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“By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” (Mark 11:28 NIV).

Avoid traps by asking the right question. Jesus would have been considered a sage.   A sage is a wise or holy figure, often an older man, who possesses insight or understanding beyond that of ordinary people.  When His authority was questioned, he answered as a sage would do, with a counter question:

“Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!” (Mark 11:29-30 NIV).

The religious leaders didn’t have an answer to Jesus’ question.  Therefore, Jesus didn’t answer theirs:  

So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things” (Mark 11:33 NIV).  

The truth is, the religious leaders already knew where Jesus’ authority came from, they just didn’t want to admit it.  They realized that if they acknowledge John’s power came from God, they would have to acknowledge Jesus’ authority as well.  When Jesus’ authority was questioned, He responded with a counter question. Avoid traps by asking the right question.

Avoid traps by asking the right question.

The saying, “When you point a finger at someone else, there are three pointing back at you,” has possible origins from the Navajo Indians.  The Navajos considered it serious business to accuse someone. When you point a finger at someone, you’re ignoring your own faults. The Navajos believe you must  look at your own faults before you look at the faults of others. Jesus says the same thing with different words:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5 NIV).

The religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus because He was threatening their authority.  Jesus exposed their hypocrisy. We are all hypocrites, whether we admit it or not. Jesus exposes the hypocrisy within ourselves with His truth.  We battle Jesus’ authority in our lives, just like the religious leaders did. We want our own way, instead of His. When we give Him authority over our lives, He’ll provide the right question to ask when we are being trapped.

Question of the Day:

Whose authority are you submitting to today, Jesus or yours?

Further Reading: Numbers 2:1-3:51NIV, Mark 11:27-12:17 NIV, Psalm 47:1-9 NIV, Proverbs 10:24-25 NIV

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