The Gospel reading this morning was from Mark, chapter 11 verses 27 through 33. These passages always cause me to pause. Apparently Jesus has thrown the money changers out of the Temple; the Temple authorities want to know “by what authority do you do these things?”. The Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t arrest Jesus for doing this, which is surprising to me. These authorities must have been disturbed – at least some of them – by the constant noise, bleating of animals and the general market mentality that pervaded the Temple, although there is some question as to whether any of them profited from the sales. Some of these leading men knew that this was God’s house, that it should be a house of prayer, a place of quiet and reverence.
Jesus had been telling them, over and over, who He was, where He came from. Not only by His words but His actions had to be obvious to anyone who was really looking. So Jesus won’t tell them by what authority He threw the money changers from the temple unless they answer a question for Him. Imagine that! These authorities are always asking Jesus questions, but now “He turns the tables on them” just as He did the money changers.
“Was John’s baptism of heavenly or human origin?” Instead of answering Jesus, they discuss the question, trying to figure out which answer will put them in less trouble. How like a politician, who is more interested in his personal power and retaining it, than in speaking the truth. These were religious men who had studied the Law, whose lives were centered around the Temple. They knew the truth, but wouldn’t or couldn’t speak it!
Am I like this at times? Do I avoid answering truthfully when I think it might be more advantageous to not answer at all or to lie? Maybe, for me, that is the point of this passage. Rather than judge what others have done to look at myself, question myself as to my behavior and then to guard my behavior, to answer truthfully at all times.
May the Holy Name of Jesus be praised!