Final Thoughts on Mark 11:27-33
Then they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him. And they said to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?” But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John–was it from heaven or from men? Answer Me.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’ “–they feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed. So they answered and said to Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” NKJV
Rather than seeking truth, the Jewish religious leaders were afraid of losing their earthly power and influence. They refused to acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah and that His power and authority was divine. There greed and fear caused them to suppress the truth and reject the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. In contrast to this is the boldness of John the Baptist who sought truth and was concerned about pleasing God rather than promoting himself. The Jewish religious leaders also feared the response of the people. The fear of God is not ignorant superstition, but the fear of people can lead to the suppression of truth and hiding our heads in the sand from the obvious presence and power of God.
The enemies of Christ do not question his teaching (which they had done many times before), but his calling and commission. The evidence from the miracles was that Christ was the Messiah. But they insisted that because he did not have their votes he was not authentic. Christ brings John into this to show they were not worthy of their authority and that they had questioned a holy prophet of God. Since John had pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God, it was impossible to ascribe him authority without ascribing authority to Christ. The Pharisees did not care about truth, but about maintaining their own tyranny. So all the wicked, though they like to be perceived as pursuing truth, shut the gate of truth when it opposes their wicked desires. John Calvin