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68 Luke 20.1-19

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Luke 20:1-19

v    Opening Illustration

Ø     This chapter is sometimes referred to as “The Day of Questions”

§        First of 5 question put to Jesus

·        3 of which are recorded here in Luke

¨     The Afterlife

¨     Taxes

Ø     And the challenge that is put before our Lord today…

§        Authority

Authority Challenged (20:1-8)

v    The Random House Dictionary of the English Language defines authority as

Ø     “A power or right to direct the actions or thoughts of others. A power or right, usually because of rank or office, to issue commands and to punish for violations.”

§        Power or right is used twice in this definition

·        And that is precisely what the priests, teachers and elders were wondering about Jesus…


READ V. 1-2

v    Derived authority was foundational in ancient Israel, as it is today

Ø     Authority had to be founded on something or given by someone

§        And in the last several days, Jesus had claimed great authority in various ways

·        And those in charge wanted to know where it came from!

§        He had allowed great authority to be ascribed to him …

·        In his triumphant entry in Jerusalem

¨     The People assigned to him incredible authority

Ø     Yelling Psalm 118 at the top of their lungs

§        A messianic psalm

·        Basically ascribing the Jesus Messianic status

Ø     Pharisees knew this and asked Jesus to rebuke them

§        But, if you remember, Jesus did not

Ø     Jesus displayed great authority in his teaching

§        Typical Jewish teaching is…

·        Rabbi Abram says…But Rabbi Meyer permits…but Rabbi Judah states…

¨     Jesus did not teach this way

Ø     “I tell you”

Ø     “I tell you the truth…”

Ø     “Truly, truly I say to you…”

Ø     On the sermon on the mount he did something counter to the typical teaching of the day!

§        “It is said, but I say to you”

·        Laying no foundation to his teaching

¨      For he is the foundation!

¨     That is what Paul stated in 1 Cor 3:11

¨     For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

¨     Jesus Claimed to be THE foundational authority

v    Finally…

Ø     Jesus laid claim to great authority in the…

§        Cleansing of the temple

·        What right did Jesus have to do such a thing?

·        Who had given Jesus that type of authority?

¨     To enter the temple and act as if it was his!

Ø     No one…in the eyes of the Sanhedrin!

v    The Sanhedrin was the authoritative body in Jerusalem composed of the 3 groups that approached Jesus here

Ø     Ex-High priests, scribes (or teachers) and Israel’s elders

§        The priests did not give him authority to cleanse the temple

·        So the cleansing was not sanctioned

§        The teachers had not given Jesus their seal of approval to teach

·        So his teaching was invalid

§        The elders had not identified Jesus as the messiah

·        So his triumphal entry was a hoax

v    So they had high hopes to trap Jesus by asking the very slippery question…

Ø     “By what authority you are doing these things?”

§        If he said it was from any of them,

·        They could refute it and discredit him in the eyes of the people

§        If he said it was from God,

·        They could charge him with blaspheme and kill him immediately

¨     A win-win in their eyes!

v    But Jesus, in typical Rabbinic fashion, answers a question with a question…


READ V. 3-6

v    This question is not meant to evade, but rather to guide them in answering their own question

Ø     If they said from men…

§        They would discredit themselves because John was such a popular figure

·        And they refused to be baptized by him (Luke 3)

·        If they said from heaven…

¨     Then they would not only have sinned in rejecting John’s baptism

Ø     But more to the point…

§        They would be admitting that Jesus’ authority indeed does come from heaven!

·        For John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the Messiah!

Ø     In John 1:29-31 John the Baptist sees Jesus coming toward him and says…

§         “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

¨     By answering that John’s authority came from heaven

Ø     They would by default say that Jesus’ does too

v    The truth stared them in the face

Ø     But they took the cowardly way out

§        They pleaded agnosticism


READ v. 7


v    Agnosticism is basically saying, “I don’t know”

Ø     And that is what they said to Jesus

§        But theirs was a fabricated agnosticism

·        You see…

¨     The truth pointed them in one direction

Ø     But they refused to face it

v    We face similar truth dilemmas as believers today

Ø     So many times the truth of God’s Word points one way

§        Yet we do not want to follow it

§        We resist it

·        Because, if the truth be known, the right path is the difficult path

¨     W. Barclay states:

Ø     To face the truth may confront a man with a sore and difficult situation, but to refuse to face it confronts him with a tangle out of which there is no escape.

