Today in the meeting, we went through the second half of Matthew chapter 21 (for those of you who don't know, we go verse by verse- that's why we're still in Matthew). Ok. So, We started at verse 23 and went to the end of the chapter.
Topic? The authority of Jesus questioned. I know, maybe not the most interesting topic but it is, I promise! Read on:
Jesus had just gone and overturned tables at the temple, causing a pretty big scene. He was crashing stuff around, healing people, children were shouting out his praises, and of course... the chief priests and elders came to question him. I'm sure I would if someone started turning over tables at my church.They asked him, "By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?"
Here is where it gets interesting. Instead of answering them directly, Jesus poses a question back to them. He puts the ball back in their court by bringing up John the Baptist, and asks them where his (John's) baptismal authority came from. ...huh? The chief priests and elders debated how to answer, and realized that they couldn't answer without exposing their true murderous intentions so they lied to Him. "We don't know," they said. So then JC was like fine, then I won't tell you the answer.
So why is this so interesting? Why did Jesus bring up John the Baptist? It has to do with who Jesus was (and is) and why he overturned the temple tables in the first place.
First of all, this whole business of buying an animal to sacrifice once you got to the temple- instead of bringing your carefully selected animal- was a problem. The way it was supposed to work was that a man would carefully check over his sheep or goat or ox or whatever and carefully groom it practically from birth. You were supposed to raise it, and bond with it, and feed it, and love it; things that made it all the more painful and personal to see it killed as a sacrifice to God. Simply buying one at the temple was kind of like cheating, in a sense. Ok, so there is reason number 1. But reason number 2 is a whole lot BIGGER !
What is reason number two?
Glad you asked. Let's go back to John for a sec. What was his message? Why in the world did Jesus bring up John the Baptist?! Because, John's message was this (in a deep, rugged, locust- eating manly voice): "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!!!!!" AHHH! (Yes. I'm sure there was some yelling involved.)
The main and most IMPORTANT point Jesus was making was that He, in fact, was the Perfect Lamb of God- rendering the rest of the temple sacrifices unnecessary.
I mean, He essentially was saying to those guys, "Look. The Lamb of God, The Savior, just walked in through your city gates, and you are completely missing the boat here! Drowning, in fact!" Yeah. So there you have it, why Jesus brought up John.
Cool, huh? He was our Sacrifice, our King coming to valiantly liberate us by being the only acceptable sacrifice for our sins on the cross. He even entered the city like a King... but that's a whole 'nother note. :)