Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Peer Pressure

Meditation for the week of February 3, 2013

Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?"  (Matthew 21:23)

The Lord had just made his “triumphal entry” entry into Jerusalem.  He had cleansed the temple, overthrowing the tables of those who were merchandising religion.   He had healed the lame and the blind and had cursed a fig tree which withered up because it wasn’t bearing fruit.  Then the chief priests and elders of the people had the audacity to come to the Lord and ask Him who had given Him the right to do these things because they surely hadn’t. 

The Lord was born in Bethlehem without a natural father which meant that he appeared to be illegitimate to those who didn’t believe the Scriptures.  He grew up in Nazareth, a town despised by most Jews.  He didn’t get the formal schooling that a religious leader would normally get from the Rabbi’s.  He didn’t have riches and the power that sometimes goes with that. However, He spoke with authority and the people could detect that from the beginning of his ministry.  In Matthew 7:29 we read, “For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”  I think even the average citizen of that day knew that the Lord knew what He was talking about while the scribes and religious leaders did not.  But if that is true, why did the people listen to the scribes and Pharisees and encourage the Romans to crucify the Lord?  I believe the answer is “peer pressure.”

The religious leaders had the right education, they had the right connections, they had the approval of their peers, they had riches in most cases, and they were “in” with the Roman leaders.  But they didn’t know their own Bibles.  They didn’t see that Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 and other old testament prophecies required the Lord to suffer before He could reign.  They could quote the Scriptures and they could teach their traditions, but they simply didn’t know what they were talking about.

My question is, “Had I been there in that day and at that time, who would I have followed?”  But a better question is, “In our day and in our time, who am I following?”   If peer pressure caused the people to listen to the leaders who wanted to crucify the Lord in His day, how much easier it must be for us to be affected by peer pressure and listen to the wrong leaders today.

The Lord got His authority from His Father who on two occasions said that this was His beloved Son and that He should be listened to and followed.  One time was at His baptism and one time was at the Mount of Transfiguration.  The first time, quite a few likely heard the voice from heaven.  The second time only three disciples heard that voice.  But even without the voice from heaven, after the Lord taught the people the principles of the Kingdom in the sermon on the mount, they detected that He knew what He was taking about.  They seemed to sense his authority even though His message was radically different from what a Jew would normally be taught.  The Lord taught them to worship in private, not in public.  They were to be peacemakers.  They were to turn the other cheek, to have their riches in heaven and not on earth.  They were to depend upon the Lord for their daily needs, to forgive, to not judge hypocritically;  and to recognize that the most people are on the broad road that leads to destruction.  This was not a message that the people would usually hear from their religious leaders.

So who are we listening to today?   There are some basic things that I want to know before listening to a teacher.  I want to know how that person was reached and saved.  How did he or she become a believer in the Lord Jesus?  I want to know if that person was willing to identify with the Lord in an immersion ceremony called baptism in order to confess his or her faith in the Lord.  If those foundations are not clearly understood, I question the ability of that man or woman to be able to be spirit led in their teaching and understanding of the Scripture.  If a man or woman is truly saved and has spent time alone with God,  I don’t think it is difficult to detect the “touch of God” in his or her ministry.  That’s the kind of person we should be listening to today.

Because of the power of peer pressure, this is something we all need to pray about. I personally want to follow men who are obviously getting their authority from the Lord Himself through the power of the Holy Spirit,

Bruce Collins

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