Ø     Obeying truth of God’s Word is many times very difficult

§        It asks us to humble ourselves in a pride affirming world

§        It asks us to offer the other cheek

§        It asks us to forgive regardless of circumstances

§        It asks us to pray for our enemies

§        It asks us to go the extra mile

§        Ladies, it asks you to submit to your husbands

§        Men, it asks you to love your wife as Christ loved the church

·        It puts us at odds with the world

·        It puts us at odds with our fleshly judgment

·        It puts us at odds sometimes with our own families

·        It demands that we do things that we would otherwise not do

¨     Following the truth is just plain difficult

Ø     Illustration: Breaking the window at Casagmo

§        But what the Word is saying to us today is…

·        It is a far better to be confronted with a difficult temporary situation

¨     Than entangled in on in which there is no escape

v    Because they took the cowardly way out

Ø     So He reuses to answer their question regarding authority

§        But he goes on to tell a parable aimed directly at their authority


READ 9-16

Authority Usurped (20:9-16)

v    This parable, of course, is a short, pointed history of Israel

Ø     It was meant to turn the accusing barrel of the gun back toward the priests, teachers and elders that approached him

§        Although the Sanhedrin comes to him demanding to know why he has sidestepped their authority

·        Jesus tells them how they have in fact usurped God’s authority

v    You see…

Ø     Jesus is claiming through this parable that the leadership of Israel  been has shanghaied

§        It is no longer God’s people under God’s rule in God’s place…as it was set up to be

·        In other words…

¨     It is no longer God’s Kingdom, but man’s!

Ø     The leadership no longer rules by God’s word, but by their greedy, covetous, power hungry whims

v    The man = God

Ø     Yahweh created Israel

Ø     Yahweh chose a people for himself

§        It was God who planted the vineyard

v    Vineyard = Israel

Ø     The image of a vineyard is concept that is deeply rooted in the national consciousness of Israel

§        Much the way the eagle is in the American consciousness

·        The OT is replete with this image

¨     Ps 80; Jer 2; Ezek 19; Hosea 10

Ø      But perhaps The song of the Vineyard (Isa 5:1-7) is the most explicit

§        V. 7 ~  The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight.

Ø     It was such a widely held national symbol that Herod had a 140’ grapevine erected at the entrance to the temple

·        Branches and leaves made of gold

·        The grapes clusters were precious jewels

¨     I could see Jesus telling this parable in the shadow of this mammoth national symbol

Ø     Just so people would not miss the meaning

v    The Farmers = Israel’s leaders

Ø     The people and the land were “rented” out to them

§        And that is something that they had forgotten

·        Lev 25:23 ~ The land is mine, you are but aliens and tenants

¨     Israel (land and people) was not theirs!

Ø     They were simply to have oversight of the land and the people

§        They were to constantly…

·        Point people to Yahweh as their sole leader

¨     Instead of to themselves

·        Direct people to the Word

¨     Instead of directing to them to the tradition and laws made by men

·        Lead as under-shepherds

¨     Display servant leadership

Ø     But instead…20:46

·        Help Israel to be a light to the nations

¨     Instead of being a inward curled community

·        They were to point to the power of God and Gods rule

¨     Not build their powerbase

·        They were to listen to God’s Prophets

¨     But instead, look at what they did…

v    Servants = Prophets of the OT

Ø     God sent prophets again and again to redirect Israel

§        We have 16 prophets preserved for us in Scripture

·        But we know that there were thousands upon thousands that Yahweh sent to Israel

¨     But they were always rejected

Ø     Because the leaders wanted the privilege and power

·        Talking about the prophets Heb 11:37-38 says…

¨     They 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—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

