By What Authority Are You Doing This?

Photo by Adam Birkett on Unsplash

Matthew 21:23 And when {Jesus} was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?

The Lost But Religious Will Attack Jesus To The End

The Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees were very vocal opponents of Jesus’ ministry. At every point they would question Jesus. When Jesus reached out to the deplorable crowd they questioned His disciples:

Matthew 9:11 Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and other sinners? (my paraphrase=mp)

Jesus’ response (Matthew 9:12) was simply, “They that are well do not need a physician, but those that are sick”(mp). Jesus is the great Physician, God come to humanity to heal us! But this didn’t stop their questioning. In

Mark 7:5 Why don’t your disciples follow the traditions of the elders – they are eating bread with unwashed hands?(mp)

Luke 5:21 Who is this Man {Jesus}? He blasphemes God. Only God can forgive sin!(mp)

Matthew 12:2 Jesus, Why are Your disciples not following the Law of the Sabbath?(mp)

Over and over again, these enemies of the Cross verbally attacked Jesus. Earlier in the day the Priests and Scribes questioned Jesus as He rose into Jerusalem for the Passover. As the children cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David”, these self righteous judges looked at Jesus, saying “Don’t You hear what they are saying?” (Matthew 21:16). Their implication was that Jesus – if He were truly a Prophet of God – would stop their praises. Jesus told them:

Luke 19:40 I tell you, if these people stopped their praises, the stones would cry out!(mp)

The Messiah had come. He is coming to fulfill the prophecies. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Now the Lamb is teaching, not long before He goes to the Cross for your sins and mine. As Jesus is teaching in the Temple the Priests and Pharisees once more interupt the Master.

Matthew 21:23 … By WHAT authority doest thou these things? and WHO gave thee this authority?

This is the TEMPLE. Only the Priests were supposed to be teaching in the TEMPLE. Jesus, are You a Priest? Has some Priest we do not know of given You permission to teach in the place where only the Priests are to teach?

I want to point out that Jesus never told these people that these were bad questions. These are actually very good questions.

By what authority do You do these things?
Who gave You this authority?

The questions are good, but Jesus has already answered these questions many times throughout His ministry. If you refer to Mark chapters 2 and 3 you will see that the Pharisees often questioned Jesus’ authority. They questioned Jesus’ authority:

When He healed the man sick of palsy (Mark 2:6-7)
When Jesus never required His disciples to fast (Mark 2:18)
When Jesus healed on the Sabbath (Mark 3:6)
When Jesus did the miraculous (Mark 3:22)

Jesus’ authority had been well established at this point in His ministry. Even a well know leader by the name of Nicodemus came to Jesus and told Him:

John 3:1 … Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him

Jesus had authority. He proved it by His works. The Scribes and Pharisees saw Jesus perform, miracle after miracle. Our Lord Jesus “taught as One having authority” (Matthew 7:29; Mark 1:22). Jesus cast out demons, “for with authority commandeth He even thew unclean spirits, and they do obey Him” (Mark 1:27). The Bible even tells us that Jesus:

Luke 9:1 … called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.

Jesus not only had authority – He had authority to give away! Jesus has all power,

Matthew 28:18 … ALL POWER {ἐξουσία exousía, pronounced ex-oo-see’-ah, POWER or AUTHORITY} is given unto ME in Heaven and in earth

The Carnal Just Want To Attack Jesus

Carnal or lost people – particularly religious lost people – just want to attack the truth. “By what authority do you do this?” is not a bad question. “Who gave you this authority?” is a question worth asking. Had the Pharisees and Priests been sincere in their question, no doubt Jesus would have readily answered it. Jesus has answered their questions repeatedly- yet they would not hear. The same is true of many Americans today. God has told us things, truths that are immutable, and yet we do not want to hear. Rather than argue with an unhearing enemy, Jesus turned the tables on them. He asked:

Matthew 21:24-25 … Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?

Jesus often tripped up the hard of hearing by answering their questions with questions. This is a great technique to get people thinking. Jesus simply asked,

John’s Baptism – his ministry. Was it from God, or was it something people just dreamed up?”

If these self righteous judges truly wanted to know the source of Jesus’ authority, they would have readily answered that question. As the Apostle said, “we can do NOTHING against the truth, but FOR the truth” (2 Corinthians 13:8). Truth is truth.

