The devotions from this blog for the next two weeks will focus on the sharp exchanges between Jesus and the religious leaders in the Temple (at least that's where Mark describes their happening in Mark 11:27- 12:44).
27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 "By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you authority to do this?"
29 Jesus replied, "I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John's baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!" 31 They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' 32 But if we say, 'Of human origin' . . . ." (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) 33 So they answered Jesus, "We don't know." Jesus said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."
(Jesus teaching in the temple)
Thoughts: 11:18 says that Jesus' enemies "feared him because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching." 11:32 says they feared the people and were afraid to speak against John. They were afraid of losing their power and their earthly position. They were blind to see that God was behind Jesus' power and also behind John the Baptist's ministry. This fear and ignorance worked together. In contrast to this is the boldness of John and Jesus who were concerned about pleasing God, not human beings. The fear of God is not ignorant superstition. But fear of people can lead to blindness and hiding our heads in the sand from the obvious presence and power of God.
Prayer: Lord, give me grace to fear you above all others. Give me the power to be bold for you.
John Calvin abridged: Here the enemies of Christ do not question his teaching (which they had done many times before), but his calling and commission. The evidence from the miracles was that Christ was the messiah. But they insisted that because he did not have their votes he was not authentic. Christ brings John into this to show they were not worthy of their authority and that they had questioned a holy prophet of God. Since John had pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God, it was impossible to ascribe him authority without ascribing authority to Christ. Jesus elevated John above all other prophets (Lk. 7). The Pharisees did not care about truth, but abour maintaining their own tyranny. So all the wicked, though they like to be perceived as pursuing truth, shut the gate of truth when it opposes their wicked desires.