The leaders at the temple questioned Christ’s authority:
They returned once more to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple area, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders approached him and said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do them?”
Jesus said to them, “I shall ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me.”
They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say, ‘(Then) why did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?” – they feared the crowd, for they all thought John really was a prophet.
So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” Then Jesus said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.” -Mark 11:27-33, NAB
The temple leaders found themselves in a difficult situation. Jesus asked them a question that they were afraid to answer. By comparing His authority to that of John the Baptist’s, the leaders were forced to either acknowledge or deny both of their authorities. When they did not answer, neither did Jesus.
This verse tells us that the temple leaders, some of them anyway, thought that John the Baptist was truly a prophet of God. To deny that would have stirred the crowd, so they dared not to deny it. At the same time, they obviously questioned Jesus’ authority but did not want to deny John the Baptist in the process.
We find ourselves in similar situations today. Can we claim to be Catholic without fully accepting all of its teachings? Doing so would be hypocritical. We cannot say that we follow the Church yet deny its teachings.
If we believe in Christ’s authority, and the authority that He delegated to the Church, then we must accept the Sacraments. We must believe that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. We must accept the power of forgiveness found in the Confessional. We must have faith in the power of the Anointing of the Sick. You cannot believe in one without the other.
Even today, Christ’s authority is questioned, especially by modern media. For 2,000 years, it has been debated in the public square. Regardless of what “scholars” may say, the decision to accept Christ’s authority is completely up to us. What do you believe? Do you accept Christ’s authority over your life?