The Authority of Jesus

Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. (John 2:18-21)

Do you not find it interesting that in our verses for today, the creatures demand proof of the Creator’s authority? The Jews were always looking for a miraculous sign. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians:

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
-Matthew 13:14

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
(1 Corinthians 1:20-25)

Christ answers their demand by telling them of a sign that was to come–a prophecy of His own death and resurrection. Partially in mercy, using figurative language to those who would refuse to believe so that the clearer words would not be held against them, He shows His pristine knowledge of His sufferings and resurrection. Indeed, this was a charge that the unbelieving Jews brought forth in Jesus’ conviction:

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'” (Matthew 26:59-61)

“The saddest condition a man can be in is to sit under the most living ordinances with a dead, stupid, untouched heart.”
-Matthew Henry

I am reminded of Jesus’ parting words in Matthew given in the Great Commission: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)

Take It to Heart

Paul tells us that while our vision and understanding remain clouded, one day we will see clearly as our partial knowledge will be displaced by a completed sight and understanding. This will occur when our now becomes then:

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12)

Sadly, the brilliance of man sometimes causes him to miss the mark in regard to fully appreciating and apprehending the wisdom and plan of God because he chooses to lean on his own understanding. God’s thoughts and plans, being far superior to human thoughts and ways, are those that even the most brilliant of minds cannot conceive. God’s compassion, love and mercy far exceed our fleshly ability to comprehend. The narrow way is found only through self-effacing faith not through self-confident erudition. The prophet Isaiah tells us:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, “declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)