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Matthew 21:23-32 New International Version (NIV) The Authority of Jesus Questioned 23 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?” 24 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. 25 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?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then He said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
“Who are you to tell me what I am supposed to do? What gives you that right?” Often that question is not a question at all but an admission that what I am doing is wrong and I don’t like being criticized. But then sometimes it is indeed a question because those asking us to do something haven’t the right to make any demands of us.
In the military stripes and collar brass or silver or gold explains immediately what authority is. If I have one strip and the other guy has two, it is obvious. If I have a gold bar on my collar and the other guy has a silver bar, it is also obvious. When I worked at Martin aerospace, it was pretty much a given that the bosses wore white shirts and ties.
But in our text Jesus has neither stripes on His sleeve nor brass on His collar. He is not dressed in the traditional garb of the Pharisees and leaders of the people. Yet His teachings come across like someone of authority. In fact it is said, “No one ever ever spoken like this with such authority.” Moreover, what He is teaching often contradicts those in authority.
Now perhaps some of these elders might be sincere, it could well be that they honestly asked a question and expected an honest answer. How- ever, several other parts of the Bible demonstrate that most of these men were not honest but hypocrites. And the way Jesus answered them shows that Jesus knew they were not being honest. In fact listen to this, namely, “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.” They were being political.
I suppose there was a time when the word “Political” was a neutral word just meaning a way of governing, but, well, today, it really means crooked and dishonest. For example, either party promises all sorts of things but rarely delivers. They say one thing and do the opposite. It used to be used cars salesmen were at the bottom of the list, now it is Politians.
Politians aren’t the only one being political. If political also includes the idea of saying what people want to hear, then in the religious circles there are also Politians. Doesn’t Joel Osteen know the Bible teaches that Christians will be persecuted and suffer? Hasn’t he ever seen any good Christians fail in the business or in their lives?
Last Sunday in adult Sunday school we covered the Charismatic and Pentecostal Movement. It is extremely hard to see that if you just casually read 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 that you will see that they are completely wrong. Yet they insist that they are right. They are appealing to people who want to hear what they offer. Likewise with the total abstinence people or the total immersionist group.
Worst of all is those who deny the Gospel in some way, shape of form. “If you want to be saved, believe in Jesus AND …. belong to our church, be baptized in this way at this time, “Tear up your playing cards and cigarette, pour out your wine and your beer, come forward and give your hand to the preacher and you heart to the Lord.” Go to church on Saturday instead of Sunday. Wear this kind of clothing in this way. The list goes on and on and on.
“So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then He said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” At this point Jesus didn’t tell them but in many places He did. Many times Jesus called God, “My Father.” His miracles proved His authority. He said, “If you don’t believe in Me for what I say, then at least believe in Me for what I do.” How many Pharisees made the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak and even raised the dead? NONE!!!
And then there we are! We know right from wrong and when caught doing the wrong, we have two choices: Confess and repent or attack the accuser. “Who gives you this authority to criticize me? By what right? Are you so perfect that you can stand in judgment of me?” Have you ever taken that route?
Then there is this: “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith , this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone shoulod boast.” And this: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved…” “Truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” Knowing this, why would we ever doubt our salvation? Why would we doubt the salvation of other Christians who believe in and love the same Lord Jesus we do? We are not saved by being perfect. They are not saved by believing everything we believe.
And why do some Christians fear death? St Paul says in last Sunday’s epistle, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain and I have a longer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” What part of the Bible do we believe in and what part of the Bible is not the truth of God’s Word???
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?”
You and I can answer for Him. “He is the Christ, the Son of the loving God” and “all authority on heaven and earth has been given to Him.” Moreover, “Heaven and earth shall come and pass away, but His words will never pass away.”
And what more can we say, except …. Amen.
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