27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”
29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”
31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)
33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
12:1Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
6 “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
7 “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:
“ ‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
11 the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away. 
Jesus has a fascinating exchange with the teachers of the law and the elders. They want to know where He gets the authority to say and do the things that He is saying and doing. Instead, He questions them about John’s baptism, whether it was from God. When they claim that they don’t know where it came from, Jesus refuse to tell them where His authority came from.
What’s going on here? Is Jesus just being petulant and difficult? Is He playing a game with them?
It has to do with being able to handle the truth. Note the deliberation of the teachers of the law and the elders. Their decision to claim ignorance was not based on truth, but on how the answer would be perceived, either by Jesus or by the people. Their handling of truth was shaped by others rather than reflecting the truth itself.
Jesus no doubt surmised that since they couldn’t properly handle the truth of John’s baptism, they certainly would not be able to handle the truth regarding His authority.
How do I handle difficult truth? Is my handling of truth shaped more by the truth itself, or how I will be perceived by the people around me? Can I handle uncomfortable truth? Can I handle difficult truth about myself and my need for a Savior? About my failure to follow Him as I should? Can I handle the truth about Jesus and the life that He calls me to? Or is my use of the truth shaped by how I will be perceived by others, whether I will be accepted and approved?
Lord Jesus, You are truth and Your Word is truth. Give me grace to accept Your truth, even when it points to things that are uncomfortable or convicting. Lead me to look to You always for truth.
What is the Word leading you to pray about today?
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