Sunday, August 13, 2023

From Heaven Or From Men?

By Joe Slater
    Jesus respected the question of authority. On the morning after He drove the merchants and money changers out of the temple, the Sanhedrin demanded to know, “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?” (Luke 20:2). They viewed the temple as their own domain, and they certainly hadn’t given Jesus permission to teach there, much less to regulate what occurred on temple grounds. After all, He had not graduated from rabbinical school, so they viewed Him as a presumptuous intruder.
    Jesus didn’t deny the need for authority, but neither did He accept their demand for human approval. In an absolutely brilliant maneuver, Jesus changed the focus to divine authority and the Sanhedrin’s total lack of fitness to judge His credentials. He asked a simple multiple-choice question: “The baptism of John – was it from heaven or from men?” (Luke 20:4).
    The Sanhedrin certainly hadn’t approved John’s work. He had rebuked some of them, calling them a generation of vipers! (Matthew 3:7). The people, however, correctly counted John to be a prophet (thus having authority from God in heaven). Since the Sanhedrin feared the people, they refused to state their true convictions that John’s authority was from men, that is, he was acting on his own. Instead, they claimed not to know, thereby confessing themselves unfit to judge Jesus’ source of authority.
    We should follow Jesus’ example of asking not for human authority, but for divine authority. Every teaching and practice should be put to the test: “Is this from heaven or from men?” Let us teach and do what God authorizes in His word while rejecting all that lacks divine sanction!

- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

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