WAS IT A STUPID QUESTION?

James Tissot – The Pharisees Question Jesus (Les pharisiens questionnent Jésus) – Brooklyn Museum (Authority of Jesus questioned – Wikipedia)

Most of us have been told there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Apparently Jesus did not agree. There was at least one question Jesus refused to answer. When? Here is the passage from the Bible.

Matthew 21:23-27 New American Standard Bible

Authority Challenged

23 When He entered the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” 24 But Jesus responded and said to them, “I will also ask you one [a]question, which, if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John was from what source: from heaven or from men?” And they began considering the implications among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the [b]people; for they all regard John as a prophet.” 27 And answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.” He also said to them, “Neither am I telling you by what authority I do these things.

The passage above describes an incident that occurred very late in Jesus’ ministry. By this point Jesus had performed innumerable miracles, entered Jerusalem triumphantly on a donkey, and cleansed the temple of money changers and merchants. If the chief priests and the elders of the people were willing to believe their eyes and ears, they already knew the answer to their question.

So, what were the chief priests and the elders of the people doing? Were they questioning Jesus’ authority? Yes.

Why did the chief priests and the elders of the people challenge the authority of Jesus? Undoubtedly, the chief priests and the elders of the people were unhappy about the cleansing of the temple. Don’t we all love money? What must have stung just as much, however, was the the lost of prestige. Jesus had thrown them out of “their” temple.

To make their motives clear, Jesus asked the chief priests and elders of the people a question. Look at how the chief priests and the elders of the people wrestled with it. The chief priests and the elders of the people feared to take a position on the ministry of John the Baptist. Why? They did not see any personal advantage.

Note: King Herod had had John murdered. So, affirming the ministry of John would also put the chief priests and the elders of the people in conflict with King Herod. 

Since the chief priests and the elders of the people were not seeking the truth and did not uphold the truth, Jesus did not answer their question. Instead, He pointed to their refusal to answer His question, which is where He wanted the focus.

What did the chief priests and the elders of the people do in response? In they hatred they hired a traitor to betray Jesus. Then they stirred up a prideful and hateful mob so they could silence and crucify Jesus. And they killed Him for no good reason.

In their pride, the chief priests and the elders of the people wanted to stop Jesus from speaking the truth and exposing their hypocrisy. They hated Jesus because he had exposed their hypocrisy. That is the sort of evil we do when we hate the truth about ourselves. That is the sort of evil we do when we refuse to repent and turn to God for His mercy and grace.

Beware chief priests and elders of the people who do not love the truth. Beware of leaders who do not love the truth more than their own lives. Beware of joining a prideful and hateful mob. When the mob comes after you, be prepared to suffer for speaking the truth in love.

John 12:25-26 New American Standard Bible

25 The one who loves his [a]life loses it, and the one who hates his [b]life in this world will keep it [c]to eternal life. 26 If anyone [d]serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone [e]serves Me, the Father will honor him.

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2 Responses to WAS IT A STUPID QUESTION?

  1. jeffw5382 says:

    Thank you, Tom, this was at the top of my inbox and a delightful way to start my day

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