The chief priests and elders didn’t like it when Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple. He acted like he owned the place, which made them mad, because they acted like the owned the place. Who died and made Jesus king? Turns out he was about to…
27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”
29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”
31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)
33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
The religious leaders of his day were always challenging Jesus, and his authority was a focal point for them. This is because over and over Jesus proclaimed that he had authority from heaven – he made himself equal with God. This was why the leaders were conspiring against him and looking for a way to arrest him or kill him.
On this occasion they were challenging him on his clearing of the temple courts – he drove out all those people who were turning the temple of God into a place of commerce. He acted like he owned the place. No wonder they challenged him.
Jesus was tiring of their jabs, and you can see him poking back by asking them a question about John the Baptist. They couldn’t answer his question because every answer would expose their own motives and conspiracy. And so they wouldn’t answer him. Therefore, Jesus said to them, neither would he answer their question.
This isn’t to say that Jesus hid his authority from anyone. Jesus claimed to be God. Here are some of the things Jesus said about himself:
John 14:9 – if you have seen me, you have seen the Father…
John 8:58 – I was around before Abraham – before Abraham was, I am!
John 5:17-18 – Jesus made himself equal with God.
Mark 2:5-7 – claimed the ability to forgive sins.
Jesus wasn’t hiding behind riddles to keep his identity a secret, yet he was definitely pushing back against those whose intent it was to trick him and intimidate him. In fact, he was just getting started, as we will see tomorrow…