Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!” 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’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” Mark 11, verses 29-33.
Jesus isn’t being evasive here. If you think so, re-read the verses a few times. I believe you’ll see that he’s actually trying to offer yet another life-line.
Consider that Jesus knows the score when He has this exchange with the chief priests. He knows they’re trying to set Him up. He knows they’re plotting to murder Him. He knows what’s going to happen at the end of the week, on Good Friday. Yet, even at this late date, instead of smashing the priests into little bits of priestly mush, He offers them yet another chance to submit to His love and justice. Jesus asks them a question instead of pointing out their wrong-doing. He poses an issue to them, hoping to stir their hearts and minds one more time.
Has He ever done that to you? I can’t tell you how many times in every day that it happens to me, whether it’s my petty judgmentalisms, or my arrogance and pride, or the lust in my eyes, or the anger that is all too often my go-to reaction. When those times come, I deserve to be smacked down by the Almighty, to have Him put me in my place. That’s what a human god would do; that’s what Allah would do; that’s what people do to each other.
Instead, Jesus speaks through my conscience, through the moments in the day, and poses to me yet again the questions I need to be asked. I know it is the voice of God because it doesn’t lead me into further sins, or into tough times without there being a light at the end of them. The life-lines He throws to us are designed to pull us back, to tug us out of the quicksand instead of letting us choose to sink further. It’s usually quiet, unassuming, speaking words in my conscience, trying to keep me on the straight and narrow. Do I listen? No, not always; thanks be to God for His patience with me.
And consider this, too: Jesus knows the score with you and me right now. Those sins you and I want to deny we ever did? Jesus knows about them. The junk we hold onto that we know we shouldn’t? Jesus knows about it. The hopes and dreams that haven’t come to pass? He knows them. Despite all of our crap, Jesus comes to us anyway and asks us that same question: do you believe in Me? Believing in Him isn’t carte blanche for misbehavior: it’s carte blanche entry into eternity when we don’t deserve it. He offered that same free pass to the chief priests yet they passed it by. We should not do the same.
Lord, help me to always listen to Your words, to follow where You guide me. Thank You for throwing life-lines to me, your grace being the gift I don’t deserve but am so very thankful for.
Read Mark 12, verses 1-12