Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8
After Jesus had arrived at the temple to teach another day, the chief priests, scribes and elders (Sanhedrin) confronted Him. Since they were in charge of the temple, they wanted to know who had given Him authority or permission to teach and heal there. He was probably teaching in the large outer court known as the court of the Gentiles.
The Jews wanted to accuse Jesus of blasphemy in order to have grounds to put Him to death. They thought that He would declare Himself to be the Messiah, which would give them this charge.
In His wisdom, Jesus replied with His own question. “The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?”
The Sanhedrin ignored an excellent opportunity to reassess itself and get to the bottom of their quarrel with Jesus. They could have confessed that John was a teacher from God, who taught that Jesus was the Messiah and that He had the proper authority to teach in the temple.
It did not happen. They lied and said, “We do not know.”
Jesus replied, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”