Here’s another trustworthy saying: “When you start a war, whether military or verbal, never underestimate your opponent.”
Yep, that one is me too.
The time has come for the first assault wave to attack Jesus. He is teaching the crowds about the good news, when He is approached by the chief priests and teachers of the law. These are the best and the brightest of the Jewish leadership; this is strength against strength, a full frontal attack. They demand to know by whose authority He is doing the things He’s doing; namely clearing the Temple and ruining their cash flow…
Jesus’ reply is less than 20 words in two short sentences. He will answer their question, if they answer His, which is, “John’s baptism was it from heaven or of human origin?”
A simple theological question for such giants of scholarship and piety…
Luke tells us of their dilemma:
They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” (20:5-6)
They held an impromptu caucus. They knew right off they were in trouble… and everyone was watching! They came up with a solution… They replied that they didn’t know.
It’s very important for us to think carefully about this: This was to be a clash of power against power. The Jewish leaders, who were the highest authorities in the Jewish world on such matters, were in the process of challenging the authority of a carpenter’s son from the provinces who had never been educated, and in 19 words, He had them in a corner.
Whose authority is in question now?
Jesus declined to address their question since they had ducked His question.
Again I ask: Whose authority is in question now?
The best and the brightest are on the ropes, and Jesus is about to deliver the knockout with a nice little story…