Here is another nugget that won’t make it into my Palm Sunday sermon. Read Mark 11.
At the end of this encounter, Jesus’s opposition confronts Him concerning His authority to do all that He has down. He borrowed a donkey, He rode into Jerusalem as a conquering king, He inspected the house of Yahweh and cast judgment over it, and He cursed a fig tree from the roots up. Just who do You think You are, mister!?
Jesus’s answer to them is another question, “Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” Jesus is not attempting to change the subject or deflect their argument away from Himself. He is not trying to call them out with a question-stopper. Rather, this question about John’s baptism pertains directly to the question of the chief priests about Jesus’s authority.
At Jesus’s baptism by John He was ordained, anointed, the Son of God. He was given the royal title of King over Israel (Mark 1:11; Psalm 2). Jesus was publicly announced by God the Father as the inheritor of the throne of David, and anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Prince of Peace (Mark 1:10).
So, when Jesus’s asks the chief priests, scribes, and elders, “What do you think about John’s baptism? Is it legitimate or not?” If they say it is legitimate, then they have confirmed Jesus’s appointment as King, and they must submit. If they say that John’s baptism was a farce, then they reject the authority of God the Father, and will incur the anger of the people. Instead of girding their loins and answering Jesus they say, “Ummm, we dunno.” And so Jesus responds with, “Then neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
If the Jews reject the Father, then Jesus won’t give them the Father. If they reject the authority of God, then God will reject them. This reveals the hardness of Israel’s heart against the God who made covenant with them. This reveals why Jesus cast judgment upon the Temple. They have rejected their King (John 19:15).