Monday, March 29, 2010


One of the first things I look for in a new doctor, trainer, nutritionist, etc, is credentials. Where did he (or she) study and in what field and with what degree? Then I look at what they tell me and see whether it matches up with their practices. (I want my trainer to be MORE fit than I am!) If I am going to take someone's advice, I want to be assured they have some expertise in the issue.

Jesus' credentials were always under scrutiny by the religious leaders. He changed the game, broke the rules, and told the people that HE was the way, truth, and life. Those who made a living enforcing a code that they created over time were afraid of this new teaching. Of course, had they looked at their own scriptures, they would have seen that what they preached was a far cry from the simplicity of the Law. They were more interested in eliminating this threat to their influence than they were in Truth.

All three of of synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) tell of the day after Palm Sunday when Jesus was teaching in the Temple courts. None say exactly what he was teaching, but apparently He was on message because the priests, lawyers, and elders surrounded him and asked where his authority to say these things came from. They didn't enquire about the content of the message---but the source of Jesus' right to speak it.

Jesus knew that they really didn't care about his credentials; they wanted an excuse to get rid of Him. So, in typical fashion (so Socratic in His methods), he asked them a question: "I will ask you one questions. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism--was it from heaven or from men?" (Mark 11:29)

Well, that was a conundrum. John the Baptist was adored by the people, and everyone knew that Herod had beheaded him without cause and without due process. So, the religious leaders had a problem. If they said that John's baptism was from heaven, they gave him credibility--and they had already tried to discredit him. However, if they said his teaching was man-made, they figured the people would revolt and probably stone them all. So, as do most politicians, they took the easy way out and said they didn't know.

Jesus then informed them that, since they didn't understand John's baptism and his authority, He wouldn't try to explain His own. With no answer, the leaders were rendered helpless in their quest to eliminate (or at least discredit) Jesus and His message. They went away--embarassed, angry, and more determined to find a way to get rid of Jesus once and for all.

The people, however, listened as Jesus continued to teach.

The question comes, when I worry about the minutiae of my life--how well I eat on a given day, how far I run, whether I'll meet my next goal--how much of what I do is "on message" and how much time do I spend trying to work out my own will the way the religious leaders did?

The message of the Gospel is clear: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31). There's no work I can do, no form I must fit, and no expectation I must meet. The "pharisees" of today may try to convince me that I must look a certain way or do certain things, but they are just as wrong as the religious leaders of old and their intent is the same: whatever it takes to eliminate Jesus.

I want to stay "on message" for Jesus---and whatever I do, let it be to His glory.

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