Thoughts for the Day

Saturday, 1st June 2024: What is the truth?

Scribes Authority Chief priests Mark 11 Jesus Truth

Reading : Verses from Mark, Chapter 11


Again they came to Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.’ They argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say, “Why then did you not believe him?” But shall we say, “Of human origin”?’—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


In the UK as the candidates make their bids for our votes at the coming General Election it struck me how hard it is to find the truth of their assertions and also of their accusations. Who is right and who is wrong? Similarly, concerning two Public Enquiries, one into infected blood that was given to people years ago, and the other about Post Office employees who were prosecuted for a mistake made by a computer programme, how difficult it was to find out the truth. Most of us would say that something which is true agrees with fact or reality, and that there is some kind of evidence, but today, truth can be distorted because those who shout the loudest sometimes seem to win the day!

When Jesus appears in Solomon's porch (the traditional place for teaching in the Temple) the chief priests, scribes and elders determine to deal with this upstart Galilean, who has been breaking the Law and stirring up the people. The religious leaders of the day set a trap, if Jesus says his authority comes "from God" they can accuse him of blasphemy and if he says "on my own authority" he can be ridiculed as mad. By turning the question on his accusers Jesus silences them, since John's reputation as a prophet sent by God, is widely acknowledged.

But the truth is that Jesus has already established his authority again and again - over nature (calming a storm Mark 4.35-41); over sickness and disease (healing of Bartimaeus Mark 10.46-52); over sin (the paralysed man Mark 2.1-13 ); and over death (Jairus' daughter Mark 5.35-41). Jesus was aiming to push the leaders to make a decision about veracity - that is what was the truth about his authority, and where did it come from. This is also a truth which each one of us must make a decision about - do we believe that Jesus Christ is God?


Lord Jesus Christ,
grant us so believe in Your truth,
that all else seems false.
May we grow in wisdom and
and may our faith continue to be
so that we may learn to walk
whatever path You lay before us
with confidence.

Follow Up Thoughts

If you want to explore the subject of Truth further, you might like this:

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