Daily Update #181

Pause for reflection
What does today hold out for you today? In all the busyness of our daily lives, the extra burdens of the pandemic and the preparations and planning for Christmas. Let us pause and allow God to speak to us.

Readings: Num 24:2-7 15-17          Ps 25:3-8                        Matt 21:23-27

Today’s gospel reading is the account of when the chief priests and elders questioned Jesus’ authority.
23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. ‘By what authority are you doing these things?’ they asked. ‘And who gave you this authority?’
24 Jesus replied, ‘I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism – where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?’
They discussed it among themselves and said, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will ask, “Then why didn’t you believe him?” 26 But if we say, “Of human origin”– we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’
27 So they answered Jesus, ‘We don’t know.’
Then he said, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

On Friday David Poulter encouraged us with the promise that any time spent reading and studying will prove beneficial; and I was greatly blessed when mediating on just these five verses from today’s reading, which spoke volumes.
At first glance, the discussion of the priests and elders, resulted in a choice of two options, did John’s authority come from God or Man? But careful analysis suggests that there were actually four options, which suggests to me a wider application to Jesus’ authority and not just John the Baptist’s.
Option 1 – “From Heaven” – If we believe, and I hope and pray we do, that Jesus is the Son of God – then that should make a profound difference to our lives.
Option 2 – “Just a man” – then that would be the option which replaces God with ourselves as the centre of our lives and the universe.
Option 3 – “We don’t know” – the Jews were prepared to give the appearance of ignorance. If you haven’t made your mind up for the first two options, then go on and study the scriptures further and come to a conclusion! Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39 (KJV)
Option 4 – The Jews actually opted for this. They had formed an opinion, but chose not to reveal their position, as it would have had penalties. This certainly challenges us to reflect on how we might betray the truth, to avoid the consequences, when under pressure to give an account of the hope that is within us. (1 Pet 3:15)
Today, is God challenging you to decide on the question?
“‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’” Matthew 16:15

Dear Lord,
Help us to open our ears and hearts to the challenges you place before us. Give us the strength, through your Holy Spirit to choose wisely and help those around us in Southbourne and beyond to hear and be blessed with your salvation today… as tomorrow may be too late!