Luke 20

Introduction

‘One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” Luke 20:1-8

The Authority Of Jesus Questioned

Now, remember that at this time it was the aggression of the religious leaders that developed the confrontation between themselves and Jesus.

Jesus had violated their system of religious regulations, He didn’t conform to their system of institutional religiosity. He didn’t fit in with their idea of who the Messiah should be.

Jesus’ bold actions in the temple stirred opposition, Luke 19:45-48. The Jewish leaders thought that the temple belonged to them, so they questioned Jesus’ right to come into it and make such drastic revisions. Jesus replied to their challenge with a question.

He asked whether John’s baptism came from God or men. They consulted among themselves and decided that it would be politically unwise to answer. Their refusal demonstrated that they were not sincerely seeking truth. Therefore, Jesus refused to answer their question.

Jesus’ Question Is A Model

Anyone can ask questions, but Jesus was the Master at asking THE question. Jesus asked the Jewish leaders an outstanding question, did John’s baptism come from God or man?

This is the question that we should ask about every religious practice. Anything that originates in man should be rejected, all that God commands should be carefully observed.

There is an easy way for us to determine whether a given teaching or activity comes from God or man. Everything that comes from God is in the Bible.

If a particular doctrine or practice is not in the Bible, it is not from God. We should verify everything we do by this simple test: Does it come from God or man?

The Parable Of The Tenants

‘He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” Luke 20:9-16

Both Matthew, Matthew 21:33-46, and Mark, Mark 12:1-12, give us a bit more detail about this parable.

Now some people like to say that this is a parable about ‘The wicked tenants’ but by the time we have finished, you’ll see that it’s more like the parable of ‘The rejected Son’.

We all know what the Pharisees and Sadducees were like, they hated Jesus and they were always plotting for a way to get rid of Him.

And there were many reasons for this but one of the main reasons they wanted Jesus out of the way was because they couldn’t or wouldn’t accept who Jesus was. They were always questioning His authority, Mark 1:21-22 / Mark 11:27-33 / Mark 11:28 / Mark 11:30.

And it’s with this final rejection of the source of the Lord’s authority that Jesus goes on to tell them the parable. This parable tells us a lot about our God, mankind and Jesus Himself. First, let’s look at what it says about our God.

This parable tells us 4 things about our God.

1. Our God is gracious, Matthew 20:1.

The Jewish leaders forgot to look back into their history and recognise just exactly who they were and where they came from.

In Ezekiel 16 we find a very graphic picture of what the nation of Israel was like when God took them under His care, Ezekiel 16:4-7. And then God goes on to describe how they grew up into something beautiful and how they were like a queen.

But what a pathetic and helpless and hopeless picture this is. These religious leaders had forgotten just who they were and where they came from.

They were God’s people and God owned them. It was God who made them into the nation that they were. It was God who cared for them when they were lying by the side of the road hopeless.

And when Mark tells us in Mark 12:1 that a man planted a vineyard, he’s telling us that, that man was God, it was God who planted the vineyard.

Notice that the vineyard was given everything it needed to do its work. It was given a wall around it to mark out its boundaries, to keep out robbers and to defend it from wild boars.

There was also a winepress in the vineyard where people would trample all over the grapes with their feet. And underneath the winepress, there was a wine vat and that’s where all the juice from the grapes would flow. And they were given a tower, and it’s in this tower that the wine would be stored and the people would also live there too.

And it’s from there, that they could look out for robbers at harvest time, that’s why it’s called a watchtower, Isaiah 5:2. The vineyard owner gave the vineyard everything it needed to make their work easy and profitable.

And notice that God didn’t just give them a task to do, He also gave them the means by which to do those tasks, 1 Peter 4:10. When Jesus is talking about those who were given talents, He said one had 5 talents another had 2 talents and yet another had one talent.

But Jesus clearly tells us in Matthew 25 that all were given a talent. But He says, you have a talent and you need to use and develop that talent the best you can because if you don’t, He will give it to someone else who will use it.

2. God trusts us enough to do the work at hand.

The owner of the vineyard went away on a journey, he went to another place. God trusted the tenants to run the vineyard by themselves while He was away.

3. Our God is patient.

Notice how the master sent servant after servant, Mark 12:2-5. We know that Jeremiah was a prophet of God who was beaten up time and time again by the so-called leaders of God’s people, Jeremiah 37:15.

