25 Mar. Mark 11:27-33

25 Mar. The chief priests question Jesus's authority

"As Jesus was walking in the Temple, the leading priests, the teachers of the [Jewish] law and the elders [of the Jewish community] came to him. They said to him, 'What authority do you have to do these things? Who gave you this authority?'"

"Jesus answered, 'I will ask you one question [first]. If you answer me, I will tell you what authority I have to do these things [like forgiving sins and raising the dead to life]. Tell me, when [my cousin] John baptised people [to cleanse them from their sins], was that authority from God or just from other people?'"

"They argued about Jesus's question, saying, "If we answer, 'John's baptism was from God', Jesus will say, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'It was from other people, the crowd will be against us.' (These leaders were afraid of the people, because all the people believed that John was a prophet) [sent by God to announce the coming of the Jewish 'Messiah' or 'Christ' - the 'anointed one']."

"So they answered Jesus, 'We don't know.' Jesus said to them, 'Then I won't tell you what authority I have to do these things [like forgiving sins and promising eternal life in the kingdom of God]."

          (Mark 11:27-33)

 

 

This passage isn't well known because it shows us a typical Jewish rabbinical debate and, to be quite honest, most Christians don't understand what it's all about! But Jesus's Jewish followers would have known exactly what the implications of this conversation were!

It was now Tuesday - just two days before Jesus was arrested on a trumped-up charge of blasphemy. Jesus was teaching, like other Jewish rabbis (teachers) beneath Solomon’s Porch in the Temple courtyards in Jerusalem (you can see the exact location on yesterday's map).

The chief priests and rabbis were demanding to know by whose authority Jesus was teaching. They already knew that Jesus claimed to be God (see where Jesus claims to be 'I AM' ( i.e. 'Jahweh' / 'Jehovah' / 'God') in the New Testament e.g. John 8:27-28 & 57-58) but they wanted to trap Jesus into giving direct evidence of 'blasphemy' (claiming God's authority to forgive sins) that would stand up in the Jewish courts.

Jesus replied with a counter-question. (This was a typical form of rabbinical debate, where two Jewish rabbis asked each other questions and counter-questions to explore the meaning of the Jewish (Old Testament) Scriptures.)

But Jesus refused to say anything that would give the Jewish leaders the opportunity to arrest him. It was still three days before the start of Passover, when the Passover lambs would be sacrificed to save Jewish people from the consequences of God's justice. So it wasn't yet the 'right time' (the 'Kairos' moment) to arrest and condemn Jesus - who was 'the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world' according to John the Baptist (see John 1:29 & 7:28-30).

Jesus knew that acknowledging John's message was crucial to the Jewish leaders' understanding of Jesus's own mission (see Matthew 11:1-10). So he asked the Jewish leaders if they believed John's message was from God (Mark 11:30). John had clearly said that he was announcing the coming of the Jewish 'Messiah (or 'Christ') (see John 1:23-29). Jesus had already confirmed that John was 'the promised Elijah' who would come before the Messiah 'to prepare the way of the Lord' (i.e. the coming of God to earth) (see Matthew 11:14).

As the Jewish Passover approached at the end of the week, the purpose and consequences of Jesus's mission (e.g. the abolition of the Temple sacrificial system) were becoming much clearer to the Jewish leaders. So what would they do?

The photo shows colonnaded porticoes on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem today - similar to those in the Temple of Jesus's day.

You can read more about the building and the layout of this Temple in 30AD @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/jesus-heralds-the-end-of-…


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