Ø     In Scripture we have…

§        Elijah driven into a cave

§        Zechariah was stoned to death near the alter

§        John the Baptist beheaded

·        Tradition holds that Isaiah was sawn in two

§        Jesus is pointing the finger at the leaders of Israel and saying

·        They came to tell of the authority of God

¨     But you refused to listen

Of course…

v    Son = Jesus Christ

Ø     Jesus is prophetically talking about himself here

§        Telling of events that would unfold in the next 6 days

·        The leaders would kill Jesus

¨     God’s own son

v    With this being said…

Ø     Jesus looks at them and says…

READ v. 17

Authority Re-established (20:17-19)

v    The builders, of course, are the Leaders of Israel

Ø     Who will, in a matter of days, reject and kill Jesus

§        And to many people that is the stumbling block

·        A dead Messiah

·        Jesus hanging on a cross

·        The “savior” of the world…dying

They look at Jesus the way the some Italian aristocracy in the 1500 looked at a massive piece of marble sitting in their courtyard. It had been delivered some 25 years previous and was found to have a flaw.  Now, marred by the elements, they had given this piece of rock up useless.  In 1501, a young man saw the stone and approached them to sculpture something out of it.  They saw this as a worthless piece of rock, but allowed him to proceed.

Over the next 3 years this young man worked and chiseled and smoothed.  On January 25th 1504 the statue was unveiled to the awe of those in attendance.  There before them, chiseled out of a flawed, worthless, rejected piece of marble, stood one of the most perfect sculptures ever produced…Michelangelo’s David.

v    The stone the builders rejected had become the capstone

v    He then goes on to say…


READ v. 18

v    There is an old Jewish proverb

Ø     If a stone falls on a pot, alas for the pot; if the pot falls on the stone, alas for the pot

§        The meaning is simple…

·        No matter what is doing the smashing, the stone always comes out on top

¨     That is the “Principle of the Stone”

Ø     The stone is always strongest

Ø     The stone is everlasting

Ø     The stone is unmoved

Ø     The stone is undeviating

Ø     The stone prevails

v    And that is the principle that Jesus applies to himself

Ø     He has the authority, because…

§        He is the embodiment of the temple itself

·        The temple coming to the temple

§        He is the son that was sent

·        For God so loved the world that he sent his son…

§        He is the man that planted the vineyard

v    So Jesus says in so many words…

Ø     Either you humble yourself before the capstone

§        Or you dash yourself against the judgment stone

Ø     Either accept Jesus’ authority in your life

§        Or you kick against the goads

Ø     You either accept Jesus’ grace

§        Or accept Jesus’ judgment



v    Stephen right before he was stoned

Ø     Acts 7:51

§        You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?

¨     How could they think that?

Ø     Because of V. 9 ~ God went away for a long time

Ø     Many times we have a “verse 9” mentality

§        God cannot be seen

§        God is many times difficult to grasp

·        So we think he is not there

·        We maybe even wander into thinking that he is not real

¨     Because he went away for a long time

v    For centuries people believed that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object, the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all time, and surely he would not be wrong. Anyone, of course, could have taken two objects, one heavy and one light, and dropped them from a great height to see whether or not the heavier object landed first. But no one did until nearly 2,000 years after Aristotle's death. In 1589 Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Then he went to the top and pushed off a ten- pound and a one-pound weight. Both landed at the same instant. The power of belief was so strong, however, that the professors denied their eyesight. They continued to say Aristotle was right. 

v    This parable shows us two aspects of God’s character

Ø     God’s Love and Longsuffering

§        God is far more patient than we give him credit for

·        Through the prophets, He extends to his hardhearted people love, mercy, grace, and opportunities to repent

¨     M. Luther

Ø     If I were God and the world had treated me as it treated Him, I would kick the wretched thing to pieces

Ø     God’s Justice

§        But there comes a time when justice and judgment are meted out

§        There comes a time for the consequences of the disobedience and distrust

·        And here Jesus tells Israel’s leaders that they will be displaced

¨     That the vineyard will be given to others

Ø     Te people knew exactly what Jesus meant

§        And they cried…

·        May this never be!

Ø     Jesus came to be rejected and killed

§        And to many people that is the stumbling block

·        A dead Messiah

·        Jesus hanging on a cross

·        The “savior” of the world…dying

Ø     But Jesus says…

§        Destroy this temple and in 3 days I will raise it up again

·        Jesus has become the capstone

§        But Jesus through his death and resurrection becomes the capstone

·        The capstone is the stone that is placed at the apex of an arch which holds it all together

·        It evenly distributes the weight and pressure of the arch

¨     Without the capstone

Ø     In the OT, the stone was an image used over and over for


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