Today's Devotions

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Showcase: Martyn Lloyd-Jones

  • Ignorant of the Truth: A sermon by Martyn Lloyd-Jones +

    "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto Read More
  • I Am A Debtor: A sermon by Martyn Lloyd-Jones +

    Paul was a man who could stand without any fear and without any apology in Athens on Mars' Hill. There Read More
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Don  Carson

http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Gen.+41

http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Mark+11

http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=JOb+7

http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Romans+11

THE EXCHANGE BETWEEN Jesus and some of his opponents, reported in Mark 11:27-33, is one of the strangest in the four Gospels.

Jesus ducks their crucial question by asking one of his own, one that they cannot answer for political reasons. Why doesn't Jesus respond in a straightforward manner? Doesn't this sound a little like brinkmanship, or, worse, a petty jockeying for power and one-upmanship?

At one level, the question of the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders was entirely legitimate. By what authority does Jesus clear the temple courts, accept the accolades of countless thousands as he is ushered into Jerusalem on a donkey, and preach with robust confidence? His is not the authority of the rabbinic schools, nor of those who hold high ecclesiastical and political office. So what kind of authority is it?

How might Jesus have responded? If he said he was simply doing these things on his own, he would sound presumptuous and arrogant. He could not name an adequate earthly authority. If he insisted that everything he said and did were the words and deeds of God, they could have had him up on a blasphemy charge. It is not obvious what true answer he might have given them that would have simultaneously satisfied them and preserved his own safety.

So Jesus tells them, in effect, that he will answer their question if they will answer one of his: "John's baptism – was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!" (11:30).

His interlocutors weigh their possible answers on the basis of political expediency. If they say, "From heaven," they reflect, he will condemn them for not becoming disciples of John. Worse, they cannot fail to see that this is also a setup for the answer to their question. For after all, John the Baptist pointed to Jesus. If they acknowledge that John's ministry is anchored in heaven, and John pointed to Jesus, then Jesus has answered their question; his ministry, too, must have heaven's sanction behind it. But if they say, "From men," they will lose face with the people who cherished John. So they say nothing, and forfeit their right to hear an answer from Jesus (11:31).

A pair of pastoral implications flow from this exchange. The first is that some people cannot penetrate to Jesus' true identity and ministry, even when they ask questions that seem to be penetrating, because in reality their minds are made up, and all they are really looking for is ammunition to destroy him. The second is that sometimes a wise answer is an indirect one that avoids traps while exposing the two-faced perversity of the interlocutor. While Christians should normally be forthright, we should never be naive.

Reflections to Consider

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Publications

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Music

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Audio & Video

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Favorites

  • He Washed It White As Snow: Jesus Paid It All +

    Kristian Stanfill performing. I hear the Savior say Thy strength indeed is small Child of weakness watch and pray Find Read More
  • The Doctrine of Satan and Demons: Wayne Grudem (outline) +

    The following is an outline from Wayne Grudem for chapter 20 of his book, Systematic Theology, dealing with Satan and Read More
  • The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis (complete) +

    THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS by C. S. LEWIS Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford TO J. R. R. TOLKIEN "The best way Read More
  • The Screwtape Letters: Outline +

    Chapter Outline Preface: Introducing the conceit that the letters were "found" and are "true", although Lewis takes care to point Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • Postmodern Holiness by Dallas Willard +

    What does it mean to be holy? Read More
  • Reflections on John 14 by Dallas Willard +

    Lecture entitled "Reflections on John 14"delivered at Azusa Pacific University, Read More
  • Francis Chan: Sermon on Holiness +

    Francis Chan discusses the importance of holiness, the need to follow the word of God to have our prayers heard.  Read More
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