‘What authority have you for acting like this? Or who gave you authority to do these things?’
The boy planned to entrap the wise old man by concealing a sparrow in his hand behind his back, and asking whether it was alive or dead. If he responded alive, he would crush it and if dead, he would set it free. Similarly, the motive of the question posed to Jesus about his authority. If he claimed it came directly from God they could accuse him of blasphemy and if from himself, they could make him appear foolish.
The wise man discerningly replied, “Whether the bird is alive or dead, is in your hands; the choice is yours”. Jesus placed the authorities in a similar dilemma; He countered with a question as to whether John’s baptism came from heaven or man. They were left no alternative but to state their ignorance, permitting Jesus the upper hand.
Amidst the mounting challenges, painful partings, dashed hopes, crushed dreams and fears we must ultimately choose not to be distracted but to stand on Jesus’ authority: recognising, believing and trusting in God’s evident and constant presence in and around us.