Our scripture this week is Matthew 21:21-32.
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?” 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. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 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.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 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. 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.”
In the debate with Jesus the chief priests and elders lose the argument not so much because they don’t know the right answer but because they are not honest about it, even with themselves. Their discussion shows that they wanted the politically correct answer, one that would fulfill their needs to discredit Jesus and maintain their power. However, Jesus has put them in a no-win situation, as evidenced by their answer “we don’t know”.
Telling Jesus “we don’t know” isn’t a sin when we are truly unsure. Jesus encourages us to ask questions and discuss in order to better understand God’s plan for us and what we are called to do. The chief priests and elders in this lesson weren’t seeking the truth, they only wanted to keep their hold on control.
Above all, we must be honest in our efforts to know Jesus and accept His offer of salvation. When we are working for ourselves, we fail. When we accept the forgiveness He brings and turn to Him in faith, we become the people God intends us to be.
Loving Lord, help us to seek Your truth in order to see our place in creation. May we know the joy of an eternal connection to You. Amen.