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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

To the End of the Road, Part 5

Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” Matthew 21:23, NKJV (But you might want to read the rest of the story, Matthew 21:23-27.)

(continued from yesterday)

Judas snorted. "All Jesus does is insult and antagonize the authorities. They're not taking kindly to His attitude. It wouldn't surprise me if they sentenced Him to the cross."

Simon the Zealot glared at the other disciple. "You and I both know the Sanhedrin has no authority to sentence anyone to death. In addition, the Sanhedrin hates the Romans. No chance of that collaboration happening."

"You might be surprised what they would do given the right circumstances. But then, maybe Jesus is doing this deliberately. He could be about to declare His kingdom."

Simon picked up some pebbles from under the oak tree where the two sat and began tossing them across the road. "If he'd been going to do that, wouldn't it have been after that triumphant parade from Bethphage to Jerusalem and before he took a whip to the merchants in the temple?"

Judas shook his head. "Truly, that would have been the best time to do it. Everyone in Jerusalem would have rallied to His side. He could have commanded an army. But after that scene in the temple?" He gave his head another shake. "Not the best timing."

Just then, Jesus walked up to them. "I'm going back to the temple." He said to the two and to the others who had followed Him.

Thomas grasped Jesus's arm. "Master, it might be well to avoid the temple for a time. Couldn't you speak to the people here in Bethany instead?"

"No. I take My orders from My Father. It's important this day to speak at the temple."

Peter sighed. "Then we will also go." He patted his sword. "We'll be ready to defend You."

"My Father is my defender, Peter. I have no need of your sword."

When they reached the temple, Jesus led the way through the Golden Gate to Solomon's Porch and sat down on the steps. When a crowd had gathered, He began to teach them about the holy scriptures.

"I knew it," Philip murmured. "No matter where He goes, the scribes and priests show up."

"Truly," the Zealot agreed. "Even the Chief Priest's here this time. I agree with Peter. They make my sword hand itch."

The Chief Priest held up an imperious hand and addressed Jesus with a loud voice. "By what authority do You teach these things? And who gave You that authority?"

Jesus smirked. "I'll ask you one thing, and if you can answer it I'll answer your question. The baptism of John--where was it from? From heaven or from men?"

Matthew tipped an ear toward the muttering priests.

"If we say, 'from heaven,' he will ask why we didn't believe him."

"Yes--but if we say 'from men,' I'm afraid these people will turn against us."

The Chief Priest stomped away. One of the others spoke up. "We don't know."

Jesus nodded. "Then neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."

Matthew chuckled, and the remaining priests glared at him and then trotted after their master.

(continued tomorrow)

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