THE FIRST QUESTION
The high priest, the authority of the religion, and the elders, the authority of the community, combined together to raise the first question, a question concerning the source of Jesus’ authority. "By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?" (21:23). In other words, they asked, "What is your source? Is your authority authentic? Where did a little man like you get this authority?" We should not consider such questions lightly. In Christianity today people are always asking such questions: "What about his origin? Is that fundamental? Is that sound?" What they really mean, and sometimes they say it in so many words, is this: "From what seminary has he graduated? Where was he ordained, and by whom was he ordained?"
The Lord Jesus, of course, was so wise. He said, "I also will ask you one question, which if ye tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?" (21:24-25). He really put them on the spot. Then those learned ones with the highest attainments reasoned among themselves saying, "If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why then did ye not believe him?" (21:25). What they meant was that if they endorsed John, they would have to receive Jesus, because John testified of Him and was His forerunner. If they accepted John, they must also accept Jesus. Thus, they said in effect, "We cannot say that. If we do, we will fall into a trap." Then they said, "But if we shall say, From men; we fear the multitude, for all hold John as a prophet" (21:26). Eventually they decided that the best solution would be to tell a lie. So they turned back to Jesus and said, "We know not." But the Lord Jesus knew that they knew. He said in effect, "You know, but you won’t tell Me. You say you don’t know, but that is a lie. The truth is that you won’t tell Me. And since you won’t tell Me, neither will I tell you. You lie, but I will not lie." Jesus is really Lord. He is really worthy of our worship. Who could answer a question in this way but Jesus?
Following this answer of the Lord to the chief priests and elders of the people, He proceeded to speak to them in parables. I will just refer briefly to the last two. In the second parable the Lord indicated that He was there for God’s building (21:33-46). They had spoken to Him in a foolish and sinful way, but in spite of that the Lord Jesus proceeded to unveil something of God’s revelation, of God’s eternal purpose. In this parable He indicated first that He is the Son of God. God sent His Son unto them, and this Son is the heir who will receive all God’s inheritance. What they were doing was rejecting this heavenly and divine heir, the Son of God. Secondly, the Lord Jesus told them that in rejecting such a One, they were rejecting the very cornerstone for God’s building. He said in other words, "You do not know what you are talking about. You do not know what you are doing. You do not know whom you are rejecting. I am here as the Son of God, rejected by you; but eventually what you reject will become the headstone of the corner." For what purpose? For God’s building. Even in the Lord’s answer to such foolish ones, He indicated that He was for God’s building.
Following this, He spoke the parable of the wedding feast (22:1-14). The Son of God is the cornerstone, and the Son of God is also the Bridegroom. Thus, the Lord revealed two marvelous things—the building and the wedding feast. The building requires the feast, and the feast is for the building. The more we feast upon Jesus, the more we will be built into His building. The Lord’s answer in these parables is so full of meaning. By referring to I Corinthians 3 and I Peter 2, we see that the feasting is for the growth, and the growth is for the building. Therefore, we all must feast at the wedding feast of Jesus that we may grow, and as we grow we will become proper material for the building. He is the chief cornerstone for the building, and we are the many stones. We become the stones by feasting on Him. God’s intention with the Lord Jesus is simply the building and the feast, the enjoyment and the building up.
(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)