“I am also going to ask you one question,” Jesus replied to them, “and if you answer it I will tell you what authority I have for what I do. John’s baptism, now, did it come from Heaven or was it purely human?” At this they began arguing among themselves, “If we say, ‘it came from Heaven’, he will say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe in him?’ If on the other hand we should say, ‘It was purely human’—well, frankly, we are afraid of the people—for all of them consider John was a prophet.”
They were on the spot and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him; if we say ‘humans,’ we’re up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet.” They decided to concede that round to Jesus. “We don’t know,” they answered. Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.
They stepped away and debated among themselves, saying, “How should we answer this? If we say from heaven, he will say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you respond to John and believe what he said?’ But if we deny that God gave him his authority, we’ll be mobbed by the people, for they’re convinced that John was God’s prophet.”
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