“And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Matthew 21:23-27)
In this chapter, Jesus confronted the Pharisees, the religious rulers of the Jews. They resented His popularity among the Jewish people. Their animosity increased enormously in a short space of time because they felt threatened by His challenges to their authority. Earlier He confronted them when He entered Jerusalem in triumph and the people hailed Him as King and Messiah. Jesus increased their outrage when He chased the moneychangers out of the temple area. He then refused to tell the Pharisees the basis for His authority for doing what He did because their request was insincere, designed only to trip Him up and gather information to use against Him.
When we speak to people in the world about Jesus, they often feel uncomfortable. They resent Him. They challenge His authority and His existence as well as the Scripture itself the avenue of God’s truth and wisdom because these threaten their self-centered worldview. They maintain that they alone, not God, not anyone, determine how they should live and what they should do with their lives. Such people may make us uncomfortable because we do not know how to answer them. Yet we should ask them on what authority do they base their beliefs? On what basis should they or anyone live a good life? On what basis should they do good to others rather than ill? What authority do they use to make any decisions about ethics or morality? We who have faith in Christ have Him as our authority. Over two millennia He has provided stability and peace to millions who trust in Him. Can the world make any such claim?