The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 
 "All hold that John was a prophet"

Scripture: Matthew 21:23-27

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" 24 Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you a question; and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, `From heaven,' he will say to us, `Why then did you not believe him?' 26 But if we say, `From men,' we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a prophet." 27 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.
Meditation: Are you willing to take a stand for the truth, even when it costs?  Or do you look for the safe way out?  Jesus told his disciples that the truth would make them free (John 8:32).  Why were the religious leaders opposed to Jesus' and evasive with the truth?  Did they fear the praise of their friends and neighbors more than the praise of God for those who stand up to his truth?  The coming of God's kingdom or reign on the earth will inevitably produce conflict -- a conflict of allegiance to God's will or my will, God's way of love and justice or the world's way of playing fair, God's standard of absolute moral truth or truth relative to what I want to believe is good and useful for the time being. Why did the religious leaders oppose Jesus and reject his claim to divine authority?  Their view of religion did not match with God's word because their hearts were set on personal gain rather than truth and submission to God's plan and design for their lives. They openly questioned Jesus to discredit his claim to be the Messiah. If Jesus says his authority is divine they will charge him with blasphemy. If he has done this on his own authority they might well arrest him as a mad zealot before he could do more damage. Jesus, seeing through their trap, poses a question to them and makes their answer a condition for his answer. Did they accept the work of John the Baptist as divine or human? If they accepted John's work as divine, they would be compelled to accept Jesus as the Messiah. They dodged the question because they were unwilling to face the truth. They did not accept the Baptist and they would not accept Jesus as their Messiah. Do you know the joy and freedom of living according to God's truth?

"Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Let your light shine in my heart and mind that I may know your truth and will for my life and find freedom and joy in living according to it."


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(c) 2002 Don Schwager