As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, I’m amazed at how consistent the Lord was, even though His death was imminent. He didn’t go into hiding. He kept on ministering front and center.
Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.
Luke 19:47-48 NIV
At this point, they couldn’t have Jesus arrested because of the people. However, that didn’t stop them from trying to discredit Him.
One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”
Luke 20:1-2 NIV
This verse speaks volumes about the religious leaders of Israel. The people are drawn to the preaching and teaching of Jesus. They’re hearing the Good News of God’s kingdom. Their lives are changing.
Yet, for the leadership, that’s not the issue. It’s not about doctrine or theology. It has nothing to do with spiritual truth or growth and maturity. The main focus of this group is political power.
They knew very well that there was no school of the Pharisees or the Sadducees who certified Jesus to teach. As a matter of fact, there was no earthly group who authorized the Lord’s ministry. These leaders felt confident in the fact that Jesus could produce no proof of His authorization to teach.
The Lord’s authorization came from the Father. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit. It was that very Spirit who confirmed Christ’s message with the power to heal, deliver, and perform many mighty miracles.
The Pharisees thought they had Jesus backed into a corner. He would have to admit that He had no recognized earthly authority. They quickly learned the error of their thinking.
He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, John’s baptism — was it from heaven, or from men?”
Luke 20:3-4 NIV
Jesus immediately brings the question of authority from earthly and temporary to heavenly and eternal. John the Baptist was obviously a highly anointed prophet of God. Everyone recognized it to the point where some people asked John if he was the Messiah.
Now the tables were turned. The leadership knew that how they answered this question would expose the attitudes of their hearts.
They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”
Luke 20:5-6 NIV
Notice that there’s no discussion about truth or doctrine here. Was John teaching about the righteousness found in Scripture? Did he have a confirmed anointing from God? These questions were not a part of their thinking.
Instead, it was all politics. What will people think about us if we say, “from heaven”? How will people react if we say, “from men”?
And so, like true politicians, they take the coward’s way out.
So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”
Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Luke 20:7-8 NIV
I’m so glad that the kingdom of God is not about politics and perceptions. It rests upon the leadership and direction of the Holy Spirit based upon God’s Word. If I submit to God, then He will lift me to the position He has prepared for me. Praise God! – We have perfect freedom.
Question: How can church politics hinder the move of God?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi