In Reply to the Questions as to his Authority, Jesus Gives the Third Great Group of Parables.
(in the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, a.d.30.)

Subdivision A.


^A Matt. XXI.23-27; ^B Mark XI.27-33; ^C Luke XX.1-8.

^c 1 And it came to pass, on one of the days, ^b they [Jesus and the disciples] come again to Jerusalem: ^a 23 And when he was come into the temple, ^b and as he was walking in the temple [The large outer court of the temple, known as the court of the Gentiles, was thronged during the feasts, and was no doubt the part selected by Jesus and his apostles when they taught or preached in the temple. We thrice find them on that side of it where Solomon's porch was located -- John x.23; Acts iii.11; v.23], ^c as he was teaching the people and preaching the gospel [viz.: "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye" -- Mark i.15], there came upon him { ^b come ^a unto him} ^b the chief priests and the scribes, and { ^c with} the elders; { ^a of the people} [the Sanhedrin (see p.415). This committee of that august tribunal came in formal state and with a great show of authority, hoping to make it apparent to the people that Jesus was an unauthorized, self-appointed meddler in matters over which they had exclusive control.] ^c 2 and they spake, ^b 28 and they said { ^c saying} unto him Tell us: By what authority doest thou these things? ^a and { ^c or} who is he that gave thee this authority? ^b to do these things? [To regulate and control the affairs of the temple belonged unquestionably and exclusively to the priests and Levites. Knowing that Jesus had no authority from any priest or any scribe, they boldly challenged his right to cleanse the temple or to teach in it, feeling sure that to defend himself he would be forced to publicly declare himself as the Messiah and thus to give them the matter for accusation which they had long sought -- John x.24.] ^a 24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, ^c I also will ask you a { ^a one} question, which if ye tell me, ^b and answer me, ^a I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things.25 The baptism of John, whence was it? ^b Was it from heaven, or from men? answer me. [The question which Jesus asked was intimately and inseparably connected with the question which they had asked. Jesus, of course, did not derive his authority from John the Baptist, but John had testified plainly to the Messiahship of Jesus, and had, in no uncertain terms, designated Jesus as immeasurably greater than himself. Now, if the Pharisees admitted that John was a heaven-sent messenger or witness (of which fact his baptism was propounded as a test, since it was a religious ordinance introduced on his authority), then John had already answered the Sanhedrin that Jesus derived his authority from his Messiahship, and hence, all that the Sanhedrin had to do to satisfy their minds was simply to believe John. But if, on the other hand, the Pharisees rejected John's pretensions and claims as a heaven-sent messenger in the face of the almost universal popular conviction, then what was there for Jesus to present his claims to so blind, bigoted, and unreasoning a body?] 31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, ^a unto us, Why then did ye not believe him? [When he testified to the Messiahship of Jesus ( John i.7, 15, 34; iii.26-36; x.40-42). The Sanhedrin could not admit that the messenger was heaven-sent and yet deny his testimony.] 26 But if we shall { ^b should we} say, From men -- ^c all the people will stone us: ^a we fear the multitude; for all hold John as a prophet. ^c for they are persuaded that John was a prophet. ^b they feared the people: for all verily held John to be a prophet.33 And they answered Jesus ^c that they knew not whence it was. ^a and said, { ^b say,} We know not. [It should be noted in their consultation there was no effort either to ascertain or to speak the truth. The question as to whether John really was or was not a prophet was in no sense the subject of their investigation. They were merely deciding what to say. They were seeking for the most expedient answer, and as neither truthful answer was expedient, they resolved to falsely deny any knowledge of the case. Men of such brazen dishonesty could not be dealt with openly and fairly as could sincere seekers after truth.] And Jesus, ^a also said { ^b saith} unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. [Their spoken lie was, "We know not," but their inward and true answer was, "We will not tell," and Jesus answered the suppressed truth saying, "Neither tell I." How readily the subtle minds of the Jewish people would justify Jesus in thus declining to submit the question of his authority to judges who at that very moment publicly confessed their inability to even hazard an opinion, much less render a decision, as to the authority of John the Baptist, who claims were in popular estimation so obvious. It was plain that however well these men might judge human credentials, the divine testimonials of a prophet or of the Messiah were above their carnal sphere. Thus Jesus put his enemies to confusion in the first of man conflicts of that perilous Tuesday. But we may well imagine that they were rendered more bitter by the evidence of a wisdom so much beyond any which they possessed.]

cvii finding the fig-tree withered
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