AGAIN ON Tuesday morning of that great week, the last week of our Saviour’s life on earth, he went with his disciples out of Bethany to go to Jerusalem. As they were walking up the Mount of Olives, they came to the fig tree to which Jesus had spoken on the morning before. It was standing upon the hillside, but withered and dead, its dry leaves turned yellow, rustling in the wind.
“Master, look!” said Peter, “the fig tree to which you spoke those words yesterday is all withered!”
“Have faith in God,” answered Jesus. “I tell you in truth, that if any one of you should say to this mountain before us, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and should not have in his mind a doubt, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it shall be done. So I say to you, whatever you pray God for, believe that God gives it to you, and it shall be yours. But keep this also in mind, whenever you stand up for prayer, if there’ is anything that you have against anybody, forgive him. Then, and then only, will your Father in heaven forgive you your sins against him.”
Again they came to Jerusalem, and walked across the Court of the Gentiles now quiet and free from the confusion of the morning before, no buying, no selling, and no carrying of loads through it to the city. They went into the Treasury, where Jesus had taught and cured on the day before; and they found it already full of people who had come together, hoping to listen again to the words of the great Teacher.
But not only were there in the Temple people friendly to Jesus, and eager to hear him; the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the members of the great council, were also there, ready to do all in their power against him. These men were very angry at Jesus for what he had done on the day before. They pushed their way through the crowds up to Jesus, and said to him, with an air of lordship:
“What right have you to come here and act as a ruler? Who gave you the right to do what you did yesterday?”
“I will ask you a question,” answered Jesus promptly, “and if you will answer that, then I will tell you who has given me the right to do what I have done here in the Temple. What do you say about John the Baptistdid he speak the words of God as his messenger? Or did he speak his own words only, without authority or power from God? Answer me that question!”
They were taken aback at this answer of Jesus; and began talking together, while the crowd around looked on.
“What shall we say?” they whispered to each other. “If we say, `John the Baptist spoke from God,’ he will ask, `Then why did you not believe his words and obey him?’ No, let us say, `He spoke only as a man, without authority or power from God.’ But then, if we say that, the people will stone us, for they all believe that John was a true prophet of God.”
So after a time these men said to Jesus, “We cannot answer your question. We don’t know whether John spoke the words of God or his own words.”
Then said Jesus, ” No more will I tell you who has given me the power to do these things.”
For Jesus well knew that if these men had not believed when John the Baptist said, “Thus saith the Lord,” they would not believe him saying, “I do only what my Father tells me to do.”