“Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. ‘By what authority are you doing these things?’ they asked. ‘And who gave you this authority?'” (Matthew 21:23 NIV84)
In reading the gospels, it’s a bit tough to determine exactly what things might have been done on each day because the gospels have the events running together until you get to Thursday’s passover celebration. But if we use the Gospel of Matthew as our guide, it seems as though on Tuesday the temple takeover was not complete. Jesus had successfully gotten the merchants out of the temple, but the religious leaders, by Tuesday, were armed and ready for some theological and philosophical debates with Jesus. So, while He had taken over the temple to teach the people the word of God He was still challenged from several fronts. First, in our verse for today, the chief priests and elders were challenging Jesus’ authority to do what He did (take over the temple). Jesus amazingly turned their question into one of His own. He asked them, “John’s baptism — where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?” (Matthew 21:25). By this one simple question He revealed their duplicity. If they said from Heaven, then they would have to face the next question, “Why didn’t you believe his message and be baptized?” They would have had to claim that the authority of John’s ministry came from heaven. If they said from man, they would be claiming that thousands who were touched by John’s ministry were not touched by the hand of God. The short is, Jesus trapped His trappers.
He then told the parable of the two sons and the parable of the unfaithful tenants to show the that the duplicity of the religious leaders was duly noted by Almighty God. In both parables they were faced with the glaring accusation that they missed the coming of the kingdom of God because of their disobedience and deadly self-righteous attitudes. Once again in Chapter 22, He hit the religious leaders with the parable of the wedding feast thrown by a king for his son, only to have the invited guests refuse to come. After receiving those jabs from Jesus, the Pharisees challenged Jesus on the legitimacy of paying taxes to Caesar. In a startling response of, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” (Matt. 22:21) Jesus silenced the Pharisees. In the next section of chapter 22 Jesus was challenged by the Sadducees about how there could be a resurrection of the dead if a woman might have seven husbands when she got to heaven. Jesus utterly silenced the Sadducees by showing how they were not being true interpreters of the Scriptures. Jesus restated the words of the Old Testament that God “is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” God IS the God of Men who have been dead for centuries. How? Because there IS life after death. Last, the experts of the law came and tested Jesus on what the greatest commandment is. Jesus masterfully quoted Deuteronomy and said, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart … and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus completely silenced the religious leaders of every sect of Judaism and took over the temple (at least for a day or so).
I go through all that with you to hopefully overwhelm you with how important it is to Jesus that the Word of God be truthfully taught and preached to His people. He physically cleansed the temple so that he could have the undivided attention of the people at the temple. He wanted God’s word to be clearly taught in God’s house before His crucifixion. Second, He spiritually silenced the false teachers so that the people would hear God’s truth in its purest form. To this day God’s word has been preserved so that we might come to know Jesus as the Way, Truth and the Life.