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Monday of the Third Week of Advent | Vanessa Johnson

As a rebellious teen, I loved the story in today’s Gospel. The chief priests and elders demand to know: “By what authority are you doing these things?”

Jesus says: answer my question and I’ll answer yours. And they were stumped. 

My teen self thought: Ha! Take that, authority figures!  

I loved the story, but now I realize that I didn’t understand it, and I didn’t understand Jesus.  Jesus wasn’t concerned with putting people in their place; he was focused on helping people find their place.  In God’s realm, Jesus says, all of us belong. 

The story (and Jesus’ response) may be intended to show that authority is not granted by humans, but by God. 

“Where was John’s baptism from? Was it heavenly or of human origin?” could be intended to demonstrate Jesus as Messiah. 

John baptized Jesus, and said, here is the One for whom we’ve waited. If John’s baptism was of God, then Jesus was/is truly the promised One.  

I still like the story, but I see it differently.  I still like Jesus’ response to the elders and chief priests, but now I don’t see a God scoring points in debate. I see a God whose response is always, here I am, can’t you see? Come to Me. 


Like the Psalmist in today’s reading, today we say, teach us your ways, Lord; guide us in Your truth. Give us open hearts.

-Vanessa Johnson