Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Follow-on Question

Perhaps you remember the challenge the religious leaders  brought to Jesus.  You can find it in Luke 20. They said to Him: “By what authority do you do what you do? Tell us.”

Unruffled, Jesus turned the tables on them and said, “I will also ask you a question:  Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?”

The elders suddenly realized their precarious predicament. If they said John’s baptism and teaching were from God, then Jesus would ask the reasonable follow-on question, “Then why didn’t you believe him?”  But if they said John’s teaching was his own, or the teaching of others, the people would stone them because they held John to be God’s prophet.

I thought of that exchange when I read this morning St. Paul’s comment in the first chapter of his letter to the Galatians: "For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ."

From time to time over the decades I’ve heard some pontificate about the great apostle, whether he got his religious philosophy from himself, or whether he was a little ‘touched’ in the head. Maybe schizophrenic. Or bipolar.

I think we ought to expect Jesus to ask all of us today the same question about Paul as He asked those in His day about John.. 

And we should be careful how we answer, because He will ask the same follow-on question.