“They came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to Him, and began saying to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?” And Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.” They began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From men’?”—they were afraid of the people, for everyone considered John to have been a real prophet. Answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.””Mark 11:27-33 NASB
The chief priests, scribes and the elders enjoyed their power. They suffered from self-righteousness. Many dictators that desire to control others have this same trait.
They also were not concerned about the truth at all. John the Baptist boldly proclaimed that Jesus is the Messiah. The King that was to usher in God’s Kingdom on earth.
They questioned Jesus’s authority. They questioned the King. He answered them in His wisdom: I will tell you, but first tell me, by whose authority was John sent. This question cut straight to the issue. We have a glimpse into the thoughts of these control hungry priests. They could not admit that John’s baptism was heaven because that would prove that Jesus is the King. They could not say that John was a false prophet because the people held John as a prophet.
We see here something very interesting. Those who have an agenda do not care about truth. Truth is inconvenient. This is hard for us to grasp who love truth. We want to believe that everyone loves truth. Those that seek to control others do not care about truth but only to control truth.