This is a classic lesson that Jesus taught the chief priests and scribes and which provides a warning to all of us. The Lord hates fence sitters. Here is a perfect example of the way he dealt with them.
The chief priests and scribes came to Jesus asking by what authority was he doing the things he did and who gave him such authority. It should have been evident to them by what authority he was doing these works for it was certainly obvious to the people. They knew that his authority was from God and they recognised he was working by the authority of God. In fact even the Pharisees knew he was from God, but they refused to admit it. Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews and a Pharisee said, “This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” (John 3:2) So they knew full well where Jesus was from.
But in order to find some reason to condemn him they asked him these questions to try and trip him up.
But Jesus was aware of their malice and so he answered them with a question saying, “I will ask you a question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men? Answer me.” (Verses 29-30) The chief priests and scribes were in a quandary as to how they should answer. They mulled the question over but could not come to a decision for any way they answered they would be shown up for their lack of faith. So they took the easy way out…they sat on the fence and said, “We do not know.” (Verse 33)
And because they sat on the fence Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Verse 33) They had refused to answer his questions so why should Jesus answer theirs? They knew where his power emanated from but they chose to ignore it, and worse, they opposed him. But the issue here was that they sat on the fence.
God hates fence sitters. There is no place in the kingdom of Heaven for fence sitters. In all situations there is a need for a decision one way or another. You can see how much he hates fence sitters and indecision in Revelation 3:15-16 speaking to the church in Laodicea, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.”
Jesus also said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30) If you are not with the Lord you are against him. There is no middle road. There is no way to have a bet both ways. A decision must be made either way and if the choice is not for the Lord, it is against him.
Why does the Lord despise fence sitting in these scriptures? Consider what a fence sitter is like. They are indecisive and cannot come to a decision. They are tossed to and fro depending which way the wind blows. They are attempting to please everyone and so will compromise themselves so as not to upset people. And you don’t know where you stand with a fence sitter as you have no idea which way they will turn.
We must learn the lesson he showed the chief priests and scribes in this section. They came to him with a questions, but because they sat on the fence they did not get an answer. If we come to the Lord with a question but are indecisive in our own minds and not fully on board with the Lord, should he answer our requests? Certainly if we are seeking the Lord for an answer we will get it, but if we are not being true to the Lord and are sitting on the fence we will not receive anything from him.
The lesson is to seek out the truth when you are in a place of indecision. Look to the Lord fully to open the door and give you insight. Open your heart and mind to receive his truth. Humble yourself under his hand and don’t waver in doubt or apprehension. As it has been written, “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silva’nus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:19-20)
In Christ there is no vacillating. There is no humming and harring but there is the definite “Yes” in him. He does not sit on the fence and does not want his people to either. Go to him and find the yes that he has promised.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/)