Inspired by Luke 20:1-8
“[Jesus] answered [the chief priests and scribes], ‘I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ They discussed it with one another, saying, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he will say, “Why did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin,” all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet.’ So they answered that they did not know where it came from.” Luke 20:3-7 (NRSV)
Political expediency and truth do not always go hand in hand. The good news of God’s grace as proclaimed and embodied by Jesus Christ was a relief to the poor, the disenfranchised, and the powerless. It was also a threat to the existing power structures. The chief priests and scribes were the gatekeepers of religious and social acceptability, and they valued the power that gave them more than they valued truth.
When Jesus asked them if John’s baptism came from heaven or was of human origin, they considered their answer according to political expediency: one answer would expose them as having rejected a sign from God, while the other answer would endanger their power and authority. Never did they consider the question according to its merits; never did they try to discern the truth. The only answer they cared about was the one that would reinforce their own power.
Political expediency and truth still do not go hand in hand today. The good news of God’s grace as proclaimed and embodied by Jesus Christ is still a relief to the poor, the disenfranchised, and the powerless, and it’s still a threat to the existing power structures. Those who claim to follow Jesus Christ and serve as the gatekeepers of our religious and social acceptability must decide whether or not the truth is more important than their power. We who claim to follow Jesus Christ and operate within those religious and social structures must do the same.
Let us pray. God of the powerless, you created every human being in your own image. Empower us to boldly proclaim your truth, that power structures may be changed to reflect your justice and compassion to all. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.