The King is Challenged

Jesus has returned to the temple to teach, but this time the religious leaders are prepared. They've rehearsed their lines, practiced their questions, and feel ready to challenge Jesus. They're ready to shut him down, prove him wrong, and shut him up.

In Mark 11:27-28, Jesus takes two steps into the temple and is immediately rushed by the religious leaders. Imagine a big time lawyer and client walking out of a courtroom, immediately met by microphones and questions, that's how Jesus finds himself in this scene. The scribes and pharisees get in Jesus' face and ask, “by what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you authority to them?” (Mark 11:28). They’re asking Jesus, “Who do you think you are?! We've studied, we've memorized the Bible, we've learned all there is to learn! You have no right to come in here and do this!” They’re ready to stump Jesus. They've prepared for any sort of answer, except one.

Jesus listens, and agrees to answer if they answer his question first. He asks, “Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” Mark 11:30. Jesus asks, “Is John the Baptist’s ministry from God or man?” You see, John had just baptized Jesus and publicly acknowledged that Jesus is God. That’s important to know because the people loved John, and saw him as a prophet. Prophets were a big deal, and were considered prophets if they had a ministry, a mission, sent directly from God. If the pharisees agree that John’s ministry was from God, then Jesus is correct. If they say that John’s ministry is from man, then they’re denying that he’s a prophet. There’s no correct answer for them to give! They either lose to Jesus, or have the huge crowds get angry with them for rejecting God’s prophet. Boom, Jesus got ‘em!

Then, Jesus shares the parable of the wedding tenants (Mark 12:1-12), aimed directly at the scribes and pharisees. Jesus exposes their hypocrisy, their false religion, and the crowd is now looking at them with doubt. Like little kids that don’t get their way, the religious leaders get mad and grind their teeth. Their breathing gets heavy, and their hearts fill with rage. They continue to dig in and question Jesus about God, theology, and doctrine, but he answers everything perfectly. The crowd is amazed, and the hate inside the leaders’ hearts grows.

Jesus didn't come to play games with the scribes and pharisees. He didn't come to validate their beliefs, and he wasn’t going to let them continue to teach their misunderstanding of scripture. The pharisees have been insulted, rebuked, corrected, and put on notice that their time is up. It’s just day three of Holy Week, and Jesus has arrived and flipped the city of Jerusalem and its leaders upside down. The story continues, and the plot to get rid of Jesus begins.

No Comments