Uriah is another prophet that was killed by the so-called leaders, Jeremiah 26:23. Zechariah was another prophet who was killed by the so-called leaders, 2 Chronicles 24:21.

Hebrews 11:37 tells us that many of God’s servants ‘were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated.’ These servants of God were God’s holy prophets who were treated like this.

And even after the first one was abused and ill-treated, God still didn’t get angry with them and come after them with vengeance. Oh no! He gave those tenants chance after chance, to respond to His appeals. And He does the same with people today, 2 Peter 3:9.

This was the coming of the Messiah. Notice that Jesus doesn’t call Himself a servant here, Mark 12:6-8. He deliberately removes Himself from the succession of prophets.

He says they were servants, but He is the Son, Matthew 28:18 / John 13:3 / John 17:2 / Hebrews 1:2. And so because Jesus was always being questioned about His authority, He tells them right to their face, that He is the Messiah.

They knew that He was the heir, they knew they were going to kill Him. In Matthew we find Jesus talking about the so-called spiritual leaders of the Jewish nation and he calls them, ‘blind guides! Matthew 23:16. He calls them ‘Blind fools!’ Matthew 23:17. He calls them, ‘Blind men!’ Matthew 23:19, and He calls ‘hypocrites!’ Matthew 23:23.

But the point is that the Jewish leaders were supposed to produce the fruit, and they were supposed to protect the rest of the vineyard. They were supposed to watch out for robbers but they didn’t because they didn’t do their job properly.

They rejected Him, John 1:11 / John 3:16, and they crucified Him outside the city, 1 Corinthians 2:8 / Hebrews 13:12-13.

4. God will serve justice.

It’s because of their lack of faithfulness to God, that Jesus asks these leaders the question here, Mark 12:9. These tenants pushed their luck, they pushed God’s patience.

And like this parable tells us, the world can push its luck with its disobedience and rebellion but there’s a time coming when justice will be done, 2 Peter 3:10 / Hebrews 9:27.

Our God is a patient God and He as the owner of our souls has the right to expect us to work in the field with the gifts He has given us. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness, 2 Peter 1:3.

This parable also tells us two things about mankind.

1. Mankind thinks it can get away with sin.

Sometimes in the world’s judicial system people fall through the cracks and get away with their crimes, but God’s justice system doesn’t have any cracks.

Remember God’s people hadn’t heard a word from God for 400 years, they hadn’t heard a word from any prophet until John the baptiser came along. Out of sight, out of mind, is the phrase they might have used.

They must have thought that God was too far away to do anything about the situation. Luke tells us in his account in Luke 20:9, that He was away for a ‘long time’.

And so because of that silence, they may have thought that God was dead and out of the picture. Oh, but how wrong they were and how wrong people are today who think that there’s no God or He’s a dead God, Acts 14:15 / Revelation 1:18.

2. You can lose your privileges.

This parable has the story of what was still to come. The Jews had all the privileges of being God’s chosen people. They also had many responsibilities, which went along with those privileges. But these people enjoyed all the blessings from God.

He looked after them, He provided their everyday needs, He provided wisdom and guidance, food and shelter. He took care of all their needs as we looked at earlier.

And as soon as Jesus mentioned a vineyard, the Jews would know exactly what it meant. They would cast their minds back to Isaiah 5 where Isaiah is talking about the vineyard.

The problem is this parable doesn’t mean much to us today but to a Jew Isaiah 5:1-7 was a very important part of Israel’s history, which they couldn’t ignore or forget.

The religious leaders knew exactly what Jesus was going on about. These tenants or Jewish leaders knew Jesus was speaking about them but as usual, they failed to listen and do their job.

‘When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!” Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” Luke 20:16-18

After hearing the parable, it’s clear that the people understood what Jesus was telling them, because they said, ‘God forbid!’

Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22-23, this stone, which was the keystone for the building, the most important stone of all, was being rejected. The Jewish leaders rejected Christ, their long-awaited Messiah, Isaiah 8:14-15 / Isaiah 28:16 / Daniel 2:44ff / Zechariah 12:3 / Matthew 21:42 / Romans 9:33 / 1 Peter 2:8.

The stone the Jewish leaders rejected has now become the cornerstone of a new building, the church, Acts 4:8-12. In other words, the life, death and resurrection of Christ, the very words and the teachings of Christ are the very foundation that Christianity is built. Many people would fall and stumble at the teachings of Christ.

