Ps 27; Lamentations 2:8-19; 2 Corinthians 1:8-22; Mark 11:27-33
Discussion & Study
- Do you think the leaders who questioned Jesus’ authority really couldn’t tell where John’s authority came from?
- Why do you think they questioned Jesus on this point at this time?
- At whose behest did Paul change his plans according to the 2 Corinthians passage? For what reason(s) did the Corinthians believe Paul made his plans and his message?
- According to Ps 27, when one purposes to seek God’s face, what can that one expect?
- What does the Lamentations passage say is the result of following human “prophets” rather than God?
Have you ever noticed that when you are dealing with difficult realities by laboring to respond only to God’s leading rather than to present provocations that you are often criticized for circumventing present authority? Israel’s spiritual leaders were doing precisely that when they confronted Jesus in the Temple the day after He cleansed it. Essentially, they were requiring Jesus to live in the reality they had created rather than in the Reality of the Father. Their reality placed their own authority squarely in the center, allowing them to redefine worship, to regulate the people’s behavior, and (most importantly) to ignore God’s assessment of their leadership.
This was nothing new. False prophets in Jeremiah’s day had redefined reality for Israel, comforting her cheaply and pandering to her sins, so that she could not respond to God’s correction. Nor would it be the last time that self-interested leaders would try it. Paul faced similar criticism when concern that a second visit to Corinth would only pain the Christians there rather than encourage them, caused Paul to change his travel plans. The leaders at Corinth apparently accused Paul of being worldly and unreliable, because he thwarted their plans.
Interestingly, both Paul and Jeremiah seek to comfort those who have been deceived by false redefinitions of reality by directing the focus of God’s people back to His utter constancy of purpose. ‘He has done what He said he would do,’ says Jeremiah. ‘I will continue to do whatever benefits you most,’ says Paul. God’s reality is the only comfort, the only cure. Jesus’ response to the leaders of His day was an invitation to consider a reality that they could not escape. ‘God has spoken by John the Baptist, who confirmed My divine appointment, and everyone knows it.’
Reorienting towards God’s purpose does not remove the tension or danger. However, it does offer a way to look beyond the present difficulty. The Psalmist urges himself to “wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage…” Ultimately, the Lord’s reality breaks through the comfortable illusions and the one who has insisted upon living in the Lord’s reality will find himself sheltered in the day of trouble.