Question: “Who Gave You The Right…?”

Here are some more “stupid questions”

If you mated a bull dog and a shitsu, would it be called a bulls***?

Why is Grape Nuts cereal called that, when it contains neither grapes, nor nuts?

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?

Why is it called a “drive through” if you have to stop?

Why does mineral water that has “trickled through mountains for centuries” go out of date next year?

I told you about how I started collecting these kinds of questions in a prior post.

In Luke 20, there is a long line of folks who line up with these kinds of questions – and Jesus turns the tables on them.

That doesn’t mean that Jesus rejects honest questions.  We’ll talk about that in the final post of this series.  First, let’s look at the attempts to trip and trap Jesus.

First up, the Pharisees.

The Pharisees were the religious leaders, defenders of the faith, rulers of the church.  Their task was to make sure that everyone was living the right way, worshiping right way, praying the right way, believing the right way…you get the idea.

On many occasions, Jesus had overturned their applecart.  The tension had been building between he and they for a good long while.  In Luke 20, it comes to a head.

In Luke 20:2, the Pharisees ask Jesus the question:

“Who gave you the right…?”

…the authority?

…the power?

“…to say the thing you are saying and do the things you are doing?”

Well, you’ve got to give them credit.  They didn’t beat around the bush.  They just jumped right out there and tossed that question in his face.

It was an attempt to get Jesus in trouble.

If Jesus said, “My Father in heaven gave me this right!”  Well, they could have started building a religious case against Jesus, under the charge of blasphemy.  After all, Jesus was acting outside of the only “acceptable” (in their minds) avenue of authority, that being the Synagogue.

Conversely, if Jesus had said he had no outside authority (no Divine right to speak what he was saying, then they might well have turned to the crowd and said, “There you go!  He’s just another crazy zealot!”  Then they could have discredited him and been on their merry way.

Jesus turns the table on them.  He asks them a question. agreeing to answer theirs if they answers his.

Jesus asked: “Who gave John the right to baptize?”

Now the Pharisees opposed the Baptizer at most every turn.  So, if they had said “GOD” – they knew how Jesus would respond in this verbal chess match.

“God gave him the authority to baptize, you say!  Really?  Okay, then, ‘Why didn’t they listen to him?'”

On the other hand, if they replied with any answer other than ‘God gave him the right!’ – the people would have rebelled.

They refuse to answer Jesus, so he refused to answer them.

The question of religious authority is a big time issue today.  People question the role of tradition, denominational confessions, potential modes of scriptural inspiration, how to interpret scripture, etc.  Congregations and denominations split over these kinds of questions.

In a culture where religious tradition seems to be losing its foothold in society, these types of questions become even more prevalent.

When the question is raised from a place of intellectual honesty – in an attempt to find out what is core truth and what is mere window dressings – the question has great value.

“Who gives the right to say what we say and do what we do?”

That begs the question:  “Are we really saying what needs to be said and doing what needs to be done?”

The Pharisees motivation, at this point, should bring some soul-searching and discernment into our own lives.  That the Pharisees asked the question is, in and of itself, not a bad thing.  Everyone should learn to ask honest tough questions.  Even, I submit, of Jesus.

The problem with the Pharisees is that their motivation was self-serving.  They wanted to protect their power base.  They wanted to maintain their place of honor, respect, and authority among the people.  They were not seeking God.  They were not seeking to discover if Jesus was from God.  They were not seeking God’s Reign and righteousness.  As such, they were engaged in a game of asking: “Stupid Questions!”

What about us?

Are we seeking to learn, grow, discern, and discover?

Or are we aiming to trip, trap, and maintain our will, ways, wants, and whims?

Jesus knows the answer to those questions, by the way.

In the next post, we will look at the “scribes and lawyers” who tried to trip up Jesus before the people dealing with the issue of TAXES.  That ought to be fun!


Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, The: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church
by: David Johnson
publisher: Bethany House Publishers, published: 2005-10-01
ASIN: 0764201379
EAN: 9780764201370
sales rank: 69907
price: $9.00 (new), $8.42 (used)

In a breakthrough book first published in 1991, the authors address the dynamics in churches that can ensnare people in legalism, guilt, and begrudging service, keeping them from the grace and joy of God’s kingdom.Written for both those who feel abused and those who may be causing it, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse shows how people get hooked into abusive systems, the impact of controlling leadership on a congregation, and how the abused believer can find rest and recovery.

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