Daily Word

Answer with a question | Matthew 21:23-27

23 When He entered the temple area, the [ e ] chief priests and elders of the people came to Him as He was teaching and said, “By what [kind of] authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority [to exercise this power]?” 24 Jesus replied to them, “I will also ask you a question, and if you tell Me the answer, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things.

25 The baptism of John—from where did it come? From heaven [that is, ordained by God] or from men?” And they began debating among themselves [considering the implications of their answer], saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe John?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we are afraid of the [response of the] crowd; for they all regard John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what [kind of] authority I do these things.”

Matthew 21:23-27 (AMP)

As he was teaching

We know Jesus was a master teacher. He just taught His disciples about the power of prayer and faith. Now He’s back in the temple teaching. It’s amazing, yet again, that He’s allowed to be in the temple after earlier causing quite a scene as He overturned the money changer tables and cast out the sellers of goods (Matthew 21:12). The religious leaders seem to come and interrupt His teaching. They ask, “By what authority” He is doing these things – including healing the blind and accepting praises as Messiah and King.

Answer with a question

Jesus so often turns the tables on the religious leaders to expose their false religion and hypocrisy. One of His techniques is employed here – answer a question with a question. He is definitely master of the situation. Yet at the same time He loves them – though this is tough love – to expose their need and lead them to repentance. Yet their pride blocked the entrance to repentance.

Authority source

“We do not know.” is clearly a lie. Everyone knew. Yet they were smart enough to know if they acknowledged the truth, they had to likewise acknowledge Jesus had the same source of authority. This they could not accept. “They could not say, ‘Of men,’ for they were cowards. They would not say, ‘Of heaven,’ for they were hypocrites.” (Morgan quoted in enduringword.com)

“To Jesus, if they were incapable of a simple judgment—that John was heaven-sent—then they were certainly unqualified to judge his identity and the source of his authority.” (TGC)


  • When we are in difficult situations or conversations, we can call on the Lord for wisdom and favor. We can also pray for love for those opposed to us.
  • Again, let us not be too quick to judge. We must ask ourselves by what authority does Jesus speak in our lives? How do we honor the Bible, His word? Do we read it, study it, memorize, meditate on it and apply it to our lives?
Student asks question. Image from Pxfuel.com

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