Matthew 21:23-27: 23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
Some questions cannot be answered with a simple answer. The leaders of the Jews wanted to know who gave Jesus the authority to do miracles. Jesus knew that they were not asking the question in faith, but only in unbelief, so that they might have more evidence for his trial later. So Jesus asks them a similar question in return. Who gave John the authority to baptize? Did it come from God, or did he invent it by himself? They refused to answer the question because they knew the people believed John was a prophet. If they acknowledged John’s authority from heaven, then Jesus could have said, “Then believe what John said about me.” So they refused to answer his question, and he refused to answer their question.
Sometimes you will get into uncomfortable discussions and debates with people who want to undermine your Christian faith. They are not seeking to learn the truth. They want to undermine your faith in what you believe. You can usually sense when that is the case, and you don’t have to answer every question that has been put to you. Stop and take a breath. Ask Jesus to give you the appropriate response to the question you’ve been asked. Then put a smile on your face and give a simple testimony to the truth. You can say something like this. “The bottom line is this. Is Jesus the Son of God or not? I choose to believe that he is because the Bible has led me to believe this. He fulfilled every prophecy ever made about him. The fact that he rose from the dead after he died for my sins is well documented. If we cannot agree on that, I would prefer not to debate the details. But if you want to know more about Jesus, I’m glad to teach you more.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me the wisdom to give a reason for the hope that I have in you. At the same time, teach me to avoid debates and controversies that only end in futile arguments. Most of all, let your light shine in my words and actions so that people may see the hope I have in you. Amen.