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Gospel of Matthew 21: 23-27 (NIV)
23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”
24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism-where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?”
They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven’, he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men’ – we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
How clearly do you recognise by what authority Jesus did what he did, taught what he taught and claimed what he claimed? Are you convinced that this authority has been invested in him by the Father? Do you reject alternative views, for example that Jesus claimed an identity not his own or that what he taught was a product of his own imagination?
The chief priests and the elders of the people may have perceived that Jesus was totally convinced about the veracity of his message. They would not accept, however, that this authority was from YHWH. Had not they inherited that authority passed down to them from Moses?
Jesus knew their hypocrisy. He exposed it by referring to the baptism of John. John had rebuked them fiercely (Matthew 3: 7-12)!
7 But when (John) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptising, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The axe has been laid to the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor, gathering the wheat into his barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Not only did John condemn them for not accepting his teaching, he also anticipated the advent of the One more powerful than he was, the very person whose authority they now questioned! But the chief priests and elders of the people seemed to be more afraid of the people (verse 26) than they were of YHWH.
God the Father raised the crucified One on the third day. In so doing, God the Father vindicated God the Son and bore witness to the truthfulness of all that Jesus claimed about himself including about the source of his authority on earth.
Matthew has recorded Jesus words (28: 18): “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Have you accepted that authority over your own life. If not yet, what more will it take to convince you?