Jesus and his disciples returned once more to Jerusalem.
As he was walking in the temple area,
the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders
approached him and said to him,
“By what authority are you doing these things?
Or who gave you this authority to do them?”
Jesus said to them, “I shall ask you one question.
Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me.”
They discussed this among themselves and said,
“If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say,
‘Then why did you not believe him?’
But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”–
they feared the crowd,
for they all thought John really was a prophet.
So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”
Then Jesus said to them,
“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.” Mark 11:27-33
Jesus was a traveler. He moved all over the place during his ministry. In the verses prior to this one, he had just kicked all the merchants and others out of the temple area. He was very adamant about keeping His Father’s house clean and free from all of that. I would have been upset too, if my Church had been turned into what probably looked like a modern day flea market.
So, then they decided to question Jesus for teaching, praying, and doing the things that he was doing. I can understand their worry in this, the concepts that Jesus was teaching threatened everything and challenged most of the set “rules” in that time period. Jesus wasn’t teaching some concepts that were anything new at all. His message of loving one another and making space for God was not anything new, he was challenging all the man made rules that went along with it. He really was seen as a threat to their status and way of life then.
You can see in this passage that they were scared of giving Jesus the “wrong” answer. I have pondered this question myself all morning, and I keep coming back to the same answer, John the Baptist was, just as all of us are, of Heavenly origin. That was totally against the common theme at the time of how God was presented. He was depicted as this ominous overlord, when in all reality, He is a very loving and supporting God, for those who seek out His will and support. I think, in this moment, the people that were trying to test Jesus actually had to think about all the possibilities, and the fact that Jesus might be correct in the ways He was teaching. They would have had to let their pride go in order to answer the question with what was probably, at that moment, weighing on their hearts. Jesus knew that they were not answering from their heart, but from the world, which is why he did not give them a response.
How often do we find ourselves in the same predicaments. Whether it be at work, home, schools, out with friends, you name it, we find ourselves not listening to the calling within our hearts. We know for a fact we should not be going out and getting drunk all night long, but we live for that temporary fix sometimes. We know that we shouldn’t be saying one thing about how we love God, then going and doing something that would bring us shame. Yes, sometimes, we are like the chief priests in this passage, we just don’t know. If only in that moment, just before Jesus started to move on into another message, if they would have just said, please teach me what the answer should be. Stopping and letting down that pride, asking for help, something that we should all do before going down the roads we are taking on our adventures.