S (Scripture): Luke 20:1 Now one day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the gospel, the chief priests and the experts in the law with the elders came up 2 and said to him, “Tell us: By what authority are you doing these things? Or who it is who gave you this authority?” 3 He answered them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: 4 John’s baptism – was it from heaven or from people?” 5 So they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From people,’ all the people will stone us, because they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they replied that they did not know where it came from. 8 Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by whose authority I do these things.”
O (Observation): Jesus was gaining believers in the Temple, and the chief priests and experts in the law and the elders would NOT stand for this. This was the last straw. So once again, they try to paint Jesus into a corner. Jesus sees past the trap.
Jesus knows that if he claims his authority is from heaven, he could be giving grounds for being dismissed or be brought up on charges. So, instead, he turns the tables and asks these religious leaders if they think John’s baptism is from human or heavenly authority. Many believed in John’s baptism as that from heaven, even though he was not of the rabbinic order. Jesus and John have ministries that are from heaven, and people have begun to believe that God is working through them.
The religious leaders are threatened by Jesus and are ready to pounce…but Jesus shifts the certainty of the leaders into a question they cannot answer.
A (Application): When we take action in this world, we have to discern from what source the action stems. Is this about me? Or about the Kingdom? Sometimes it’s both. This happens when our calling and our joy align. Sometimes it’s one or the other. This happens when we act completely selfishly or we end up doing a good deed, though we don’t think it immediately benefits our spirit.
God has a way of helping us to see into the motivation of our actions. We struggle daily with how to respond: from our sinful center or from the Spirit that dwells within us. Honestly, it’s a bit of both. Yet our hope is that God who dwells in us, in our baptism, transforms our actions and redeems the worst of our actions. Sometimes God does this through our call to repent; sometimes God helps others to interpret our actions in the best light possible; sometimes God redeems what we’ve done through no action of our own.
From heaven, God impacts us today by redeeming what we’ve done or what we’ve left undone. We pray for forgiveness of our wrongdoing and courage for the days to come…to make the heavenly choices on earth.
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to see that our actions are incomplete without your heavenly touch. Amen.