(Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8)
Suggested further reading: John 1:19-28
The enemies of truth are ever ready to question the authority of
all who do more good than themselves. The chief priests have not
a word to say about our Lord's teaching or against his life or
conduct. The point on which they fasten is his commission.
The same charge has often been made against the servants
of God when they have striven to check the progress of
ecclesiastical corruption. It is the old weapon by which the children of this
world have often laboured to stop the progress of revivals and
reformation. It is the weapon that was often brandished in the face of
Reformers, Methodists and Puritans in their day. Too many care nothing for
the manifest blessing of God on a man's work if he is not sent forth
by their own sect or party. It matters nothing to them that some
humble labourer in God's harvest can point to numerous conversions
of souls through his instrumentality. They consider his success
nothing: they demand his commission. What he does is not important. It
is his authority to do it that matters!
With consummate wisdom our Lord replied to the question.
This answer of our Lord was no evasion. His counter question was
an answer to their enquiry. He knew that they dare not deny that
John the Baptist was a man sent from God. He knew that, this
being granted, he only needed to remind them of John's testimony to
himself. Our Lord's question was a home thrust to their consciences.
If they once conceded the divine authority of John's mission, they
must also concede the divine authority of his own. Let us pray for
like wisdom in the defence that we give of the truth.
In the parable of the sons the Lord holds out immense
encouragement to those who repent. One son, like the profligate tax
collectors, for some time flatly refused obedience, but afterwards
repented and went. The other, like the formal Pharisees, pretended
willingness to go, but in reality went not. It was the son like the tax
collector who obeyed. It is not our initial profession and response
that matters, but whether we actually repent and obey.
For meditation: `Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord,"
will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of
my Father who is in heaven' (Matt. 7:21).