We Cannot Tell

Matthew 21: 24-27. ” And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell Me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven: He will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men: we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus and said, We cannot tell.  And He said unto them, Neither tell I you by what auhtority I do these things.”

It was not yet time for Jesus to declare Himself to the religious rulers. There were still some things to be done before He went to the cross.  So, rather than answer their question, He posed one for them. He said if they answered His question, then He would answer theirs. With His question, He not only silenced them but He also answered the question. John the Baptist had borne witness of Him. John himself, the forerunner of the Messiah, was believed by the people to have been a real Old Testament prophet.

So here was a conundrum indeed.  If the religious leaders answered, “From heaven,” they would have endorsed John’s statement concerning Who Jesus was, and thereby condemned themselves for their unbelief and hatred of Jesus. Yet, to say John’s baptism was of men would deny his status as a prophet, and the people would have risen up against them. So they came up with a timeworn response to  question they had no desire to answer.

“We don’t know.”

And Jesus’ response was quick and final: “Then I will not answer your question, either.”  Always, Jesus had the final word. He was, after all, the King, the Christ, the Son of God. He did not need to answer their questions.


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