And it came about on one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him,
2 and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?”
3 And He answered and said to them, “I shall also ask you a question, and you tell Me:
4 “Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?”
5 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’
6 “But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.”
7 And they answered that they did not know where it came from.
8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Lk. 20:1-8 NAS)
How did the Lord, handle His authority being challenged by mere unbelieving men?
Elsewhere, in the gospels Jesus mentions to His disciples that they would be persecuted and ridiculed just as He was, but one way he told them to carry themselves during these situations, was ‘gentle as doves, wise as serpents.’ This was not a command, He was not willing to obey. Here we see that Jesus behaved in this way. When accused of working by an authority that was not Gods by the men who ran the religious scene of the time; when being questioned not sincerely but to trap him and have him arrested, Jesus did not throw a temper tantrum. Neither was his pride insulted, his identity was in God and from God, and man’s rejection did not affect Him. He reacted gently. Though, these men who questioned Him, sought to trap Jesus into an incorrect answer that would get him into trouble, Jesus flipped it all on them by asking them a question. In this way, he behaved wisely. He knew that the people believed that John the Baptist was a prophet from God that was an ally of Jesus, therefore if His authority was from God then Christ was also from God. If they said his authority came from man, they would lose favor with the people. Jesus put them in a place through His question, where the argument was over, and the evil of their heart was put on display.
In like manner our authority will be challenged. As we begin to preach Christ at our jobs, supermarkets, and amongst family we will experience the same type of questions people experienced. People will say, ‘I don’t believe in God, He never answered my prayers.’ ‘How can you say the Bible is totally correct and has no errors?’ ‘Jesus could not have been fully God and fully man that is impossible!’ These are the taunts against our faith that we have to hear when we begin to walk in our authority in Christ that He has given us. When we see these challenges, we should not be afraid or surprised, the Bible makes it clear, if Jesus authority was challenged so will ours. We are to meet these types of people in love, gentle as doves, wise as serpents.
You might be nervous to begin to act on the authority Christ has given you because of fear of man and rejection. Let me first address that we need not fear the rejection of man, because we are wholly accepted in God. If He accepts us then the rejection of man is not in alignment with Gods will, and we know that what God says triumphs over what the world says. Also, we need not fear the challenge of man because we have been given everything we need to face these challenges.
Let us break it down, ‘gentle as doves, wise as serpents’ is how we are to meet those who challenge the authority of God. Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, meaning that it is a natural by product of our walk with God. Like me, you might find yourself not being gentle at times. We are fallen human beings and are susceptible to temptation. Yet, we know we have been made new creations, new gentle creations. So, the first thing we do is address our rude or impatient actions with the truth that we as new creations bear gentleness. We begin to view ourselves and to think of ourselves as one who has undergone a new birth. The second thing we do is that we begin to immerse ourselves in the truth of the Scriptures that remind us of who the Lord is, a living word that changes us and empowers us to be more like Christ. It is the word of God, and the word of God has power for those who believe in it. The more we begin to meditate on the truths of it, the more we will find ourselves ready too obey its commands. Secondly, we immerse ourselves into a constant place of fellowship with God. When we allow the Spirit too consistently bring within us a prayer, an intercession, a hope, a verse, a truth as we meditate on the word of God we will find ourselves consistently empowered too be gentle as doves, wise as serpents. The Bible calls us to put on the mind of Christ, to do this, we must get to know the Christ that it talks about on a regular basis. When we put on His mind, as we walk in intimacy with Him, the Spirit Himself will cause us to be gentle as doves, wise as serpents. Can I put it a bit more simply, our role is to walk committed to fellowship with God and as we fellowship with Him the Spirit that empowers us to have fellowship with God will empower us to answer the enemies of the Cross in a gentle and wise way.
This text in Luke 20 finishes up by stating that these men who questioned him in the end marveled at the way he answered them and dared not to ask anymore questions because they knew it would only result in their defeat. In this same manner we can walk in our authority, because of fellowship and obedience to God in a way that shocks our generation and brings people to repentance and the saving knowledge of Christ. It is all about Gods faithfulness, being worked through our lives, may all praise go to Him.