“Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” (Matthew 21:27)

Here Jesus is responding to chief priests of the institutional temple who were questioning Jesus' authority. When they had asked Jesus from what authority Jesus was speaking, Jesus asked them where John the Baptist's baptism came from. Following this we find in Matthew:
They discussed it among themselves and said, If we say, 'From heaven', he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'From men'— we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We don't know.” (Matt. 21:26)

Why did Jesus say this?

Because they were not willing to admit publicly that John the Baptist's baptism (and teachings) were from God, Jesus was not going to state to them that his authority also came from God.

This response by the institutional temple priests is critical to the time and circumstances surrounding Jesus’ teachings, Jesus’ relationship with John the Baptist, and how John the Baptist is key to our understanding of who Jesus was. How so?

While many among sectarian institutions might try to deny that Jesus was actually the disciple of John the Baptist, this is confirmed in the priests and elders' statement, and Jesus’ response. It is also confirmed by the fact that John baptized Jesus.

From their statements, we can see that John the Baptist was an esteemed teacher in those times, and was widely recognized as a prophet.

And Jesus' statements infer, in fact, that Jesus was teaching the same teachings as his teacher, John the Baptist. These, in fact, are the same teachings of all the prophets.

The Prophets were spiritual teachers

While many sectarian teachers would have us believe that the prophets merely “prophetized” - or foretold events of the future, primarily Jesus' coming: This is a blatant twisting of the content of the Bible, and an attempt to downplay the importance of the teachings of the prophets.

If this were true, this would mean that for thousands of years, no one could be saved. They would have us believe that all the billions of people had to await Jesus’ birth and suffering on the cross in order to have salvation. This indeed is a twisting of all the essential teachings of Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, Job, Jacob and all the other representatives of God who came to teach humanity to love and serve God.

The sectarian teachers of today want us to ignore all the great teachings of these prophets in order to focus on Jesus' crucifixion to get salvation. They want us to ignore Moses' teaching:
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deut. 6:5)
Which Jesus quoted in his teachings, adding: "This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:38)

Are we automatically saved by Jesus' crucifixion?

Why would Jesus bother to quote Moses and other prophets if their teachings were not important? Why would he even bother to teach if all we had to do was stare at a depiction of Jesus suffering on the cross every and be saved?

This teaching that we are automatically saved by Jesus' "dying" on the cross is simply ludicrous. It assumes that every other teaching of the Bible is moot. It assumes that a person does not have to change. It assumes that a person can continue to live his or her self-centered life and still be saved after they make that declaration that they are saved - essentially wiping their sins off on Jesus.

This has nothing to do with Jesus' teachings. It has nothing to do with the examples of all the lives of the prophets, and their teachings. If they did, why didn't Jesus just come out and say "Just wait until I am crucified and then just stare at the cross in church on Sunday and you'll be saved."?

Rather, he said:
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
The teachings of Jesus and all the prophets are the same, and it is these teachings that can save us - assuming we hear them and we make the necessary changes to comply with them. It is coming to know, love and take shelter of the Supreme Being that will save us.

Following the teachings of Jesus and the prophets, including John the Baptist, means to recognize that God is the most important person in the universe, not me. It means to give up our self-centered lives and become God-centered. It means to love and serve God with all our hearts.

This requires a change of heart and a change of consciousness. Something that Jesus and all the prophets were trying to teach us.