Questions Day 20 (3/4/13)
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23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.”
27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
Tension was in the air the day Jesus entered the temple.Certain religious officials were plotting against him.They viewed him as a threat.Jesus' teachings ran counter to their tradition.They had to do something to silence him.They decided to try to attempt to trap him with a two-part question above (vs. 23-27).Jesus reply was another question (vs. 24-25).The chief priests and elders quickly find that they have become the ones trapped by a question.
Jesus follows this interaction with the chief priests and elders with a parable (Matthew 21:28-32), but within that parable is a teaching that answers the primary question of this text.
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
The work of the people of God had been reduced to ritual practices.The leaders and people had lost touch with their purpose.Jesus points to the transformation occurring in people's lives, real changes that lead them into the kingdom of God.Jesus also points to the message of John the Baptist, which was "preaching a baptism of repentance of the forgiveness of sins." (Mark 1:4)
We don't like being confronted with a message of repentance.And we really don't like it when a mirror of our own sinfulness is held up before us.The liturgy of worship is meant to strip away the mask of who we want others to think we are and reveal to God an admittance of who we really are.
The danger of traditional worship in a traditional church is that it becomes so predictable that we lose the intimacy of worship.We all need to be confronted by Christ in the Temple today - in the Sanctuary during worship.If we think nothing in us needs to be challenged then there is no need to be at church!Too often we want to be "immunized with the Gospel" so we don't really catch it!
Do you ever find yourself complaining about the life changing, transformative work of Christ in your midst OR do you celebrate it?