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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Luke 20

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Question and Answer with Jesus

A. By what authority?

1. (Luk 20:1-2) The religious and political leaders question Jesus.

Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, "Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?"

a. The chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him: Jesus didn't look for these great debates with the religious leaders. He wanted to teach the people and tell them about God's good news. But the questioners came to Him, and He was more than able to handle them.

b. Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Jesus showed great courage by boldly entering Jerusalem and driving out the corrupt merchants from the temple courts. Now the religious leaders want to know what right He thinks He has to do such things.

2. (Luk 20:3-8) Jesus answers their question with another question.

But He answered and said to them, "I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: The baptism of John; was it from heaven or from men?" And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet." So they answered that they did not know where it was from. And Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."

a. The baptism of John; was it from heaven or from men? By replying with this question, Jesus wasn't evading the question of the religious leaders. Instead, He uses the question to explain who He is and to expose the hypocrisy of the leaders. If John was from God, then he was right in proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah-and if this is true, then Jesus had all authority.

b. They answered that they did not know where it was from: This response shows they were not sincere seekers of truth. They cared more about winning points in an argument than in knowing the truth.

i. "If you do not recognize authority when you see it, He said in effect, no amount of arguing will convince you of it." (Geldenhuys)

c. If we want answers from Jesus, we must deal rightly with the truth that has already been revealed. These men knew that John said Jesus was the Messiah, and were not willing to accept it.

B. The parable of the tenant farmers.

1. (9-16a) A parable about a landowner and his tenants.

Then He began to tell the people this parable: "A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.' But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.' So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others."

a. A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers: This sort of tenant farming relationship was a common practice in Jesus' day, especially in Galilee. Archaeologists have discovered records of this same sort of dispute between landowners and tenant farmers.

i. "In a day when title was sometimes uncertain, anyone who had had the use of land for three years was presumed to own it in the absence of an alternative claim." (Morris)

b. Jesus spoke to a Jewish audience, who would know that the vineyard is used in the Old Testament as a picture of Israel (Isaiah 5:1-7). In this parable, the tenants (the vinedressers) represented the religious leader the Jewish people.

c. The vinedressers didn't buy the vineyard, nor did they make it. They were allowed to work it by a generous owner -yet they turned against the owner, and one day would answer for it.

i. This parable tells us that God, the owner of all, is more patient with rebels than we would ever be, but that there is a final day of reckoning.

d. This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours: This shows the foolishness of fallen man, thinking that if they kill the Son, they can take the owner's inheritance!

e. This parable tells us that Jesus knew He was the Son-the Son of God-and that He knew that He would be killed soon.

2. (16b-19) Jesus applies the parable.

And when they heard it they said, "Certainly not!" Then He looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone'? Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder." And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people; for they knew He had spoken this parable against them.

a. The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone: Jesus instructs them from the "Hosanna Psalm" (Psalm 118:22-28), because the Messiah has been officially presented to Israel at the Triumphal Entry. The hostility of the Jewish leaders shows that this Messianic stone is being rejected, even if He was initially greeted with hosannas.

b. Stone … chief cornerstone: Jesus is often likened unto a stone or a rock in the Bible. He is the rock of provision that followed Israel in the desert (1 Corinthians 10:4). He is the stone of stumbling (1 Peter 2:8). He is the stone cut without hands that crushes the kingdoms of this world (Daniel 2:45).

c. Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder: Anyone who comes to Jesus will be broken of their pride and self-will, but those who refuse to come will be crushed by Christ in judgment.

C. God and Caesar.

1. (Luk 20:20-22) The Pharisees try to entrap Jesus.

So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor. Then they asked Him, saying, "Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: "Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

a. That they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor: Public opinion had kept them from laying hold of Jesus. Now the enemies of Jesus try to turn the tide of public opinion against Him by making Jesus appear to side with the Roman government.

b. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Since 6 A.D. the Jews were forced to pay taxes directly into the emperor's treasury. Some Jewish patriots (such as the Zealots) refused, not wanting to recognize Roman rule as legitimate. Most others grudgingly paid it.

c. This seemed to put Jesus on the horns of a dilemma. If He agreed the tax should be paid, He seems to deny the sovereignty of God over Israel, and will lose popular support. If He says that it should not be paid, He declares Himself an enemy of Rome, which branded Him as a revolutionary and put His life in danger.

2. (Luk 20:23-26) Jesus answers their question.

