Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Questioning Jesus’ Authority
“And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?” (Mark 11:27-28)
Jesus had thrown all the vendors of religious items out of the temple. When he came back, the religious leaders demanded who gave him the authority to kick them out, totally ignoring what the law said about bringing things that were unclean into the temple. Under the law, only those who had been sanctified were to come into the temple. Ezekiel 22:27 says, “Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.” Leviticus 10:10-11 specifically commanded, “And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.” Though they were angry at Jesus, they were the ones doing the wrong, while claiming to do what God commanded.
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell.” (Mark 11:29-33a)
Instead of answering their questions, Jesus asked them where they thought John got his authority to teach as he did. They knew that John had proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah, and that he had accused them of violating God’s command. If they said his power came from God, they would be clearly indicting themselves for not believing what he said. If they said his authority did not come from God, they would lose all credibility with the people, who had seen John’s miracles. They refused to answer, claiming there was not enough information.
And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things. And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.
Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.
But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?” (Mark 11:33b-12:1i)
When they refused to answer with so much evidence, it was obvious the leaders were not willing to consider any claim he made. Jesus refused to waste time trying to explain to them. Instead, he told a story about a man who prepared a farm and leased it out for a share in the profits. When it came time to collect the rent, the renters refused to pay, even beating up those who tried to collect. Finally they had his son murdered, believing he would just give up and let them have the property.
Instead of discouraging the father, Jesus said the murder of his son would harden his resolve and he would not stop until the murderers were punished. He then made it clear the story was about God and his chosen one being rejected by the world. God will put him as the ruler over everything, despite the world’s efforts to prevent it.
“And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.” (Mark 12:12)
The rulers clearly understood the warning Jesus was giving, that they would be punished if they killed God’s son. Instead of listening, they got angrier. Matthew, Luke and John indicate that this parable and the following teaching actually took place on Monday rather than on Tuesday, and Mark 14 supports that.