A Q & A with Jesus

Luke 20 SCC 7/17/16



The leadership tries to catch Jesus in error in order to defy his authority and so they ferociously test him. Jesus responds by raising questions of his own. Unable to trap Jesus, he embarrasses and silences them.



Jesus authority is challenged 1-2

He was teaching and proclaiming good news while being confronted by religious leader’s v 1. Religious authority is always sensitive to anyone threatening their authority. Most of church history is about who gets to dispense the grace of God to people. What authority does Jesus have to do this teaching in public, in the temple and specifically who it is that has given him this authority v 2?

NB: I was also asked this question by a priest on a plane. I had finished teaching groups the Bible. He then asked whose authority sanctioned something like that. True to form, religious leaders are all about authority. Notice this proves that Jesus was not a Synagogue Rabbi or they would not have asked this question. Jesus operated outside of any system or organization. He was not a Pharisee, Sadducee, priest or elder. He never held a position in any organization. He never joined anything. He operated on his own under God’s authority. That will probably prove to be the most impacting way to do ministry. The more one’s ministry is tied to a label, the more people will label you rather than learn from you.


Jesus addresses their challenge 3-8

Jesus had authority from God (Luke 5:24; Matthew 28:18) but that was what they expected Him to say. Then they could counter by saying no Jewish organization recognizes your authority. So He asked them, was the baptism of John from heaven or from men v 3? This declared that John got his authority from God, and this revealed that Jewish leaders got their authority from men rather than God. They were afraid to answer because the people were convinced that John was a prophet v 6. Typical of institutional religious leaders, their only willing to say what the people were willing to hear (cf. v 19). Faced with a dilemma and no good public answer they opt out professing ignorance and agnosticism v 7. In turn, Jesus responds likewise. He will not answer their question v 8.

1. Jesus authority will always be challenged. That is the nature of the spiritual battle.

2. Authority comes from direct revelation from God. There was no authority in religious organizations.


Jesus illustrates his authority 9-18

As a follow up to the authority question Jesus told this parable of a vineyard owner (representing God) v 9 who rented out his vineyard (the work of God on earth) to vine growers (Israel and its leaders) v 10. But when the owner sent slaves (prophets) to collect what was his they mistreated them v 10-12. Then he sent his son (Jesus) and they killed him v 15. So, Jesus said, He will come (with judgment) and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others (the apostles who would start the church) v 16. This refers to the first coming not the second coming of Christ.

The vine-growers are Israel and the others are the church which includes gentiles. The Jewish people understood this is what Jesus meant v 16 and said ‘no way’. Also in his home town synagogue in Nazareth, they wanted to throw Him off a cliff, because He told them God was interested in gentiles. But Jesus countered saying He was the rejected stone v 17 (by quoting Psalm 118:22) who became the cornerstone, a stone they were stumbling over, which will crush them v 18.

PT: Everyone will have a day of reckoning before Jesus Christ the Lord and King. His authority is universal. He has no rivals. To malign him is to foolishly ignore this reality to one’s eternal peril.



Dissenters attempt to undercut Jesus authority 19-20

False religious leaders are always people oriented rather than God oriented v 6, 19, 26. They are sensitive to what the people want, but not what God wants. The leaders then send spies who pretend to believe in Jesus in order to ask Him a question, not to find the answer but to trap Him into an answer that would get Him in trouble (v 20, 26).

1. They are watching. They will keep their eye on him.

2. They sent spies.  They are hired to lie in wait lurking, waiting for a chance to do damage.

3. They pretended to be righteous. They want to look sincere without being so.

4. Their purpose is to catch Jesus attempting to set Jesus up by any means possible.

5. The reason is to deliver him to the authorities. The thinking now is to get Rome in on the action.


They want Jesus to incriminate himself 21-26

This was a gotcha question v 20, 26). The Pharisees thought paying taxes to Caesar broke the Mosaic Law but Roman Law required it v 22. It’s designed to force Jesus to make a choice between Rome and Israel. Jesus asked for a coin saying we should give to God the things that are God’s v 25. Of course that’s everything. But Jesus is here making a distinction between what is God’s and what is Caesar’s. The distinction comes from the image on the coin. He is not telling them to give all their possessions to God. He is telling them to give themselves to God because God’s image is on them. So v 26:

1. They could not catch him in a saying. This shows they wanted Jesus to incriminate himself.

2. In the presence of the people shows that they wanted Jesus to discredit himself in front of the crowd.

3. They marveled and remained silent. Jesus is not a nationalist after all. Nor is he ignorant.



Enemies relentlessly dispute Jesus authority 27-40

This question, about life after the resurrection, came from Sadducees v 27-33. Jesus gave several at least 4 insights here. (1) Marriage is for this life only; it ends at death v 34. (2) The believers are resurrected and neither marry nor are given in marriage v 35. There is no marriage in heaven. (3) Believers in heaven cannot even die anymore, because they are like angel’s v 36 in that they are no longer mortal. (4) Jesus uses Exodus 3:6 in v 37-38 … I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Jesus made the point that these patriarchs were alive after death because God is not the God of the dead but of the living. In other words, He was assuming the scripture is exactly, literally, verbally, inerrant; theological and truthful conclusions can be drawn from the literal details of the text. Once again the attempt to trap Jesus and embarrass him fails v 39-40.


Jesus solidifies his authority 41-47

Jesus point with the question in v 41 is how is it that David can call a son, a descendant, by the title Lord? The implication is that Messiah as David’s Lord transcends him as a descendent of his. Jesus is Lord, of course, because he has the message of salvation and he is the one who has come with the mission to fulfil from God. Jesus authority is absolute and eternal.  


Jesus followed this with a warning, Beware of the scribes, who…

1. Like to walk around in long robes, probably expensive robes.

2. Love respectful greetings in the market places. That is, they liked to be recognized as successful.

3. They love chief seats in the synagogues. Today they would like to be known as leaders in the church. 4. They love places of honor at banquets. They liked being recognized as leaders in their community.

5. Who devour widows’ houses probably because they loaned money to widows who could not pay it back, the point is they were without mercy and compassion in business.

6. For appearance’s sake offer long prayers they want to appear to be sincerely religious, not by their knowledge of God but by their religious activity. These will receive greater condemnation (20:47).

The point is not to emulate their pride. God is not impressed by this approach!

In verses 46-47, after listing sins of the scribes, Jesus said, these will receive greater condemnation. So we can conclude there are various degrees of sin and different punishments in the Lake of Fire, and the greater condemnation are for sins of pride/cruelty (Mk 12:40; Lk 12:47- 48; Jn 19:11; Rev 20:11-15).