April 4, 2023
Who Do You Think You Are, Jesus?
“When Jesus returned to the Temple and began teaching, the leading priests and elders came up to Him. They demanded, ‘By what authority are You doing all these things? Who gave You the right?’ ‘I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,’ Jesus replied. ‘Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?’ They talked it over among themselves. ‘If we say it was from heaven, He will ask us why we didn’t believe John. But if we say it was merely human, we’ll be mobbed because the people believe John was a prophet.’ So they finally replied, ‘We don’t know.’ And Jesus responded, ‘Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Matthew 21:23-27)
The day after Jesus chased away the merchants and the money changers, we find Him, once again, back at the Temple. Since arriving back in Jerusalem, He has turned over tables, healed the lame and the blind, accepted praise from children, and has upset the financial system around the Temple. After all of that, He comes back once again and begins teaching outside of the Temple. Not surprisingly, the religious leaders have an issue with Jesus because He is on their turf. The Temple is under the authority of the chief priests and the elders. You can imagine they were probably thinking, “Just who do You think You are, Jesus?”
We have the advantage of hindsight and understand that Jesus has the authority to teach in the Temple because He has been sent to earth by the Father for the purpose of bringing people back to God. Jesus carries the very authority of God. However, we must also remember that even though this is passion week, His time had not quite come. Jesus understood that if He spoke too boldly about who He was, why He came, and what authority He actually had, that the end would come right away. He’s working toward that end, but He isn’t quite there yet. So, instead of answering the question about His authority, He tells them He will answer their question if they answer His. He asks, “Did John’s baptism come from Heaven, or was it of human origin?” Jesus knew that the Israelites viewed John the Baptist as a true prophet sent from God. Jesus knew if the leaders said that John’s ministry was from humankind that the people wouldn’t accept them anymore. However, if they said that John’s ministry was from Heaven then that would validate Jesus’ ministry because it was John the Baptist who said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
You know the story. To keep from answering, the religious leaders said they didn’t know the answer to Jesus’ question so Jesus stated that He wouldn’t answer their question either. That really shows us the wisdom of Jesus. The religious leaders were trying to undermine His authority, but He exposed them. They were trying to make Him look foolish, but they are the ones who end up looking foolish.
The irony in this situation is that Jesus had more authority than anyone in the Temple. We can say this because we know that Jesus has all of the authority. The religious leaders couldn’t see that because they were not willing to submit to Jesus. They didn’t recognize the power of His ministry. They didn’t see His fulfillment of prophecy. They didn’t and wouldn’t submit to His sovereign reign. The lack of submission to Jesus by the religious leaders led to their improper worship, their lack of praise of Jesus, and their fruitless religion.
If we are going to thrive as true followers of the Lord, we must always submit to the authority of Jesus. We must love as He taught us to love. We must forgive as He taught us to forgive. We must be salt and light as Jesus taught us to be salt and light. We must have compassion, we must be generous, we must endure persecution. We must do all of the things He taught us to do. In each and every thing, we must always submit to His authority.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Think about the Lord’s authority in your life. Is there anything you are holding back from Him? Is there any way you are not submitting yourself to Him? In your journal or on a piece of paper, write out a prayer to Him, asking Him to forgive You and then take time to resubmit your allegiance to Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life. If you’re leading your family through this devotion time, lead them to do the same exercise as written above..
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, help us to always remember that You have all authority. I submit myself to You today. In the name of Jesus, Amen.