“I will tell you this” is a popular intro to answers that can only be lies or cleverly disguised info. Typically it comes in a conversation with a politician who knows the question has a truthful answer and who knows that the correct answer to the question will show that he or she is irresponsible, corrupt, and perverse. He r she says it any way, providing evidence that a certain amount of consciousness is part of the experience of hell-bound people.
Some people think they know who among the living is going to heaven or hell. What if the same people cannot tell if they themselves are save or lost. The repeated appearance of this preamble – I will tell you this – reminds us of the question of authority posed by Yeshua’s contemporaries.
And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority do you these things? and who gave you this authority?Matthew 21:23
In order to bring their ignorance and treachery to light our Lord posed a question of his own, promising to answer their question if they answered his.
Was the Baptist a legit messenger or no?
But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these comes of evil.Matthew 5:37
Yeshua asked a lot of questions too, but the one about John the Baptist moved things into high gear. If our answer to a closed question (yes or no would be sufficient!) is more than a simple “yes” or “no” there is evil in the making. Was John authorized with his baptism?
The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did all of you not then believe him?Matthew 21:25
A fatal “I cannot tell you …”
A simple “yes” or “no” would have been sufficient.
And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.Matthew 21:27
Their unbelief and resistance to the Holy Spirit so haunted them that they chose to chart a course to try to hide their true feelings and opinions.
These questioners – chief priests and elders – were themselves on the outside pretending to be in, but they had rejected the most important message since God called Abraham: “the Kingdom is near”. They were satisfied to stay on the path to hell. They imagined that just by saying they were in compliance with God’s will or they loved the Law did not have any weight. John did not buy “We are Abraham’s descendants”, and Yeshua was making it quite clear that John represented the best of Abraham’s expectations, and Moses and the prophets were taking a back seat. The people in Moses seat, the people who gave God’s word faithfully, are all yesterday, not as if they do not exist and provide samples of caution.
What it meant for Jews to repent in the first century
The Law and Prophets (books and persons) are yesterday because the Eternal one is with us in time. The kingdom is near because the king its king has moved from glory to humiliation.
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matt. 11:12) For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, (Matt. 11:13) and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. (Matt. 11:14)
“Hell-bound people” is not a insulting way to talk about humans. Everybody is and deceived by the glitter of tradition and invention. Without hell-bound people there would be no point to the year of release, neither in the agricultural and local sense nor in the spiritual and global sense. John called his generation seed of vipers and the Lord questioned whether a change was possible. It is a question that affects all people who do not believe.
All of you serpents, all of you generation of vipers, how can all of you escape the damnation of hell?Matthew 23:33