Truth does not have to cloak itself in confusion and darkness.
Truth stands up and says “Look at Me”.
Lies eventually prove themselves to be lies.
There’s an old saying, “Truth will out”.
The facts will be made known in the end.

As soon as Jesus asks His question, the Priests and Pharisees begin to mentally stumble over themselves. Listen to their thought:

Matthew 21:25-26 … they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? 26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.

These same Pharisees questioned John the Baptist when he began ministering on the Jordan River. The Bible says:

John 1:19-23 … this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou {Elijah}? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet {Isaiah}.

John responded to the question “By what authority are you doing this?” by quoting the Messianic Prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5. John is the Herald of the Messiah. He would introduce the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and kickstart His public ministry. John was very clear that he himself was not the Christ, the Messiah, but the Messiah was coming. One day John looks up and sees Jesus coming to him to be baptized in water. John cries out:

John 1:29-34 Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that {Jesus} should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

The whole reason that John was baptizing people with water was so that he could introduce Jesus as the Messiah to Israel. “John, by what authority are you baptizing in the Jordan?” John was not bashful. “My authority comes of God. My authority is found in the Scripture. By commission is from the King of Kings. I am here to introduce Jesus!”

Now the Pharisees and priests question Jesus just as they questioned John. So Jesus questions them back. “Did John’s ministry come from Heaven – or was it just something John thought up to do?” The Pharisees are in a quandary. If they say, “John’s ministry was from Heaven”, then they know full well that Jesus would say, “Why didn’t you believe John? Didn’t John say I was the Messiah? If his ministry is from God, then My ministry is from God!” So they can’t say that! But if they say, “John’s ministry was just something he thought up”, then the people will tear them up.

The Pharisees and Priests will lose their Facebook Friends.
The Pharisees and Priests will be banned from Twitter!
They will lose their Instagram accounts!
And, horror or horrors, they might get thrown out of the Temple!

I hope you can recognize sarcasm when you read it … but it is the truth. These men were not interested in the truth. John was sent from God to bear witness for the Light that is Jesus (John 1:7).

John 3:19-20 … Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

They didn’t want to hear the truth – they just wanted to shut Jesus up so they could continue doing the wrong things they were doing. So we read:

Matthew 21:27 … And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

Now we’re not done with this story, but I want to return to the good questions that these bad men asked.

That question is one I think we need to ask ourselves – especially in the social climate of America 2020.

By What Authority Are You Doing What You’re Doing? Who Gave You This Authority?

We who are saved by faith in Christ live in a dark world. We who are saved by faith in Christ are called of God to:

Ephesians 4:1 … walk worthy of the {calling} wherewith ye are called, 2 with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Colossians 1:10 … walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God

We are not supposed to follow the crowd. We are supposed to follow Jesus. We are commanded of God to,

Isaiah 2:5 … walk in the Light of the Lord …

1 John 1:7 … walk in the Light, as {Jesus} is in the Light …

Do you not know, dear Christ follower, that

1 John 1:5 … God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all …

Called from the kingdom of darkness into Christ’s marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9), we are to live our lives to the best of our abilities being like Jesus. He is the Son of God Who saved us. We are to be sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus (John 1:12; Romans 8:14; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 2:2).

  • We as sons of God are not to be racist. Racism looks at the outward skin of a person, and degrades, mocks, or devalues that person because of their color. Racism exists and is not exclusive to any color of person. But racism is incompatible with Christianity.

The Bible tells us that our God, the God Who created Heaven and earth and all that is in it, is

Deuteronomy 10:17 a God of gods and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty and a terrible, WHICH REGARDETH NOT PERSONS …

When God established Israel as a nation, He commanded that nation’s judges

Deuteronomy 16:19 … thou shalt not {twist} judgment, thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a {bribe}

Those placed in positions of authority in the land are to remember that they represent God, and God is no respecter of persons. God does not regard the rich as better than the poor (Job 34:19) – for both rich and poor are THE WORKS OF HIS HANDS. The Bible tells us over and over again that with God our Father:

Romans 2:9-11 … tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: … there is no respect or persons with God.

