Who Are You to Question God?
This post was originally a public note attached to my YouVersion account.
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 from men?” 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, ‘From men’–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
I love Jesus’ response to the chief priests and elders here. They are irate because He is gaining favor and attention from the people, and their status as favored teachers is fading fast. They probably feel that Jesus is walking all over their toes, and they want to put Him in His place (at least, what they perceive to be His place).
But rather than get into a competition with them over status and official backing, Jesus asks them a question that only He would think of. And it is not a question that they can answer cleanly, without declaring themselves hypocrites, nor are they willing to die for their convictions. They are left without an answer, and Jesus declares that neither will He answer their question.
This reminds me of Job’s interaction with God. Who was Job to demand answers from God. Who were these priest and elders to demand credentials of the Messiah? I watched an episode of The Office last night where one of the characters demanded of God “why are you so mean to me?” (deleted scenes). Who are we to demand proof, answers or credentials of God? It is like a statue demanding to know why the artist created it.
We do not need to know.
We need to be confident that Jesus’ life and His ministry were enough for us. Even those who lived with Him turned away, so we would not truly be helped by more proof. (Judas, anyone?)
For Jesus to declare once again that He was ministering by Yahweh’s authority probably would only have enraged the priests and elders. He knew this, so He allowed their own sinfulness and arrogance to frustrate them instead.
Sometimes I wonder if He allows my own arrogance and sinfulness to frustrate me because I am not being open and honest with Him.