Dale Carnegie’s 1936 book How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies, giving people advice on how to be liked. The key, says Carnegie, is to avoid arguments and not criticize. Although many people found his advice helpful, Jesus’ interactions came from a different playbook!
Jesus entered Jerusalem to the shouts of Hosanna (Matt. 21:1–11). This public praise combined with Jesus’ accusation that the money changers had turned the temple into a “den of thieves” outraged the chief priests and teachers of the law (v. 15). The temple court was used as a marketplace where pilgrims could purchase sacrificial animals and pay the temple tax. Money changers had set up tables for exchanging foreign currency, often embossed with pagan images. In a bold move, Jesus drove out those who were selling animals and overturned the money-changers tables (v. 12).
The chief priests and elders confronted Jesus: “By what authority are you doing these things?” (v. 23). They had already decided that Jesus was acting without divine authority. Their question was designed to trap Him. Jesus evaded their trap while supplying the answer to their question. “John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” (v. 25). Knowing what was in their hearts, Jesus had turned the tables on them. Recognizing John’s authority as from God would have amounted to an acknowledgment that Jesus had authority also. But a denial of John’s authority would anger the crowd.
The concerns of these religious leaders were more political than spiritual. They did not really want to know the answer to either question. They were more interested in preserving their own power.
>> Are you open to God’s answers? Sometimes we bring our requests before God, with a preconceived answer already in mind. Don’t accuse God of ignoring your questions if you have been avoiding His answers.
During your quiet time, a good question to ask yourself is: Do I hear God’s voice? Am I listening to His answers to my questions? May we never be like the Pharisees in today’s passage who were interested in their political goals, not in Jesus’ answers.