‘The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.’ Luke 20:19

It’s also clear that the religious leaders totally understood what Jesus was saying to them, but once again, they couldn’t do anything because of their fear of the people, Luke 19:47-48.

Paying Taxes To Caesar

‘Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.’ Luke 20:20-26

This is yet another example of a group of people who are trying to trap Jesus to find any excuse to have Him put to death. What’s interesting is that we also find an example of others giving someone else a loaded gun to shoot, whilst the people who gave them the loaded gun remain in the background because they’re not brave enough to do it themselves.

It’s obvious that the parables, Luke 20:9-16, which Jesus had just finished teaching hit a nerve with the Pharisees, Mark 12:13, and as a result of this, in order to save their own skin and find an excuse to put Him to death, they wanted to find a way to humiliate Jesus in front of everyone else.

The Pharisees and the Herodians come to Jesus and use flattery as a trap, remember that the Herodians themselves taught that taxes must be paid to Rome.

The ironic thing is that they spoke the truth about Jesus, everything they described Jesus to be was true. They knew Jesus was straight-talking, they knew that He didn’t worry if people were offended when He spoke the truth and because they knew Jesus spoke against them and their teachings, they knew they had to get rid of Him because He was exposing their own hypocrisy, Matthew 21:28.

They are trying to set the trap, they’re trying to set Jesus up for the question to come but as Anne Bradstreet once said, ‘Sweet words are like honey, a little may refresh, but too much gluts the stomach.’

In simple terms, they were asking Jesus this question based on the law of Moses. In other words, does the law of Moses, teach that one should pay taxes to a foreign state.

In their theology, if Jesus said they shouldn’t pay the taxes, He would be in violation of Roman law because Israel at the time was under the rule of Rome.

But if Jesus said to pay the taxes, then they believed that He would be in violation of Old Testament law as stated in Deuteronomy 17:14-15, which was given to Israel as a self-governing nation.

Roman Tax

According to history, the Roman taxes were made up one per cent of a man’s income, much like today, the more money you earn the more tax you pay.

But we must also remember the Romans had other taxes, customs taxes, import and export taxes, toll bridges, crop taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, and special taxes when there was a war, building project or campaign to finance.

The Trap

If Jesus had said it was unlawful to give to Caesar, there’s no doubt they would have dragged Him away to face the courts, charged with treason which of course was punishable by death.

If Jesus had said, it is right to pay tax to Caesar, this wouldn’t go down well with the people who were listening because they had longed to get out of the Roman bondage.

It’s almost amusing that they actually believed they have come up with a question that Jesus has no way out of, but instead of them humiliating Jesus, Jesus will end up humiliating them.

Notice how Jesus knew what they were up to and knew what their intent really was, Matthew 22:18-22 / John 2:24-25. Interestingly, those who are in positions of leadership always seem to be hypocritical of other religious leaders who hold a different view. The very fact that they set out to trap Jesus in the first place tells us a lot about the condition of their hearts.

The coin in question was a silver denarius which was worth around a day’s wages and engraved on it was the image of Caesar who was, the Emperor of Rome.

The second commandment of the ten commandments prohibited the Jews from making any graven image in order to symbolise the worship of gods in an idolatrous manner, Exodus 20:4.

Jesus’ Response

Jesus tells them to pay the taxes regardless of whose image is on the coin. In other words, the money belongs to Caesar, therefore pay to him that which belongs to him, Mark 12:17 / Matthew 22:18-22 / Romans 13:7.

They needed to learn that just because they pay tax to Caesar, doesn’t mean that they are worshipping Caesar, and on the other hand they needed to learn that everything ultimately belongs to God, therefore, our lives are given to God who created all men in His image, Genesis 1:26-27.

Remember the Jews weren’t to pay respect to images like that on the Roman coin, and when they realised this, they actually trapped themselves concerning paying taxes to a foreign government, Jesus says they must give their lives to God and give Caesar his taxes.

Humiliated

Jesus answered the Pharisees and the Herodian’s questions but not in the way they were expecting, their trap failed, and Jesus ended up trapping them.

They came to humiliate Him, but He humiliated them, they were amazed and left because they knew they didn’t get one single thing from Jesus that they could use against Him, Matthew 22:18-22 / John 8:1-11.

As Christians, we must obey our government and pay our taxes, whilst at the same time obeying our God in whom whose image we are made.

