Day Forty-Two of Lent
April 16, 2019
By MB Discipleship
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
Sometimes power doesn’t need to defend itself.
Have you ever been around a person who was confident and self-assured, and didn’t need to justify themselves? Someone who seemed quietly self-possessed and didn’t have to remind people of their skill or competence or standing?
It can be very difficult to break the impulse to explain ourselves constantly. Most people are prone to defensiveness from time to time, if we feel criticized or we feel insecure, if we have worked very hard or if someone has belittled or mocked us. Letting go of defensiveness can be a slow process. But it also means letting go of the burden of taking ourselves too seriously.
When powerful people got mad at Jesus, they felt like he wasn’t taking their authority seriously. In truth, they weren’t taking his authority seriously. But neither did he feel the need to give account of himself to them. So when they demanded to know, “hey! What gives you the right?!” he simply responded rhetorically with a tricky question that would put them in a difficult place no matter how they answered it. When they couldn’t answer it, he shrugged and said he wouldn’t answer their question, either.
To be clear, this is God we’re talking about. God who could zap them all the way across the temple courts with little bolts of lightning aimed at the back of their heads. God who could see into their hearts. God who called the constellations to spring forth out of chaos and nothingness.
But as much as we might want the ability to zap obnoxious people in our lives, Jesus, with his restrained power, was remarkably patient. He didn’t need to defend himself to them. He knew he didn’t answer to them!
Do you find yourself frequently getting defensive? Sometimes it’s such an understandable response, especially if you’re regularly treated with disrespect or rudeness or condescension. But it’s an exhausting posture to inhabit indefinitely. We don’t have to let others treat us poorly; but we also don’t have to bear the burden of taking ourselves too seriously.
Sometimes strength doesn’t have to remind others of its position or status. Sometimes humble strength is bearing with the immaturity or limited perspectives of other people with the gentle knowledge that ultimately you don’t answer to them. In this way, they can’t reach you.
*Do you fear people not taking you seriously? Are you able to laugh at yourself?