Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The events in chapter twenty-one took place during the last week of the Lord’s life on earth (John 12:1). In this period of time He willingly presented Himself to the children of Israel for a thorough examination.
We have seen that the last time the Lord Jesus came to Jerusalem He came not to work, but to present Himself to those who were to slaughter Him. In 21:23—22:46 the Lord was tested and examined. According to Exodus 12, the passover lamb had to be examined four full days. In the Jewish calendar, four days could also be considered six days, for part of a day was counted as one day. Thus, Matthew says that Christ ascended the Mount of Transfiguration after six days, but Luke says that He did so after eight days (Matt. 17:1; Luke 9:28). During the last week of His life, Christ was examined for six days. Then He was crucified on the day of the Passover. This indicates that He was the real Passover Lamb; the lamb in Exodus 12 was a type.
First the Lord was examined by the chief priests and the elders. Matthew 21:23 says, “And as He came into the temple, the chief priests and elders of the people came to Him as He was teaching and said, By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” The chief priests represented the religious power, and the elders represented the civilian power. These two powers came together to test Christ, who was standing before them as the Passover Lamb to be examined by the children of Israel. These Jewish leaders asked the Lord where He had received His authority and who had given it to Him. The Lord Jesus did not answer them directly, but with another question.
In verse 24 we see the Lord’s answer: “I also will ask you one question, which if you tell Me, I also will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?” This was a difficult question for the chief priests and elders to answer. If they had said that John’s baptism was from heaven, the Lord would have asked them why they did not believe him. But because they were afraid of the crowds, who regarded John as a prophet, they did not dare to say that it was from men.
The chief priests and elders told the Lord Jesus that they did not know whether John’s baptism was from heaven or from men (v. 27). Their answer was a lie. Children often lie by saying that they do not know. This is the best way for them to escape an accusation. The children are not taught to lie in this way; they do it naturally. Thus, the chief priests and the elders were like children who lie by saying that they do not know.
Verse 27 says, “He also said to them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.” This indicated that the Lord knew the Jewish leaders would not tell Him what they knew; hence, neither would He tell them what they asked. They lied to the Lord in saying that they did not know. But the Lord spoke the truth wisely to them, exposing their lie and avoiding their question. In this way, the Lord Jesus passed the first test, and no defect was found in Him.
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