[Luke 20 Part 1] The Authority with Which Jesus Spoke: In Luke 20 part 1 Jesus is found by the scribes and chief priests speaking with great authority in the temple. He has turned over the tables of the money changers and taken full liberty among the leaders who are conspiring to assassinate Him. The leaders collude to snare Jesus in His words to which He responds by giving them the parable of the vineyard, and the unjust husbandmen.
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[Luk 20:1-27 KJV] 1 And it came to pass, [that] on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon [him] with the elders, 2 And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority? 3 And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: 4 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? 5 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not? 6 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. 7 And they answered, that they could not tell whence [it was]. 8 And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. 9 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. 10 And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent [him] away empty. 11 And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated [him] shamefully, and sent [him] away empty. 12 And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast [him] out. 13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence [him] when they see him. 14 But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. 15 So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed [him]. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? 16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard [it], they said, God forbid. 17 And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? 18 Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them. 20 And they watched [him], and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor. 21 And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person [of any], but teachest the way of God truly: 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? 24 Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar’s. 25 And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s. 26 And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.
All of the events since Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem have come to pass on Tuesday of passion week until now. This has been one long day of extreme adulation, opposition and controversy. At this point Jesus is still in the temple, having driven out the money changers, and the scribes and chief priests come upon Him teaching the people and preaching the gospel. Notice that Jesus was teaching AND preaching. There is a difference. The word teach is “didasko” which means to “hold a discourse for the purpose of teaching”. Preaching on the other hand is a different form of communication. The word “preach” in the New Testament is “kerruso” meaning to trumpet aloud in this case the gospel, the Good News of the kingdom. There are times we need to be informed and there are times that we need to be inspired. You can be inspired by fear mongering to an alarmist state or you can be inspired to hope and expectation by the Good News. Today’s schools of higher learning instruct our young seminarians not to preach but rather to have a “talk” with the people. That may be a very egalitarian thing to do but it does not fit the modality of the example that Jesus gives. We need teaching AND preaching. We need genuine, bombastic, inspirational and rousing preaching done under the anointing. Teaching informs our walk with God, preaching inspires our walk with God. We need both, information and inspiration in the challenges of life. Preaching may offend the intellect, but remember that knowledge puffeth up, so let us be open not only to learn but to be inspired as well.
In verse 2 we see that Jesus teaching was different in that He spoke with authority. Even the scribes and chief priests could see the authority by which Jesus ministered and asked Him “by what authority are you doing these things?” The word “authority” here is “exousia” and it means “authority, mastery, privilege and jurisdiction”. We who preach the gospel should never do so in a timid, or insipid way. You have to know your authority. You have to speak from a posture of entitlement. You are not a simpering, anemic communicator. You speak as one ensconced in a specific jurisdiction that gives you the right to be heard, and not only to be heard but hearkened to. Edward Irving, an early Pentecostal in the church of Scotland was observed to be one who would mount the pulpit fully capable of proclaiming the verities of scripture, and it was said “in his God, more than able…” You cannot preach in a suggestive tone, as though you are unsure in anyway. You first of all must make up your mind if you actually believe what you are reading and then as one parishioner observed concerning my father, “preach as a dying man to dying men…”
In answering the scribes and chief priests, Jesus offers the men a question of His own. Did the baptism of John originate in men or in God? They knew they were in a quandary right now, because John had openly endorsed Jesus as the Messiah, the Lamb of God. If they say that John’s baptism was from heaven, then they would be compelled at least publicly to accept Jesus as the son of David and Messiah of the Jews. If on the other hand if they say that John’s ministry was not God breathed then the people would stone them for they all believed that John was a prophet. What an amazing thing that the city who would collude in the crucifixion of Christ accepted the prophetic, when the church that bears His name rejects the prophetic handed down the them in our day. In this respect the people of Jerusalem, whom the Revelator called spiritual Sodom and Gomorrah, had more respect for the gifts of God than men do today. The priests answer Jesus that they cannot answer His question, to which He promptly replies then that neither will He answer them.
