1 One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up 2 and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” 3 He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, 4 was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” 5 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Jesus rarely answers a question without a question. This is never mor apparent than when He is dealing with the religious elite. They love to ask him questions in an attempt to trap him, but He never falls for their schemes. Here in this passage, they ask Him about His authority. They want to hear Him say that He is from God so they can accuse Him of blasphemy.
They don’t actually want to know where Jesus gets His authority.
So Jesus turns the tables on them and asks them about John’s authority. But the priests and scribes are not smart enough to evade Jesus’ trap. Through this exchange, Jesus reveals the true hearts of the religious leaders. They are cowards and they are totally ignorant of spiritual things.
This passage is a warning to us. It shows the need for true spiritual eyes. Without the enlightenment that comes from the Spirit, we will not recognize the works of God for what they are. Their hearts were hardened and their minds were darkened, but God gives His Holy Spirit, who is full of wisdom, to all who ask.
Let our request to Jesus be, “Lord, fill us with this authority, that our lives might bring you glory!”