There are genuine people out there who have genuine questions in their hearts which need to be answered honestly but there will also be those among us even today, who try to trap us with double-edged questions, may we be wise enough to recognise the trap and answer with wisdom, Proverbs 15:1-2 / Proverbs 26:4.

The Resurrection And Marriage

‘Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. Finally, the woman died too. Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” Luke 20:27-33

The Sadducees

The Sadducees were a religious sect in the time of Jesus. Their origin is not known for sure. Some think they date back to Zadock, a high priest during the time of David and Solomon. However, in all probability, they came into existence during the period between the Old and New Testaments.

We do know that they came from the leading families of the nation such as the priests, merchants, and the rich. They can well be described as aristocrats. The high priests, the most powerful members of the priesthood were mainly Sadducees, Acts 5:17.

One of the distinguishing marks of the Sadducees was their rejection of the ‘traditions of the elders’ advocated by the Pharisees. They claimed that God not only gave Moses a written law, but also an oral law that was passed down and given to the elders.

They in turn passed these oral laws on down to their successors. The Pharisees claimed the oral law was needed to interpret the written Law of Moses. They regarded these traditions as important as the Law of Moses itself.

By contrast, the Sadducees insisted that only the laws written by Moses, the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament, were the only binding laws.

In short, the main difference between the two parties was confined, on the whole, to this general rejection of Pharisaic traditions. With the Sadducees, little value was placed on the writings of the Prophets or the Psalms. They didn’t outright reject them, but they didn’t feel they were equal with the Pentateuch.

The most prominent doctrine of the Sadducees was the denial of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. They believed that the soul dies with the body, thus the extinction of life. The Sadducees said that Moses nowhere mentions anything about a soul or a resurrection.

From Acts 23:8, we learn that they didn’t believe in either angels or spirits. However, angels are mentioned several times in the writings of Moses.

In view of this, it’s difficult to see how they could harmonise this with their denial of angels. They may have regarded angels as simply God appearing in some kind of visible form.

The Sadducees also believed in the free will of man, man is responsible for his own prosperity or misfortune. They interpreted the law literally and tended to support strict justice as opposed to mercy toward the offender.

Considering their concept of no life after death it seems strange to us that they were so intent on punishing those who violated the law. Stranger yet, why would they want to be priests and religious leaders if there is no resurrection? The answer may lie in their belief that God prospered the righteous.

The Unrealistic Question

Just like the Pharisees before them, the Sadducees’ question was all about trying to trap Jesus. When you think about the actual question, the woman being widowed seven times, the possibility of this actually happening in real life is almost none, which tells us that this wasn’t a sincere question, it was a question asked to try and support their idea that there is no resurrection.

The law, which is referred to as the ‘levirate law’, was based on the principle that the family name of the dead brother is carried on throughout history, Genesis 38:8 / Ruth 3:5-6.

Moses said that if the older brother, who had a legal right to continue the family name and the birthright, died leaving his wife without children, his brother must raise up children by the dead brother’s wife, Deuteronomy 25:5-10.

They asked a question designed to show that the doctrine of the resurrection was absurd. It involved the invented case of a woman who was married to seven brothers in succession. They asked Jesus to tell them whose wife she would be in the resurrection since all of them had been married to her.

Jesus’ Response

‘Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.’ Luke 20:34-40

Their question was meant to show a supposed contradiction in the teaching of Jesus, but they didn’t know the Old Testament Scriptures or the power of God, Matthew 22:29.

Notice how Jesus speaks of two ages, ‘this age’ and ‘the age to come’, if this doesn’t tell us that there’s definitely life after death, I don’t know what will.

It’s interesting that Jesus just goes with their thought process and despite the chances of this happening, the woman being widowed six times previous, Christ, resolved the issue, not based on what Moses said, but on what God said, in other words, Christ tells them, it isn’t Moses they are quoting but God.

The Old Testament Scriptures do teach about the resurrection, whether the Jews understood this or not, they couldn’t deny what the Scriptures actually said concerning the resurrection, Job 19:25-27 / Isaiah 26:19 / Daniel 12:2.

It’s clear that the Sadducees didn’t understand that there is life after death and they certainly didn’t believe in the power of God, this was simply because of their ignorance of what the Scriptures actually teach.

Jesus confirms there will be a resurrection, but He also tells them there will be no marriage at the resurrection, just like angels don’t marry.

