things?” Then, And who gave you this authority? The comments on this exchange in Matthew may be found here.
About the questions asked of Jesus, Peter Pett’s commentary makes the point Their question seemed reasonable. It was their responsibility to check the credentials of any who claimed religious authority and they were also responsible for public order, especially in the Temple, and He had undoubtedly caused some disarray. Then he adds But they had had plenty of opportunity for questioning Him and weighing Him up before, and they could first have spoken with Him in private. The way Jesus dealt with them demonstrated that He saw their challenge now as hostile, not neutral.
Knowing His questioners were not only hostile, but did not care for the truth, He asked them a question they dared not answer truthfully. If they answered truthfully, they would have said, “John’s baptism was from heaven.” But that would have created another problem for them because as Guzik states If John really was from God, then he was right about Jesus and Jesus was indeed the Messiah. If what John said was true, then Jesus had all authority.
And that was an answer they could not handle for they had already rejected it. They had rejected it because Jesus did not need to tell them as the works He did, the miracles He performed, could only be done if He had authority from God. There was no way they could have been realized unless God were with Him.
They had to know this in their heart of hearts but due to their own purposes, they made themselves blind to the truth. It was a truth they could not face. Guzik quotes Barclay who says, The whole story is a vivid example of what happens to men who will not face the truth. They have to twist and wriggle and in the end get themselves into a position in which they are so helplessly involved that they have nothing to say.
You might wonder why the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders feared answering that John the Baptist baptisms were of human origin. It was with good reason as many of the people present, listening to the teaching of Jesus as He walked about the temple, were people John had baptized. If they said anything negative about John’s baptisms, it would be badly received.
As a result of their refusal to answer, Jesus then answered them saying, Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. His answer shows them to be unworthy of an answer they would not accept anyway. Then to show just how unworthy they were, Jesus begins to tell the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (chapter 12). It is a thinly veiled description of the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders – all who sought to trap Him this day and failed.
Those who came to trap Jesus were not unlike many people today who refuse to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus. They are too busy enjoying their life, their sin, while avoiding any of a holy and loving God. They have made themselves blind to how they are living and will not look at how God would want them to live. However, when trials and tribulations arrive, they will look to God and come to those they know who believe and ask for prayers. Hopefully, it will be in time for them to turn to God and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.