Jesus had not only created a scene when he turned over the tables literally in the Temple, but since the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus had been figuratively turning the tables on the religious leadership regarding how to worship and live out their faith. The conflicts between Jesus and those in leadership were not subsiding but only growing, especially now that Jesus was present at the Jewish spiritual center of the Temple, the very seat of God. The chief priests, the scribes, and the elders, are becoming more concerned about the teachings and actions of this itinerant preacher, and believe him to be a false prophet. They approach him when he returns to the Temple and ask, “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do them?” (Mark 11:28)?
Jesus deftly turns the table on them again. In doing so, they reveal that they do not believe that John or Jesus are operating under the authority of God, but they fear the reaction of the people gathering around their discussion. This is the time of the Passover, and many pilgrims have come to Jerusalem to celebrate. The area is teeming with people. The last thing that the Jewish leaders want is another scene as Jesus had staged from his turning over the tables the day before. The last thing they wanted was for the Roman centurions to get involved.
They refuse to answer Jesus’ question. Jesus follows like fashion then and does not answer theirs. This episode and exchange, as with the other conflicts with Jesus leaves them frustrated and even angrier at Jesus. They believe Jesus to be a false prophet, yet they are not willing to call him out publicly, so their indecisiveness fuels their resentment. Jesus is at peace because he knows that he is following the will of his Father and so he has nothing to prove.
How do we do with conflict? Are we as surefooted and confident as Jesus? If not, there can be many reasons, but foundationally, are we following the will of the Father in all that we do? The peace that surpasses all understanding that Jesus promises comes from the assurance that he is with us, he has our back, and supports us. It also comes with the confidence that we have a clear conscience. The challenge is to be clear in our discernment that we know the difference between God’s and our own will, as well as when our decisions are in accord with or opposed to God’s.
From time to time we may receive absolute clarity. Many other times we are indecisive. The answer to knowing God’s will is knowing God intimately. We encounter and develop a relationship with God as we would with any other person. Though until we develop a deeper faith life, that is easier said than done. As many of the saints attest, the closer they grew in relationship the more distant he appears. This is true because God invites us to go deeper, so we come to the point that we resist relying on our emotions, inspirations, our capacity to make sense of what we are asked. God wants us to come to the point to where he leads and we follow without hesitation. Just as the sheep knows the voice of the shepherd, we strive to recognize and hear the voice of God speaking to us in the silence of our hearts.
Photo: Starting to return to taking a quiet walk in the early evening. Ten minutes, still need to take things slow.