There will be no marriage or procreation in heaven, for procreation would have fulfilled its purpose. Procreation was for the purpose of populating the world.

Heaven, however, will be populated by those who were born again in this world. We also know there will be no death in heaven either, Luke 20:35-36 / 1 Corinthians 15:26 / Revelation 20:13-14.

Our earthly relationships will be superseded by a state wherein we will be like angels who now exist, Luke 20:36 / Hebrews 1:14 / 1 John 3:2.

Even though the Sadducees didn’t ask Him about angels, I believe Jesus mentioned the angels on purpose, as like we looked at earlier they didn’t believe in angels.

And so, we could say, they came asking one question, but Jesus actually answers two questions, He tells them they’re thinking, and doctrine is wrong on both counts. There is a resurrection and angels do exist.

The phrases ‘God’s children’ and ‘children of the resurrection’ are used to mean the same thing, it’s God’s pledge for His children, Romans 8:21 / Romans 8:23, and as we know the resurrection is absolutely fundamental to the Christian faith, Hebrews 6:1-2.

It’s important to point out that Jesus uses the Greek present progressive tense here, and in doing so, He’s pointing out the fact that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were still living at the time God made this statement and at the time Jesus referred to it, Genesis 17:2 / Genesis 26:24 / Genesis 28:21 / Exodus 3:6 / Exodus 3:15.

Jesus is saying that when a person dies, God doesn’t stop being their God and because He doesn’t stop being their God, tells us that the righteous don’t cease to exist when they die, Matthew 22:32.

In other words, the souls of people are kept by God until the resurrection, after which we all will receive our new resurrected bodies which are made for eternal purposes in heaven, John 5:28-29 / 1 Corinthians 15:35-55 / 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.

Notice it was ‘the teachers of law’ who responded to Jesus’ teaching, you can hear them say, ‘bravo, bravo, teacher’ and sniggering amongst themselves as Jesus seems to side with their theology about the resurrection and angels.

It’s also interesting that Matthew doesn’t tell us that the Sadducees were astonished at Jesus’ teaching, but he says ‘the crowds’ were astonished, Matthew 22:33.

The Pharisees were left speechless, Matthew 22:46, and from that day on, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions, Mark 12:34 / Luke 14:6.

It appears the crowds had heard the Sadducees’ theology for years, but no one really seemed to question their beliefs. The Sadducees, like the Pharisees before them, seem to disappear off the scene, no doubt feeling embarrassed and ashamed and no one else dared to ask Jesus any more questions.

As with the Pharisees, their whole religion was one of pretence, in other words, they pretended to know the Scriptures when in fact they didn’t know the Scriptures.

And so, when Jesus comes along and shows how far off their understanding of the Scriptures actually was, the crowd were astonished.

We can almost hear the relief in the crowd, ‘at last’, they cry, ‘Someone who knows what they’re talking about, Someone who actually knows and understands the Scriptures correctly’.

If we learn anything from Jesus’ dealing with the Sadducees, it’s simply this, we must know the Scriptures. You’ll be amazed at how many Christians misquote Scripture, maybe in ignorance, as I’ve done in the past, but there are others who deliberately mis-quote Scripture to defend their personal beliefs.

If you listen carefully, you will hear it from the pulpit, you will hear it on the TV and everyone says the ‘amen’ without realising that they have just been lied to, 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

I was reading the ‘Christian’ survey just the other week and found it shocking that many Christians don’t even possess a Bible, I was even more shocked that those who do own one, don’t read it, and some only read it on a Sunday morning. No wonder people are being led astray and come to believe all kinds of erroneous teachings!

It’s a sad fact that many churches don’t have any Bible study time and those who do, don’t have many members in attendance.

I’m not saying that others don’t study at home or by themselves but one of the best ways to know the Scriptures is by sitting in a Bible class, where you are encouraged to read the Bible for yourself, a Bible class where your encouraged to ask questions and share your opinion, whilst learning from others, Acts 2:42 / 2 Timothy 2:15.

Whose Son Is The Messiah?

‘Then Jesus said to them, “Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?” Luke 20:41-44

After weathering their barrage of questions, Jesus asked His opponents a question, how could the Christ be both David’s son and David’s Lord?

This question was crucial because the scribes’ objection to Jesus was that He, a mere man they thought claimed divine authority. Jesus showed by His question that the Old Testament had predicted that the Messiah would be both David’s son, human and David’s Lord, divine, Psalm 132:11 / Matthew 1:1 / Matthew 21:9.

