The religious leaders confronted Jesus over what He did and taught. They thought that they were wiser than the carpenter from Nazareth. The Lord humiliated these proud men with one question.
“And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders” (Mark 11:27).
Why is it that those in ecclesiastical positions object to Biblical truth, the miracles of Christ and His Lordship? The answer is found in the fact that they are spiritually blind despite their learning. The religious leaders who confronted Jesus were considered the fountain of spiritual knowledge. Instead of accepting their Messiah they made themselves His bitter enemies.
The church of Christ must be careful not to depend too much on preachers, pastors and others in leadership. These men are flesh and blood and are able to err in doctrine and practice. Everything that is taught in the church must be tested by the Scriptures. Acts 17:11 tells us that the believers in Berea “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The rule should always be that we follow those who follow the Word of God and Christ, and no further, “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me” (1 Corinthians 4:16). There is only one Priest and Bishop of our souls who never makes any mistake; He is Jesus Christ “the chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4). We must learn to “call no man father on earth” (Matthew 23:9).
“And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?” (Mark 11:28).
The religious leaders could not deny that Jesus had performed wonderful miracles. They could not find anything wrong with either His life or teaching. All they could do was try to belittle Him by asking to see His earthly authorisation for ministry.
Ordination to God’s work does not come from a Bible school or any man, instead it is given by God Himself. “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another” (Psalm 75:6-7) … “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Hebrews 5:4), and this was the case with priestly office of Christ, “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee” (Hebrews 5:5). There are many in positions of authority today who have no right to be there. There can be the inward call of the Holy Spirit without the outward call of man, just as there can be the outward call of man without the inward call of the Holy Spirit.
This does not mean that the church ought to be void of leadership, order and discipline. An army without leadership and discipline is useless when it comes to defending the nation. No matter how well dressed and drilled a soldier may be, he is a liability if he cannot face the enemy. If those in leadership can be trusted then it is our responsibility to keep them in prayer, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (Hebrews 13:7). If they can be trusted, then follow their guidance, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me. And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things” (Mark 11:29-33).
Though the religious leaders had no love for John, they were too afraid to speak ill of him. If they had done so they would have lost the esteem of the people. They knew that they could not say that John was a true man of God otherwise Jesus would ask why they did not follow his teachings. To save face they told a lie.
So many church leaders today claim to be ministers of God’s word, yet they will not teach exactly what it says, and neither will they live their lives in accordance with the same. Once a person gives up his earthly wisdom, pride and deceit, he will come out of spiritual darkness into the light, and he will understand and declare Christ as his Saviour. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).
Many souls are eternally ruined because they reject Christ as Saviour. Others are damned because, while they know Christ is the only way of salvation, they make excuses why they cannot follow Him. Some claim that they are unable to grasp what the Bible says. In reality they love their sin too much to be saved. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).