The Source of Jesus' Authority (21:23-27)

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).

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