Today on Pray the Word we have come to Tuesday of Holy Week where we remember Matthew 21:23–27.
“And when he”, Jesus, “entered the temple the chief priests and the elders and the people came up to him as he was teaching and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus answered them, ‘I also will ask you one question. If you tell me the answer then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come, from heaven or from man?’ They discussed it among themselves saying, ‘If we say from heaven he will say to us then why did you not believe him, but if we say from man we’re afraid of the crowd for they all hold that John was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ He said to them, ‘Neither will it tell you by what authority I do these things.'”
– Matthew 21:23–27
Jesus knows everything about us, yet He loves us and calls us His own.
Just picture, if you had seen Jesus walk into the temple and start driving out those who were buying and selling there, then you would probably wonder, “Who does this guy think he is? By what authority is he doing these things?” These questions posed by the chief priests and elders makes sense. As Jesus’ follow-up question reveals, this was not some innocent inquiry. The Jewish leaders had been threatened for a long time by Jesus’ ministry, and rightly so. He had been pointing out their sin, their hypocrisy. His signs and wonders were evidence that his power was far greater than theirs. In contrast to their many times false teaching, he was teaching the truth of God with authority. These Jewish leaders knew their power, their popularity were being undermined by him.
Jesus Trapped the Jewish Leaders
Not for the first time Jesus answered their question with a question. My kids hate it when I do that. You realize why Jesus is doing this. He’s asking them whether the baptism of John was from God or from men. That question forces their hand because they’d opposed John the Baptist, so they couldn’t admit that he was sent from God. Yet they knew that the people revered John as a prophet, so to claim that John’s baptism was a manmade practice would’ve hurt their reputation that way. Would they openly claim to oppose God’s messenger, or would they risk losing the crowd’s favor?
Jewish leaders had come to trap Jesus, now they found themselves in a trap. Jesus displayed not just the wisdom of one who knows a lot of religious information, but the wisdom and knowledge of the one who is uniquely able to penetrate the hearts of men. He exposes our motives, the deepest desires of our hearts. We think about the way Hebrews 4 talks about God’s word. It’s living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword. It pierces the soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It discerns the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. This is who Jesus is. He looks through outward appearances.
Matthew 21:23–27 Shows Us the Wisdom of Jesus
He knew the intentions of these Jewish leaders. And he was refusing to play their game. They failed to see that they were standing not in judgment of him. He was standing in judgment of them. On this Tuesday of Holy Week, we marvel at the wisdom of Jesus. Nothing is hidden from him, including our secret thoughts. We, as we pray and realize we’re not and never are hiding anything from God. He knows everything about us. That’s the beauty, right? He knows everything about us and yet he loves us.
God Knows Everything
We pray, and as we pray I just encourage us to be honest before God. God, there is nothing in our lives that you do not know. You know our every thought better than even we know them. Further still, you know every thought we’ve had, that we will have today. You know our every desire and you know every word we say. You know what we’re doing when we think we’re alone. We’re not alone. You know it all. Oh, God, I just think about my own life.
If people listening right now, if people around me knew every single thought I had, it would be a terrifying thing to think that all kinds of people know every single thought I’ve had. I praise you. We praise you that though you know all these things about us, though you pierce down to the depth of who we are that you love us, that Jesus coming and exposing the hearts of men was actually a picture of your love.
Thanking Jesus for His Sacrifice
Jesus, thank you. Yes, we celebrate this week especially. Thank you for dying on the cross for our sins, for our every sinful thought, for every sinful deed, for every sinful desire, word. God, thank you for loving us enough to forgive us of our sins through Jesus’ death on the cross.
Matthew 21:23–27: Living Honestly Before God
God, we pray that you help us to live with honesty before you, that you would continually expose the areas of our minds and our hearts that need to be conformed more and more into the image of Jesus. We want to honor you. We want to glorify you with our every thought, our every word, our every desire, every action. Help us by your grace toward us, please help us to do that in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.