Checking God’s Credentials

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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?”

Matthew 21:23

I forget where I read about it, but I recall a calling card or business card that struck me as audacious, if such a thing can be. I think it may have been historical fiction of England 200 years ago, but the card was simply a white piece of paper with the person’s name embossed on it. No contact info, no titles, no qualifications. Just a bit of fancy paper to tell you: This is who I am. Perhaps not very useful, but a statement nonetheless.

In the Jewish theological circles of Jesus’ day, the name of the Rabbi that taught you was your calling card. Time spent learning of a Rabbi’s teachings and learning to copy his lifestyle lent credence to the disciple’s teaching when he decided to strike out on his own. A teacher without such credentials was met with skepticism; even if their teaching had the ring of orthodoxy, it was still suspect. The Greek term for such a teacher has stuck with us in English with the word “Idiot”.

So the Jewish teachers are trying to find out if Jesus is an idiot. They were not the last. It may seem a irreverent inquiry but remember that they didn’t have a New Testament to read. And the truth is people are still questioning God’s credentials, Christians often foremost among them.

Now I realize the devout would agree with the Psalmist’s sentiment that “the fool says in their heart, ‘There is no God.'” But that same book of Psalms records a lot of wrestling with God. “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” A person may believe God exists and yet be unsure of the righteousness of His plan, particularly for one’s life. We get into tight spots and feel like God has vaporized, just when we need Him most. Or we experience a loss that surprises us, perhaps a loss of something or someone we never asked for it, yet God seems content to give and then take away.

We lament the Pharisees for their brass, trying to call Jesus on the carpet, but at least they said it out loud. Many “good Christians” harbor similar sentiments but feel they cannot voice them. But if we cannot be honest with God, with whom can we be? The chief priests are skeptical of Jesus’ deity so they ask a question. Jesus responds by giving them reason to be skeptical of their skepticism.

So take Jesus your doubts and questions. He’s tough; He can handle it.

Lord, I want to honest with you. Show me the honest truth; even about myself.

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