RCN Advent Reflection #15

Advent Reflection #15
Matthew 21:23-27

In our passage today, Jesus enters the temple and immediately is scrutinized by all the temple folks about his authority. “By what authority to you do these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus was upsetting the order of things that the religious elite had worked so hard to establish and they weren’t happy about this. In typical fashion, Jesus responds to their question with a question. He asks them about John the Baptist’s authority – was it from heaven or earth. We’re told they balk at an answer, knowing that if they attribute his authority to heaven, they will look bad for not believing in him, whereas if they say it was earthly authority, then the crowds around them will be angered due to their acceptance of him. Not knowing the smartest answer, they give Jesus no answer. Jesus says that he will not, then, give them an answer either.

It’s understandable that they would question his authority. This passage, though, shows that they weren’t really interested in his answer. They had already decided that he was not who he claimed to be (they thought the same of John the Baptist). Jesus presented a headache for them, an interruption in the status quo. Jesus was a problem. They had been praying and hoping for change for so long, you see, that they failed to see the change before their eyes. In reality, they had given up hope for something different. It’s one thing to pray for change. It’s another thing altogether to accept and embrace it.

Finally, their refusal to give an answer at all betrays how little faith they had. They weren’t really interested in John the Baptist at all, or Jesus for that matter. Instead, they simply wanted to maintain the status quo, to preserve their positions, and to make the people happy. This is very poor leadership at best.

Lord Jesus, may we risk our positions, our status, our power on believing in you, and may we accept the change that we pray for when it arrives.

Come Lord Jesus.

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