Matthew 21 - IVP New Testament Commentaries
The Source of Jesus' Authority
The reader who has witnessed in the text of Matthew miracles such as the cursing of the fig tree understands that Jesus' authority is from God (vv. 21-22); the reader who has seen the fate of John the Baptist, an earlier representative of God, also recognizes what Jesus will face (compare 21:32, 38-39). The political leaders here are not, however, privy to the information Matthew's audience shares. Like many contemporary politicians-and the rest of us-Jesus' adversaries were more interested in making their opponent, in this case Jesus, look bad than in uncovering further truth about his claims. Undoubtedly they view Jesus as a "populist" (see Rhoads and Michie 1982:82), the sort of demagogue aristocrats normally despised (as in Isoc. Nic. 48 and Or. 2).