What Would Jesus Teach [WWJT]… if someone publicly asked Him a crucial religious question, a question that if left unanswered could result in the loss of a soul? Would He attempt to study in private with the querist, hoping to avoid a public confrontation, but yet capitalizing on the possibility of teaching a lost soul? Would He seize the opportunity to respond to the inquiry, teaching the lost person but at the same time demonstrating His superior knowledge of the subject and impressing other hearers for good? WWJT? The correct answer is, “None of the above” (at least not in the case of the focus text)!

“Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?’ But Jesus answered and said to them, ‘I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John——where was it from? From heaven or from men?’ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” He will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “From men,” we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus and said, ‘We do not know.’ And He said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’” (Matthew 21.23-27).

In his book, Jesus the Master Respondent [a book from which many of these thoughts have arisen], James D. Bales states the following: The question of authority is fundamental, for unless it is settled, no other questions in religion can be settled. Unless Christ speaks with authority, there is no reason for us to accept His teaching concerning God, man, or salvation. If you see that your discussion of a religious difference is getting nowhere, it may be that it is because you are appealing to one authority and they are appealing to another. In such a case it will be necessary to settle the question of authority before these other questions can be settled. If you are proving something by the Bible, and they are proving their position by their feelings, you will get nowhere until the basic difference of authority is settled.”

It was not the case that the question did not need answering; neither was it the case that Jesus could not answer the question. The plain facts point out that Jesus refused to answer the question (a fact that astonishes some people “out of measure”). Some reason or reasons other than ignorance or stubbornness moved Jesus to respond the way He did, that is, by refusing to answer a question based on the refusal of the querists to answer His question. In considering the subject What Would Jesus Teach, we will seek to understand why Jesus may have responded the way He did and hence, determine how we ought to respond under these and similar circumstances. After all, merely knowing what Jesus would do is not enough; however, by knowing what He did, we can determine how we ought to act and thereby please our Creator.

As today’s message ends and we posture ourselves to move forward in the study, understand that Jesus didn’t always act the way those who stereotype Him would lead us to believe. Rather, Jesus was (as Bales stated it) The Master Respondent. Let’s strive to lift Him up by imitating Him!


1. Where was Jesus when He as asked the question in today’s focus text?

2. Was this a public or a private setting? Might the setting have anything to do with His response?

3. Is the question of Jesus’ authority a crucial question? To the Christian, what question can be more important? If His authority is not from heaven, what of the Christian religion?

4. Was Jesus always the stereotyped person He is made to be in the media? How else did He differ from that which He is sometimes portrayed to be?