Jesus Asks a Riddle
Jesus stumps the chief priests and elders with a riddle.
A sponge, a hand towel, and a glove.
Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. "By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you this authority?" Jesus replied, "I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism -- where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?" Matthew 21:23-25 (NIV)
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Do you like riddles? I have some riddles to ask you this morning. They aren't too difficult, but you will have to think a little. I will tell you this, I have the answer to each and every riddle right here in my bag -- and it will be something you have all seen before.
Here is the first riddle. What holds water even though it is full of holes? If you think you know, raise your hand. I have the answer right here in my bag. It is a sponge!
I have another riddle for you. What gets wet when it is drying? Surely someone will guess this one. It is a towel!
I have one more riddle. Now listen very closely. When I am filled, I can work or play; when I am empty, I do nothing all day. What am I? That's a hard one, isn't it? It's a glove. With your hand inside, it can do many things, but when it is empty, it can do nothing.
I think Jesus must have liked riddles too. Sometimes he used a riddle to teach people a lesson. One day Jesus was teaching in the temple. The priests and elders of the temple didn't believe that Jesus was the Son of God and they were upset because he had been performing miracles.
"Who gave you the authority to do these things?" they asked Jesus.
Jesus said, "I will ask you a question and, if you can answer me, then I will answer you. Here's my question. Did the baptism of John come from heaven or from men? Where did he get his authority?"
The priests couldn't answer Jesus' riddle. If they said it was from heaven, Jesus might ask them why they didn't believe John when he said that Jesus was the son of God. And if they said it was from men, the people would turn against them because they believed that John was a prophet of God.
The only way they could answer was, "We don't know."
Well, maybe the priests and elders didn't know who gave Jesus the authority to perform miracles, but we do. It was God, his Heavenly Father!
Dear Lord, we thank you for sending us Jesus, your only Son. And we thank you that you gave him the power and authority to do all things. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.