Playing Games

John Koedyker

Read: Mark 11:27-33

As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him. (v. 27)

People like to “play games.” The chief priests, scribes, and the elders were especially good at it. They were clever, no doubt about it.

In today’s passage, they come to Jesus with a question regarding his authority: “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” It sounds like a legitimate question, but it is really intended to trap Jesus. If he says his authority is from God, they will arrest him—he had not gone through their proper channels and procedures. If he says he is acting on his own, again they will also arrest him. He has no right to set himself up as a rabbi and religious authority. Jesus is condemned either way.

So, instead of answering their question, Jesus asks his questioners a question. If they answer his, he’ll answer theirs. His question is about John the Baptist: “Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” (v. 30). Quickly the religious leaders realize they are now trapped. If they said John’s baptism was from heaven, Jesus will say, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if they say John’s baptism was from men, they fear the anger of the people because they all believed John was a prophet. So they answer, “We do not know.”

Jesus is no one to play games with. The one who is the truth desires “nothing but the truth” from us. —John Koedyker

As you pray, recognize Jesus’ authority from God, and accept his grace.