Authenticity or Safety?
A shrewd game of cat and mouse that Jesus is playing with the Pharisees. When they attempt to trap Jesus with their manipulative questions, Jesus strikes back with a puzzle of his own. The Pharisees are trapped by their own game. If they acknowledge John's authority as from heaven, they admit rejecting a prophet of God. If they denounce John's authority, they risk losing the favor of the people that believe in John. They choose a safe way out, "We don't know."
I wonder what was the truth. What did the Pharisees truly believe? They knew either answer would be politically charged. But what did they believe in their hearts? Or perhaps they were so wrapped up in the politics, they didn't even know themselves what they believed. It makes me wonder how often I have denied my own heart's truth in order to save my skin. When has my own desire to slink out of a slippery situation caused me to lose touch with my core values and beliefs?
Narrative Lectionary Text: Luke 19:45 - 20:8
Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.
One day, as he was teaching the people in the temple and telling the good news, the chief priests and the scribes came with the elders and said to him, “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?” He answered them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” They discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”