This Holy Week, we are journeying together through the encounters of Jesus. Today we get to look at how Jesus interacts with the religious leaders of his day, particularly their questions about his authority.
I love the questions my kids ask me. I have spent the last year driving my older girls to a homeschool group near the office at INCM. We spend 3 hours in the car together, twice a week. Often, I give them an opportunity to ask me anything. I am fascinated by their questions because they reveal something about my children – maybe a struggle they are having internally or something they are interested in knowing more about. In Luke 20, Jesus is part of a little Q and A session with the teachers of the law. Here’s what led up to it.
Jesus has entered the city of Jerusalem to the shouts of “Hosanna,” which are a cry both for salvation and to declare salvation is come. And Jesus response to the city is multi-faceted. He weeps over the city (Luke 19:41-44) and he responds viscerally to the outrage in the temple (Luke 19:45-48).
All of this response urges the spiritual leaders and teachers of the law to question Jesus authority. They confront Jesus and ask, “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” (Luke 20:2).
Q and A time.
What stands out about Jesus response here is how he answers the questions of the teachers of the law with a question. Have you noticed how often Jesus does this?
He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?”
What Jesus is getting at is the hypocrisy of the leaders who are asking the question. If John was from God, then he was right in proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah – and if this is true, then Jesus had all authority.
And this is the place where I get completely convicted. The question the teachers of the law ask Jesus comes from a place of frustration with the way Jesus has changed the way things have always been. Jesus came into the city to shouts of praise identifying him as the Messiah. He sets things right inside the temple. His actions are nearly unimaginable in the eyes of the teachers of the law. Their question about his authority can be summed up as, “Who do you think you are and what do you think you are doing?”
And every time I have read this passage I walk away from the text thinking I would never ask this type of question to Jesus. If Jesus were standing in front of me, I would never question his authority. How foolish were these teachers of the law?
Yet, how often do I become frustrated when my plans are disrupted? How often do I ask God, “Why?” when my expectations are not met? If I’m honest, how often do I hope God leaves me alone to do my thing?
How often do I say, “Wait a minute God, I have a good thing going! Please don’t rearrange anything around here. Please don’t rearrange my priorities, my schedule, my ministry environments. I know what I’m doing and I’ve been doing it for a long time. I’m good.”
Complacency breeds in unchecked tradition. The teachers of law started with a good thing, upholding God’s Word. But over time, complacency set in. Friends, we need the authority of God to disrupt any area of complacency in our lives and our ministries. There’s a word for this: submission. We fail to submit to God’s authority because if often takes us outside our comfort zone. We struggle to submit to God’s authority because we’re content with our own. So my prayer for you this Holy Week is a prayer of submission, to the authority and plans of God over your own. May he radically disrupt you and root out any vestige of complacency or pride for the praise of his glory.