Jesus said to them in reply, “I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things.” Matthew 21:24 NABRE
The temple leadership have witnessed Jesus, a popular Galilean teacher, enter their city with crowds hailing Him as king. They see Him disrupt the sacrificial worship and symbolically announce the temples destruction, implying He has authority over the temple greater than their own. They see Him as a threat and question Him publicly. They ask by what authority is He doing these things and who gave Him the authority. They want him to say He has no authority from God or claiming He comes from God which will open Him to charges of blasphemy. Jesus follows his own script saying He will answer if they tell him who gave John the Baptist his authority. These leaders don’t want to answer because they don’t want to deny John’s popularity and they don’t want to show support for John which may undermine their authority. Since they do not answer Jesus decides He will not answer their question. Jesus is often shown outthinking adversaries and missing any trap being set for Him.
The lesson for us, no one can force us to speak. If we are mindful of what is going on around us and aware of those who are trying undermine us, we too can walk away from any situation uncompromised. We never have to speak words that are detrimental to our own situation. Even in the law we have “pleading the 5th amendment” so that we do not legally implicate ourselves. We should take this lesson from Jesus and apply it to all our encounters with others. It is as if Jesus is thinking several thoughts down the road. We may sometimes think of responses in the context of a single questions and answers.
Do you sometimes feel accused by questions? Are you comfortable not answering questions?
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