The dilemma is how could David, call one of his descendants Lord, Psalm 110:l, when according to Jewish practice the descendant king should refer to his father or ancestor king as lord.

What Jesus argued is that Psalm 110:1 is a prophecy by David of the Christ. David didn’t make the statement concerning himself, Acts 2:34 / Hebrews 1:13.

Warning Against The Teachers Of The Law

‘While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Luke 20:45-47

An important point in Mark in the context of these events is that the common people received Jesus, Mark 12:37. They weren’t part of the religious hierarchy of the religious establishment. They weren’t puffed up by their religious training or the positions they held.

They weren’t part of the religious politics that constantly intimidated the religious leaders into conformity with the accepted traditions and practices of Judaism.

They didn’t stumble over their pride but accepted Jesus for who He was. They were the true Israel by faith who accepted Jesus as the Messiah.

Everything they did was only for public show, 3 John 9-10. They make their phylacteries wide, Matthew 23:5-7, phylacteries were small leather boxes that contained Scriptures.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘In Exodus 13:16 / Deuteronomy 6:8 / Deuteronomy 11:18, it was said to Israel concerning the teachings of the law, that they should be bound, ‘for a token upon thy head, and for frontlets between thine eyes’. In the inter-biblical period, we find the Jews converting this figure into outward fact. They took four passages adjacent to the thrice-repeated injunction, namely, Exodus 13:2-10 / Exodus 13:11-17 / Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and Deuteronomy 11:13-22, and writing them on strips of parchment, encased the folded strips in minute leather boxes. These four boxes were set on edge and fastened upon one leather base, which was placed in the middle of the forehead, and held there by a string tied round the head with peculiar knots which had a mystical meaning.’

‘Borders of the garments were considered sacred by the Jews, and the enlargement of the border was another device for ostentation and gratification of the pride of its wearer.’

We also read of how much they loved their authority, as they loved to sit in places of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogue.

This was all about the show, ‘look how important we are!’ We can almost imagine them becoming upset with people if no one greeted them at the marketplace or even took the time to call them ‘Rabbi’, which means teacher. Oh, how they loved to be seen by people, sit in positions of authority and liked to have a title.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following, concerning the word ‘Rabbi’.

‘This word literally signifies great. It was a title given to eminent teachers of the law among the Jews, a title of honour and dignity, denoting authority and ability to teach. They were gratified with such titles and wished it given to themselves as denoting superiority. Every time it was given to them it implied their superiority to the persons who used it, and they were fond, therefore, of hearing it often applied to them. There were three titles in use among the Jews, Rab, Rabbi, and Rabban, denoting different degrees of learning and ability, as literary degrees do among us.’

No one knows how they went about ‘devouring widow’s houses’, Matthew 23:14, but maybe when we think of the parable which Jesus taught about ‘Unjust Judge’ in Luke 18:1-8 we can get a glimpse of what they were doing.

Maybe they were charging a huge amount of money when some widows were seeking justice, maybe they abused the widow’s hospitability and took advantage of their kind generosity, Mark 12:41-44.

There’s nothing more impressive in some people’s eyes than a long-winded prayer, even today this still happens where Christians treat prayer like a sermon and they remind God of what He wrote in His Word.

This was all for show, Matthew 5:5, it was about impressing the people around them, ‘look how spiritual I am, look how connected to God I am!’

Because of their hypocrisy, Jesus tells them they will be judged and punished with a harsher punishment, why? As ‘God’s spiritual leaders’, they should have known better, they were full of arrogance, and pride, and they pretended to be something they weren’t.

And if this isn’t a lesson for the churches’ spiritual leaders today, I don’t know what is. We need to be careful that opinion and tradition don’t become law, 1 Corinthians 4:6, we need to be careful how we treat the venerable among us, James 1:27, and more importantly, we should pretend to be something we’re not.

Jesus used religious leaders to take Himself to the cross since the leaders had fallen from God. Though the Jews could not actually carry out the death sentence, they were the ones who called on the Romans to crucify Jesus.

Peter later identified them as the ones who had to carry the blame for crucifying the Son of God. Leaders would do well to continually check their motives by the word of God.

God’s leaders must continually caution themselves with God’s word in order to guard themselves against working against Him.

Go To Luke 21

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