But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, "Why do you test Me? Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?" They answered and said, "Caesar's." And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent.

a. Whose image and inscription does it have? Essentially, Jesus said "You recognize Caesar's civil authority when you use his coins, therefore you are obliged to pay him the taxes he asks for."

i. As Jesus holds the coin, it lay on the very hand that would soon be pierced by the government of Caesar. Jesus understood this very well.

b. Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's: Because we take advantage of the benefits of government, we are obliged to submit to government, as long as it does not infringe on our service to God.

i. "Jesus is saying that we are citizens of heaven and earth at the same time." (Morris)

c. And to God the things that are God's: Had the Jews rendered God His due, they would have never had to render Caesar anything. The fact that they were under Roman domination was due to their own departure from the Lord. The blessings and curses of the Mosaic Law said that an obedient Israel would be a free Israel.

d. Just as it is important to render therefore to Caesar, we must also render to God the things that are God's. The coin belonged to Caesar because his image was stamped on it. We should give ourselves to God because His image is stamped on us.

i. Give the coin to Caesar, but give your life to God. It may be fitting to die for your country, but only God is worth living for.

ii. Jesus' answer tells us that Caesar does not have all authority. There are things that should be rendered to God alone. When the State treads on this ground that belongs to God, we are duty-bound to obey God before the State.

e. It doesn't matter how good an answer you give, wicked people will still pervert your good words-as they did to Jesus. In Luke 23:2, they accused Jesus of forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar-when He actually said just the opposite!

D. A question about the resurrection.

1. (Luk 20:27-33) The Sadducees ask Jesus a ridiculous question.

Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: "Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second took her as wife, and he died childless. Then the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and died. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife."

a. The Sadducees were well educated, sophisticated, influential and wealthy. They did not believe in immortality, spirits or angels.

i. Morris on the Sadducees: "They were the conservative, aristocratic, high-priestly party, worldly minded and very ready to cooperate with the Romans, which, of course, enabled them to maintain their privileged position."

b. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? Their question is absurd; it is similar to asking, "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" or "did Adam have a belly-button?" An absurd question isn't valid just because it is directed to God.

2. (Luk 20:34-36) Jesus corrects their misunderstanding of resurrection life by showing it is life of an entirely different order.

And Jesus answered and said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection."

a. Neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore: The Sadducees thought that if there was a such thing as resurrection, it was just this same life lived forever. But in the age to come, our lives will be lived on a completely different principle, in a dimension that we can't imagine.

b. We can't take our present relationships and just figure they will be the same in heaven. On earth, human relationships are largely a matter of time and place (a man can be a son, then an adult, then a husband, then a father, and so on); but in heaven, all that changes.

i. We know it won't be the same as what we know on earth, but we can't say for sure what it will all be like in heaven-other than to know that we won't be disappointed.

3. (Luk 20:37-40) Jesus proves the resurrection from the Scriptures.

"But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord 'the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him." Then some of the scribes answered and said, "Teacher, You have spoken well." But after that they dared not question Him anymore.

a. He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him: If Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not continue to live, God would not say that He is their God, speaking in the present tense. He would have to say that He was their God.

E. Using a question, Jesus warns the religious leaders.

1. (Luk 20:41-44) Jesus asks a question: how can the Messiah be both the Son of David and the Lord of David?

And He said to them, "How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David? Now David himself said in the Book of Psalms: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool."' Therefore David calls Him 'Lord'; how is He then his Son?"

a. How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David? When the scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees questioned Jesus, they tried to make Him look bad or trap Him. Jesus didn't do the same with His questions to them. Instead, He got to the heart of the matter: "do you really know who I am?"

i. Jesus tested their notion that they already knew all about the Messiah. He asked them to consider that they may not know everything about the Messiah, and may have something to learn.

b. Therefore David calls Him 'Lord'; how is He then his Son? Jesus is not only the Son of David (a popular Messianic title) He is also the Lord of David. As Revelation 22:16 says, He is both the root and offspring of David.

2. (Luk 20:45-47) Jesus warns about the hypocrisy of the scribes.

Then, in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, "Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation."

a. Who desire to go around in long robes: The scribes were men of leisure, who watched while others worked. Love greetings: They demanded recognition from others for their standing with God. The best seats: They demand the "perks" of status and privilege.

b. Devour widows' houses: In that day, a Jewish teacher could not be paid for teaching-but he could receive gifts. Apparently, many scribes used flattery and manipulation to get big gifts from those who could least afford to give them-such as widows.

i. The Jews of Jesus' day taught that teachers were to be respected almost as God; they said that they deserved more honor and respect than any other people in life did. They taught that the greatest act someone could do is give money to a teacher. Of course, it was the teachers themselves who taught this!

c. For a pretense make long prayers: The scribes thought they were more spiritual because of their long prayers. But Morgan rightly said that when a man is away from his wife, and the journey is short, the letters are short-but the farther he is from his wife, the longer the letters become. Morgan said that some people must be a long way from God because their prayers are so long!

d. These will receive greater condemnation: The scribes represent a complete contrast to the picture of how a disciple should live-as a servant, as a child, as one carrying a cross. Jesus said we should notice what they do, as well as what they say-and especially that we should notice their destiny.

e. The scribes were experts at projecting a religious image, but a religious image before man isn't enough. Are you really a servant of Jesus Christ, or are you more like one of these scribes?

© 2000 David Guzik-No distribution beyond personal use without permission

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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