This is the second of a week long reflection on Jesus' sacrifice. Join me tomorrow for more Passion Week Reflections.

After all the ruckus Jesus caused in the temple yesterday, the religious leaders of the day wanted to know what gave him the right to do what he did. (Matt 21:23-27). Then he taught in the temple and sparred with the leaders (Matt 21:28-25:46).

Jesus' response to the question of the source of his authority was to ask the leaders another question: from  where did the authority of John's baptism come? The leaders were in a conundrum. They couldn't say from heaven, because it would make them look bad. He pointed to Jesus as the Messiah and they had not listened to him. But if they said from man, they would face a potential riot because John was recognized as a prophet and respected by the masses. 

The chief priests and elders made the same mistake that many of us make when faced with Jesus. We are hesitant to admit the truth about him, that he truly is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), but we don't want to insult him by saying that he was anything less than a "good teacher". The popular argument is that Jesus was either Lord, a liar, or a plain lunatic. No one would get away with saying or doing the things Jesus did without being a complete fraud or just plain crazy... unless he was telling the truth. If he's a liar or a lunatic, why even bother calling yourself a Christian? And if liar and lunatic don't fit the bill, the Lord must be the answer. Why? Because that makes all he proclaimed the truth.

The ultimate answer of the leaders was, "We don't know". And I have to believe Jesus was a little snarky in answering them: "Well.. if you don't know, neither do I" (my paraphrase of course!). I think Jesus was making a point: you're acting like you don't know, but you do; two can play at that game! 

So where are we? Jesus is Lord and his authority comes from God (Matt 28). That's not an easy conclusion to draw, though, because it has some serious implications. If he is Lord, as he claims, then he must carry authority as a Lord. That means, we ought to do what he says. This is especially true in light of the sacrifice he made. The disciples and the chief priests and elders did not have history to reflect upon, but we do. We know the result of his death and resurrection, and there are hundreds of theologians who can describe its implications for us. 

On this day of controversy, read his final teachings to the leaders and his wondering disciples (Matt. 21:23-25:46). Who do you think Jesus is, and where does he get his authority? Do you truly believe that he is Messiah? Savior? God? And have you been acting like you believe it? Let us choose this day whom we will serve, and do it wholeheartedly. 

love, me

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