Jesus then gives the parable of a man who plants a vineyard and goes into a far country. This is God Himself, planting Israel as His choice vineyard as the prophet Isaiah declared, so the priests and the people know Jesus is talking about them. The husbandmen of the vineyard left in charge are the priests, the scribes and the Pharisees. In the appointed time the own of the vineyard sends servants to gather the fruit of the vineyard. What is the fruit of the vineyard? We know that Jesus is the vine, according to John 15, but what is the fruit that God expects to see produced from the planting of Jesus in the soil of humanity, to suffer and die for the sins of the world? John the Baptist proclaimed loudly that the fruits God looks for are the fruits of repentance. When is the last time you repented about something in such a way that the change in your life was observable and remarkable? The repentance John preached meant to “abhor evil”. The repentance that Hebrew 6 says is a foundational teaching of the gospel is to “abandon evil”. Being a believer is more than feeling contrition but not doing anything about it. Being a believer results in us feeling contrition for the motions of the sin nature within us, and then prosecuting against ourselves on our own initiative a concerted effort to abandon and forsake all and anything within us in terms of conduct, conversation and behavior that is contrary to the character of Christ.
The husbandmen of the vineyard will not render up the fruits of repentance, rather they beat and finally slay the servants that God sent to them, until He finally sends His son and they kill Him as well. The crucifixion of Jesus is immanent. From the time of Elijah till now, the prophets came one by one, Isaiah, Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zecheriah, Malachi, John the Baptist and now the son of God Himself. Behold the goodness and serverity of God. He has remonstrated with the Jews for 1000 years, entreating them to accept His law and live by its precepts and they will not. For this reason the husbandmen of the vineyard will be destroyed, speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the temple that will happen in just a few short years. The chief priests, knowing that this parable was spoken against them, are aghast and say “God forbid…” Notice they didn’t say “God forbid, we repent” because they have no intention of following any other initiative but their own. They are almost persuaded as Agrippa trembled before Paul, but they will not relinquish the religious pride that they have swaddled themselves in so tightly. They would rather crucify the Miracle Worker than to lose face, or release their hold on their religious authority in any way. Because of this Jesus says they have fulfilled that which was written:
The Stone that the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. Further Jesus adds, whosoever shall fall upon the Rock that is Christ will be broken in a beneficial way, but whomsoever the Stone shall fall upon, it shall grind him to power. Grinding stone to powder is what the good kings in the line of David did when they punished the priests of Baal. They would take the altar and the graven images and execute the disobedient priests by filling their bellies and forcing down their throats the concrete of the pulverized icons and statues. The chief priests knew Jesus was calling them nothing more than idolaters, and from that very hour the only purpose overarching in their minds was how to kill Jesus and silence Him as they supposed, once and for all.
The question we might ask, is who are the others that the vineyard is loaned out to in verse 16? The husbandmen are the Jews, the prevailing religious system of Jesus’ day who are to be totally disenfranchised because they did then and to this day constitute themselves Christ rejecters. The others to whom the vineyard is now let out to are the Gentile nations, those to whom the apostle were sent to preach the gospel into the whole world. Will they likewise reject Jesus? We know from the prophets that ultimately the nations of the Gentiles will reject Christ as the Jews have done, but the difference is in that day He is not coming to suffer and die but to rule and reign for a 1000 years of peace upon the earth. The choice before us, is do we forsake our national and ethnic identities to become that one Holy Nation, called, sanctified, recreated in Christ Jesus to show forth the works thereof in godliness and righteousness?
The preaching of Jesus does not convert the leaders, it only inflames them to try to take Jesus in His own words. They send spies to Jesus to ask whether it is lawful to pay taxes. We hear this often today as well. In years past our pulpits were full of those preaching the message of tax revolt, most of those who wrote such books either went to prison or lost their livelihoods in the tax courts of our land back in the 1980’s. Jesus declines to weigh in on the matter, simply declaring render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which was God’s. What is He saying to them? He is saying to them that just as they harbor hatred and resentment against Caesar, they likewise have demonstrated no less disdain for the God they claim to serve. What about you? Have you rendered to Caesar that which was Caesar’s? We spend money every year with tax preparers to do what we can to give the government of men as little as possible. What about rendering to God that which is God? There are preachers today the people flock to because they require very, very little. They are the tax cheats of the kingdom, showing in their doctrine how the people can claim maximum benefits in the kingdom with minimum recompense in terms of living lives of sacrifice, discipleship, and abandonment to any other course than their own selfish pursuits. Let us make it our aim not to claim the merits of salvation on the cheap, but to render up full fidelity and yieldedness to the God who bought us for so high a price as the life of His only begotten Son.
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