…they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”‬‬

Mark 11:33 CSB

Jesus and His disciples have travelled to Jerusalem for Passover — the very Passover where He is destined to fulfill His role as the Lamb of God. The Triumphal Entry has taken place. Jesus has cleansed the temple, incensed at the disrespect and degradation of His Father’s house. The quiet days of ministry in the backwater of Galilee are behind Him. His time is getting short. He’s in the big city now and causing quite a stir!

The chief priests and scribes and elders are threatened by His influence and displays of power and are plotting against Him. Indignantly they approach Him in the temple and ask by whose authority He is acting.  Then Jesus asks them about John’s baptism, promising to answer their question if they will answer His.  He wants them to tell Him whether John the Baptist’s ministry was from Heaven or not.  In other words, ordained by God or not.  They hum and haw, consulting each another, realizing with dread that Jesus has them cornered.  Either way, however they answer, they’ll end up on somebody’s bad side.  Finally they just lamely respond, “We don’t know.”  And those three little words reveal their hearts. Those three little words convict me of what I often find lurking in the corners of my own heart too.

“I don’t know” can be a very good and healthy thing to bring yourself to say.  I’ve written before about how important true humility is in attaining knowledge.  “I don’t know” is the first step on the journey toward knowing!  But these religious men are not demonstrating a healthy humility here! In fact, they are being false in order to buy themselves time.  They DO know!  They just don’t want to admit it…because that would mean either danger from the crowd or radical repentance for them.  Interestingly, Jesus responds by withholding from them the very thing they are after from Him.

This whole exchange makes me ask myself if I sometimes use the cop out of “I don’t know” when I am waffling in my decision-making or putting off repentance or dancing a little closer to bondage than I should. It also makes me wonder what Jesus is waiting to reveal to me about Himself if I were brave enough to step out of my feigned ignorance and just do what I know is right!  

Scripture tells us that knowing the right thing to do but not doing it is sin (James 4:17).  How much worse then to know the right thing and yet pretend we don’t even know it!  Surely that is also sin.  I believe there are things we can only find out about Jesus when we are brave enough to answer Him honestly. Until we are ready to confront the truth, He will not reveal what we are so desperate to know and experience of Him. Like the Apostle Paul learned, the perfection of Christ’s strength happens in our absolute weakness (II Corinthians 12:9). The supernatural delight of doing His will comes only through jumping off that proverbial fence and DOING His will (Psalm 40:8).

If there is a step of obedience you’ve been procrastinating, I urge you to just do it. No matter the cost. There are things you will never discover about the sufficiency of Jesus for you until you do. The joy of His pleasure will remain hypothetical until you do. We must stop playing dumb if we long to experience the reality of who Jesus is. When we open ourselves completely to Him, He opens Himself intimately to us too. And that is a delight that dwarfs all others!

One thought on “What We Forfeit on the Fence

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