“And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will ask you a question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men? Answer me.’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From men’?’—they were afraid of the people, for all held that John was a real prophet. So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’” (Mk 11: 27-33)
IThe chief priests, scribes, and elders did not believe John. That much is true, and clear from the passage quoted above. But here the Lord exposes that they are concerned not with the truth of the matters they discuss publicly with Him, but with the political implications of what is said in this context, in public. So, although neither He, nor His interlocutors, give a “straight” answer to a question, in this exchange, – He does not lie, as do they. He says, I will not tell you, while they say, “We do not know.” And although this is a difficult lie, because they usually presented themselves as knowing it all in matters of religion, it is still “safer” politically, than professing their not believing John.
It’s not possible for God to reveal Himself in our public discussions about matters of faith, when we are concerned, in the midst of these discussions, with how “we” look, with respect to “our” identity-politics. So let me open up to His grace today, in some heartfelt prayer, that I may re-focus on the questions with which He challenges me, regardless of my politics. Lord, help me to give truthful answers today, like a truthful “Yes,” and truthful “No,” according to Your grace-filled Word.