Our God accepts no one based on their outward person” (Galatians 2:6). God did not develop the concept of race or racism. The word “race” is only found in Scripture when it refers to competitive runners. It is the old sin nature in us that looks at another person outwardly, and makes inward judgments as to their worth. Every person is of infinite worth to God. This is why Jesus Christ was born into the world a Jew to save all who will believe on Him.

As far as God is concerned, there are only two people groups on the earth that matter. There are those who are of the family of God by faith in Christ Jesus – and those who are NOT of the family of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Our God looks at the heart. The Scripture declares:

John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Your color does not matter to God – but your heart does. When we look into Heaven, what do we see? The Bible says:

Revelation 7:9-12 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

If you despise your fellow man or woman because of color, Heaven will never be your home. If you teach racism in any form, and preach it to be true, you will never see the glory of Heaven. He or she that does wrong shall receive for the wrong that they have done (Colossians 3:25) – for God has no respect of persons. As Jesus’ stepbrother rightly said:

James 2:8-9 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

By what authority do you do these things?
And who gave you this authority?

  • We as sons of God receive our authority from God’s Scripture. Throughout Jesus’ ministry when He was challenged, our Lord referred to the Scripture.

When the devil tempted Jesus to do evil, His reply was “It is written” (Matthew 4:4, 6, 10). When Jesus cast the money changers out of the Temple, His reasoning was “It is written” (Matthew 21:13). When betrayed by Judas Iscariot for 30 pieces of silver, Jesus said “It is written” (Matthew 26:24). When forsaken by every follower as He was turned over to Calvary, Jesus said “it is written” (Matthew 26:31). When Jesus called the Pharisees out as hypocrites, He said “It is written” (Mark 7:6). When Jesus endorsed the ministry of John the Baptist, He said “It is written” (Luke 7:27). When a lawyer came to Jesus and asked:

Luke 10:25-28 … Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

When Jesus spoke His parables, “It is written” was often in them (Luke 20:17). In the last recorded prayer that Jesus prayed for His Church, He prayed to the Father that the Church would know the Scripture, so that we can answer the questions, “By what authority do you do these things? Who gave you this authority?”. Jesus prayed:

John 17:14-19 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

The Christian answer to “By what authority do you do these things?” is “By the authority of the Word of God”. The Christian answer to “Who gave you this authority?” is “The Triune God our Creator”. We live by the Word of God. Not by what the world says, but by what God has said – and has supplied us in His Scripture.

We Will Not Enter The Kingdom Of God
Apart From Doing God’s Word

Jesus told this religious delegation:

Matthew 21:28-32 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

It does not matter how religious you feel that you are. Have you repented of being your own God, and have you believed in Jesus? Good works apart from following Jesus will not get you into God’s Kingdom. If you are a son of God by faith in Jesus Christ, you will work in His vineyard. If not, you will not. But Jesus was not finished. Jesus had another “it is written” for these religious people. Read it:

Matthew 21:33-44 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

The “Householder” in this parable is God the Father. He is the Owner of the Vineyard. The “Householder’s Son” is Jesus Christ our Lord. The “husbandmen” or “gardeners” were the Priests, the Pharisees, and the Scribes. The gardeners were suppose to follow the Authority of the Owner of the Vineyard. They were suppose to reach the world for Him. To expand His Kingdom. Instead, the gardeners set up their own little kingdoms, ignoring the Kingdom of God. This was the state of the Old Testament Church we call Israel.

But God was faithful. He sent His Son into Israel first, to the very Temple and the very Gardeners that should have welcomed Him. But the Priests, the Pharisees, and the Scribes, they had formed their own little kingdom. It was not the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of Religion. When the Son came, He threatened their power.

So they had Jesus killed.

Yet Jesus is the Prophesied Cornerstone of God’s Kingdom (Psalm 118:22-23; Isaiah 28:16; Luke 20:17-18). Jesus has all authority, all power, all majesty. When we stand with Him we will be invincible. But if we stand against Him, He will do as He did with that Temple crowd. Jesus foretold, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:43).

Beloved, we must get back to the Bible. We must live according to His authority, His power. We must stand with Peter, no matter how bizarre it becomes around us, and “obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). This is the only way to victory. This is the only way to save our country. Let us stand in the Word of God, and with Jesus Christ our Lord.

May God the Holy Spirit and His Scripture guide our hearts for the glory of God, and the expansion of His Kingdom. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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