They arrive at the Temple to find a group of Temple priests and officials waiting for Jesus. They march up to Him and ask in authoritative voices, “Who gave You permission to do all these things that You are doing? What right do You have?” Jesus smiles, as if they are just having a pleasant conversation, and says, “I’ll tell you what you want to know if you can answer My question. They huddle together for a moment to discuss this, then turn back to Jesus and nod. “Fine. We will answer Your question, then You must answer ours!” Jesus asks them, “Who gave John the authority to baptize? God or people?” The faces of the priests turn white. They realize they are stuck. Another huddle ensues as they try to figure a way out of this predicament. “If we say God gave John authority, He will ask us why we were against him. And if we say John got his authority from man, the people will come against us, because they all loved John and call him a prophet.” Finally, they turn back to Jesus and simply say, “We don’t know who gave John his authority.” Jesus tilts His head to the side and raises an eyebrow. “So I can’t tell you who gives Me permission to do what I do either.” With that, He walks past the group and into the Temple for a day of teaching.
Matthew 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8