The Invitation - Day 16

Luke 20:2-8

2 “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”

3 He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, 4 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or from men?”

5 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”

7 So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”

8 Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

I have much to learn from the example of Jesus. Twenty-nine times in the Gospels, He responds to questions with a corresponding question. How frustrating this must have been. The opening question asked by a Pharisee, lawyer, priest, or Sadducee was generally designed to trap Him in an impossible situation.

You’ve probably been asked some form of the joking question, “Have you stopped beating your wife. Of course, there is no safe answer. Jesus often side-stepped the intended trap (or, as the Gospel writers often put it, “test”) by asking a question rather than giving an answer. 

This strategy craftily served Jesus’ intentions. He didn’t allow others to draw Him into hurtful, unnecessary, or politically distracting conversations. However, He was never the one to break off conversation and connection. He stayed present even while seeing evil motives. He was also able to challenge assumptions and the disagreeable reality His opponents were promoting while using their words. Finally, responding with questions allowed Jesus to insinuate essential truths subtly while avoiding the snares set for Him.

So much to learn from Jesus.

One particularly genius element of Jesus’ strategy was His occasional decision to avoid any response. I find this nearly impossible. I always have something to say, an opinion you need to hear. In our passage for today, Jesus has reversed a trap meant to destroy Him. But He shuts it down in victory and doesn’t press His advantage. And if you look for it, He does this repeatedly throughout the storytelling of the Gospels.

Jesus’ priorities include defending the defenseless, standing up for the character of God, and bringing salvation to the lost. But He has very little time for winning arguments with the hardhearted or matching religious wits for the sake of dogma.
A stark difference exists between honest inquiry and a dialogue calculated to cut, destroy, or make one look good. Jesus leans towards connection with the true character and Spirit of God while leaning away from argumentations of religiosity. This is where I wish to grow.
  1. How has Jesus reversed the trap by asking whether John’s baptism was from Heaven or from Men (Luke 20:3-4)?
  2. Is it easy for you to want to argue about spiritual things? Why do you think this is so?

By Pastor Dave Ferguson

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