So they answered Him, "We do not know." And Jesus replied, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."
I. THE ULTIMATE QUESTION BETWEEN CHRIST AND THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS AND INSTITUTIONS OF MEN IS ONE OF AUTHORITY. Only direct Divine sanction, or a higher truth vindicating itself at the bar of reason and conscience, or in the field of experience, can justify the attitude of Christ and his religion towards the religions and superstitions of men. Arbitrary assumption will soon belay itself, and the spiritual nature of man must be satisfied. This question of authority is sure to be raised sooner or later by the upholders of the systems and beliefs Christianity impugns. And Christians are counselled to "give a reason of the hope that is in" them.
II. TO ALL GENUINE INQUIRERS CHRISTIANITY PRESENTS A SUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE,
1. The life and works of Christ are his justification. They prove him "sent from God." The evidence upon which our belief in these is based is as strong, at least, as for any other historic matter.
2. The experience of the operation of Christian doctrine and practice in the ages subsequent to the Cross.
3. The immediate witness of the conscience and the heart. With the first and the third of these the temple authorities were already conversant.
III. HYPOCRITICAL AND ILLEGITIMATE INQUIRIES INTO ThE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST OR HIS SERVANTS MAY BE RESISTED AND EXPOSED.
1. Christ knew the motives of his inquisitors.
2. He placed them in a false position in order to expose these to themselves and others.
3. All Divine revelations have similar evidence, and stand or fall together. Had they believed John, they would have believed Jesus. As they believed neither, it must have been because they hated the truth. It was for the interests of true religion that this fact should be made evident. He proceeded to prove the traditional unrighteousness of the Jewish people and their leaders in a series of "parables" or similitudes, which were at the same time so many appeals to conscience. (It would be well for the preacher to remark upon the unbroken consecution of ch. 11 and 12 in the spoken discourse of Christ.) - M.
Say ye that the Lord hath need of him.I. HE WANTS YOU FOR HIMSELF. Jesus loves you; you are to be the compensation to Him for all He suffered. Christ feels incomplete without you.
II. HE WANTS YOU FOR HIS CHURCH. The Church is a building; you can never tell what stone the Great Master Builder may require next. It is a family — you complete the circle.
III. HE WANTS YOU FOR HIS WORK.
IV. HE WANTS YOU FOR HIS GLORY. When the Lord wants anything you will let Him have it.
1. Your money. If He takes it you will know that He had need of it.
2. Death. He has need of those dear to us. There is great comfort in the fact that when Christ sent to appropriate what was indeed His own, He sent also the constraining power of His own grace to overrule that it might consent to the surrender.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
I. THE PRINCIPLE WE HAVE STATED APPLIES TO ALL NEW UNDERTAKINGS IN WHICH WE ENGAGE AS SERVANTS OF OUR SAVIOUR, ACTING UNDER HIS DIRECTION. It was a new thing He asked them to do when He sent them to bring to Him the colt. Our Lord often asks us to do unlikely and unexpected things. God told Moses to go to Egypt. God asked Jonah to do a new thing. If God asks us to take a new departure, His hand will guide us.
II. THE PRINCIPLE ILLUSTRATED HERE APPLIES TO UNDERTAKINGS WHICH ARE DIFFICULT AND MYSTERIOUS, TO WHICH OUR LORD CALLS US. What right had they to the colt? There was a touch of mystery — why such a beast of burden? God often calls His people to difficult and mysterious duties. Try to do it and all is well ordered.
III. THE PRINCIPLE HERE ILLUSTRATED APPLIES TO ALL UNDERTAKINGS IN WHICH CHRIST'S SERVANTS ENGAGE DIRECTLY FOR HIS SAKE. "The Lord hath need of him."
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