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sf235 - A Question Of Authority (Matthew 21 23-32)

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Matthew 21:23-32

Introduction

Authority is a strong word, denoting power and privilege.  A person with authority exercises control over the lives and welfare of other people.  Society cannot operate without having some people in positions of authority; the alternative would be anarchy and chaos. 

The conflict in this encounter between Jesus and the religious leaders was over the issue of authority, specifically Jesus’ authority which they questioned and which they feared would threaten their own positions of authority

In Matthew 21 Jesus follows a familiar pattern in the gospels.  That is he follows a great work or action with teaching.

In this chapter He has performed three symbolic actions. 

Ø      The Triumphal entry presenting Himself as the King and Messiah.

Ø      The cleansing of the Temple demonstrating His authority and restoring proper worship.

Ø      The cursing of the fig tree symbolizing God’s coming judgment of the nation of Israel.

In our text today the Lord, sets forth His authority first by His response to the Jewish leaders’ question and then by a stinging parable.


1A.      The Lord’s Authority (21:23-27)

1B.      The demand of the Jewish leaders (21:23)

His accusers were representatives of the Sanhedrin (Mark 11:27, Luke 20:1)

Ø      The group of chief priests and elders may have included the high priests Caiaphas and Annas, who served concurrently for several years (Luke 3:2).

Ø      The elders comprised a wide variety of religious leaders, which definitely included Pharisees (Matt. 21:45) and scribes (Luke 20:1), and possibly Sadducees, Herodians, and even some Zealots and Essenes.

They questioned the legitimacy of His authority.

Ø      This was specifically a reference to his right to cleanse the Temple.

Ø      And to His right to teach in the Temple.

They questioned the origin of His authority

Ø      They knew that they had not ordained Him.

They could not deny His authority

Ø      Jesus had both dunamis (power) and exousia (authority).  Dunamis refers to ability, and exousia to right.

Ø      Jesus not only had great power but the right to exercise that power, because both His power and His authority were from His heavenly Father.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Ø      Because Jesus had the Father’s power and authority, He sought no human authority, accreditation, ordination, or credentials


2B.      The dilemma of the Jewish leaders (21:24-26)

The proposal (21:24-25a)

Ø      Jesus answered the question of the chief priests and elders with a query of His own.

Ø      The answer to His question would supply the answer to their question.

Ø      The baptism of John referred to His entire ministry which was characterized by his baptizing those who repented of their sins (Matt. 3:6).

The problem (21:25b-26)

Ø      Jesus’ question put them on the horns of a great dilemma.

Ø      It was not simply that they had rejected John himself but that they had also rejected John’s clear testimony about Jesus.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

John 1:34 "And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."

Ø      To have accepted John as a prophet from heaven would have required accepting Jesus as the Messiah

3B.      The decision of the Jewish leaders (21:27)

Their decision reveals their love of darkness

John 3:19  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Their decision condemns them to continued darkness

John 3:20 "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

2A.      The Leaders’ Accountability (21:28-32)

1B.      The appropriateness of the parable (21:28-31a)

The first son (21:28-29)

Ø      His rebellion (21:28-29a)

Ø      His repentance (21:29b)

The second son (21:30)

Ø      His false profession

Ø      His failed performance

2B.      The application of the parable (21:31-32)

The conversion of great sinners (21:31b)

Ø      Tax-collectors were merciless extortioners and traitors to their own people.

Ø      Harlots were the epitome of gross immorality.

Ø      Before you does not mean that the unbelieving leaders would eventually enter the Kingdom, Jesus simply used the expression to show God’s reversal of man-made standards for salvation.

The condemnation of the hypocrites (21:32)

Ø      They were condemned by their hard hearts.

Ø      The refused to repent and believe.

Luke 13:3 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

Acts 26:20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.

Acts 20:20-21 "how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.


Matthew 21:23-32

1A.      The Lord’s Authority (21:23-27)

1B.      The _____________ of the Jewish leaders (21:23)

His accusers were representatives of the Sanhedrin (Mark 11:27, Luke 20:1)

They questioned the _____________ of His authority.

Ø      This was specifically a reference to his right to cleanse the Temple.

Ø      And to His right to teach in the Temple.

They questioned the ______________ of His authority

They could not ____________________ His authority

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

2B.      The dilemma of the Jewish leaders (21:24-26)

The ____________________________ (21:24-25a)

The _____________________________ (21:25b-26)

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

John 1:34 "And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."

3B.      The decision of the Jewish leaders (21:27)

Their decision reveals their ___________ of darkness

John 3:19  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.


Their decision condemns them to continued darkness

John 3:20 "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

2A.      The Leaders’ Accountability (21:28-32)

1B.      The appropriateness of the parable (21:28-31a)

The ____________________ son (21:28-29)

Ø      His rebellion (21:28-29a)

Ø      His repentance (21:29b)

The ____________________ son (21:30)

Ø      His false profession

Ø      His failed performance

2B.      The application of the parable (21:31-32)

The conversion of _______________ sinners (21:31b)

The condemnation of the hypocrites (21:32)

Luke 13:3 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

Acts 26:20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.

Acts 20:20-21 "how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

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