The chief priests and the elders of the people came up to Him (Jesus) as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?" Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you one question ... The Baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?" And they discussed it among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'From man,' we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And He said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things." (Matthew 21:23b-24a, 25-27)
The next day, Jesus returned to the temple—to face angry questions. "Who gave you the authority to clear the temple?" He was asked. Being no fool, He answered a question with a question: "Who gave John the authority to baptize?"
The leaders go away and discuss it. They consider one answer, and reject it because it would let Jesus point out their inconsistency. They consider another answer, and reject it for fear of riots. Finally, they give up—and Jesus also refuses to answer them.
So far, so typical. Jesus wins that exchange. But did you notice the really sad—and funny—thing about the way the leaders were reasoning? They never bothered to ask what was true. The only thing they were interested in was political expediency—what answer was going to help them manipulate people the best.
We see this in our world today, too, don't we? Sometimes it's reports of local or government corruption. Sometimes it's much closer to us, as people we work with or live with make decisions based on something other than truth. And if you protest, you get this answer: "Honesty is all fine and good when it comes to religion, but we're dealing with real life here."
So is Jesus. There is nothing more real—more true—more desperately important—than the life Jesus died to win for us. Jesus came to free us from the power of this sinful world and to make us children of God. This so-called wisdom is not for us. Let us follow Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and leave the dishonest schemes of this world behind.
THE PRAYER: Lord, set my heart to follow You. Amen.
* What examples have you seen of people choosing expediency over truth?
* Has anyone ever accused you of being naïve because you were honest?
* How do you deal with it when you have to choose between the world's way and God's way?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"