27 Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him 28 and said, "By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?" 29 Jesus said to them, "I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me." 31 They argued with one another, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Why then did you not believe him?' 32 But shall we say, 'Of human origin'?" - they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."
Jesus asks them about John the Baptist, and then orders the Pharisees to answer him. There is some force, a little attitude, behind Jesus’ question.
And notice how they respond. They don’t answer with what they believe. They weigh the practicality of the options and then say, “We do not know.” We, as readers, never discover what they truly believe. They don’t say John’s authority was heavenly for fear of losing an argument. They don’t say it was earthly for fear of a riot. The truth never even enters into their thought process.
This is in stark contrast to Peter, who doesn’t worry about being right or wrong, but instead just tells the truth.
Message provided by the Miller Summer Youth Institute.