"Meanderings in Mark"
Series on Mark, Lesson 44

By What Authority?

Read: Mark 11:27-33

Text: (Mark 11:28 KJV) And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?

Theme: The truth about Christ is revealed to all who seek it, and concealed from all who reject it.


QUESTION - What was the motive of Jesus' questioners?

ANSWER - cf. Mark 11:18

QUESTION - What were they referring to by "these things" in verse 28?

ANSWER - Specifically, Christ's actions of cleansing the temple.

ANSWER - Generally, Christ's ministry and teaching as a whole.

QUESTION - Why didn't Jesus answer them?

QUESTION - Are there times when we should not answer questions that are put to us? Examples?

QUESTION - What was Jesus trying to do with His counter-question?

QUOTE (John MacArthur) - "Christ was in effect forcing the men to carry out their roles as religious guides for the people and to go on record with an evaluation of both John's and His ministries."

QUESTION - What does the response of the leaders say about them?

QUESTION - What does the response of the leaders say about their attitude toward "truth?" (Any parallels to society today?)

QUESTION - Since they cared nothing for truth, what was their authority?

NOTE - Perhaps Jesus was exposing their own lack of authority to question Him?

QUESTION - What are the ramifications for society when there is no concern for truth?

QUESTION - Do we see this in America as a nation? Examples?

QUESTION - What are the ramifications for an individual when he / she has no concern for truth? Examples?

QUESTION - Is "authority" important to the church today? Why?

QUESTION - If someone were to ask you today, "By what authority do you live your live," how would you answer?


I. It is a valid question.

A. It was valid then.

(Who are you to do these things in the temple?)

B. It is valid now.

1. Christianity costs. (Who Jesus is determines if it is worth it to be a Christian or not.)

(Luke 14:26 KJV) If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

ILLUS. The incident at Jonestown points out the tragedy of following the wrong man.

ILLUS. The incident with the Heaven's Gate cult in California points to the tragedy of having a wrong belief-system.

Paul points out how tragic if Jesus is not who He says He is, "(1 Cor 15:19 KJV) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

2. There are thousands of religions. (Who Jesus is determines whether His is the right one!)

NOTE - He made it exclusive, saying His was the only way: (John 14:6 KJV) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

(Acts 4:12 KJV) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

It's ALL or NOTHING with Him.

ILLUS. I recently flew to Minneapolis on business. I had to make a decision whether I believed the plane could get me there or not. I could have chosen to play safe, and keep one foot on the ground, and one in the plane. Would that have worked? NO, it's all or nothing. You're either in the plane or not. So with Christ. We're either IN CHRIST or not. How important, then, to know who Jesus is, and what authority backs His claims.

3. Sin is attractive. (Who Jesus is determines whether it is something to enjoy or flee.)

Paul told Timothy to "flee youthful lusts…"

(Heb 11:24-25 KJV) By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

ILLUS. Satan is described as an "angel of light…"

4. Jesus claimed to be the door. (Who Jesus is determines whether that door is really standing open for you.)

SONG "They must hear the words of life, ONLY WE can share…"

II. However, it was not asked for a valid reason.

A. Their motive had already been stated. (cf. 11:18)

B. Their interest in the things of God had already been demonstrated.

1. They rejected John's message.

2. John had pointed to Jesus.

3. Thus, they had already rejected Jesus, too.

C. They had decided already.

III. Jesus did not answer their question because they were not seeking an answer, but rather seeking further reason to reject Him.

A. He never turned away a genuine seeker.

ILLUS. Woman with issue of blood - unwilling to publicly profess initially, but still a genuine seeker.

ILLUS. Zacchaeus - despised by men, dishonest, thief, yet a genuine seeker.

ILLUS. Bartimaeus - poor, outcast, beggar, yet a genuine seeker.

ILLUS. Thief on the cross - wasted his life, yet a genuine seeker.

ILLUS. Man in Mark 9, "Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief." Didn't understand it all, but he sought, and Jesus responded.

(Prov 8:17 KJV) I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

(Jer 29:13 KJV) And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

(Luke 11:9 KJV) And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

(John 6:37 KJV) All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

ILLUS. I was saved when 12 years old. Didn't understand it all, but I was seeing, and He didn't turn me away.

ILLUS. Charlie Sprouse, dear friend of mine, was saved while sitting on the seat of his bulldozer thinking about things he had heard. He was a drunk, a criminal, a moonshiner and a bum… yet he sought, and Jesus responded.

Wherever you are, if you are seeking, Jesus says, (Rev 3:20 KJV) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

"I hear they welcome voice
That calls me, Lord, to Thee
For cleansing in Thy precious blood
That flowed on Calvary.
I am coming, Lord!
Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary!"

B. He concealed the truth from these rejecters though.

ILLUS. Truth was concealed from Israel as a nation when they rejected Christ:

"… blindness in part is happened to Israel…" (Romans 11:25

QUOTE (Warren Weirsbe) - "God does not teach us new truth if we have rejected the truth He has already revealed." (John 7:17 KJV) If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.



(Mark 11:28 KJV) And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?

(Mat 28:18 KJV) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

(Mat 28:18 NIV) Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.


(Mark 11:28 KJV) And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?

(Mat 28:18 NIV) Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright © 1998 William E. Johnson.