It happened on one of those days, as he was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the Good News, that the priests and scribes came to him with the elders. They asked him, “Tell us: by what authority do you do these things? Or who is giving you this authority?”
He answered them, “I also will ask you one question. Tell me: the baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men?”
They reasoned with themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” They answered that they didn’t know where it was from.
Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
One of the big problems with lying is that you have to work hard to maintain it. In this story we get to hear the thoughts of the leadership. What is fascinating to me is that they were perfectly o.k. with their hatred of Jesus and with the idea that the common man was stupid.
This high-mindedness of leadership is all too common today. Just because a person is in charge does not mean that they know better than everyone else. Some poor people are wiser than those who become president. I thank God for those in leadership who decide to believe and obey God. Unfortunately, there are many times in life when righteous leadership is in short supply.
Jesus actually refused to answer here. This is a good thing to remember when we are challenged about our faith in God. Sometimes, people don’t really want you to answer, they just want you to stumble.
If we look at what John the Baptist had told the Pharisees before he was killed, we find that John did answer this question when he was asked it. He quoted Isaiah for them, defining exactly what he was doing. Jesus knew that they didn’t believe John even though he clearly told them who he was. So, instead of answering them, he tested the sincerity of their question first using John as an example. That was a very safe thing to do because the Pharisees weren’t really sincere about anything! There is no good reason for us to “give an answer” to those who only want to trap us. I believe we should follow Jesus’ example here and refuse to answer when there is a lack of sincerity on the part of the questioner.