Read Luke 20
The Authority of Jesus Questioned
20 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. 2 “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”
3 He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: 4 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?”
5 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”
7 So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”
8 Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
The Parable of the Tenants
9 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. 10 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. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.
13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’
14 “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.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”
When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”
17 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’?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”
19 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.
Paying Taxes to Caesar
20 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. 21 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. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.
The Resurrection and Marriage
27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “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. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 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, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 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.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Whose Son Is the Messiah?
41 Then Jesus said to them, “Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? 42 David himself declares in the Book of Psalms:
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
43 until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’
44 David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”
Warning Against the Teachers of the Law
45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “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 honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
Throughout the book of Luke, we see the Pharisees watch Jesus carefully. Not so much in an effort to learn from Him, but rather in the hope that He will get something wrong. They attempt to ask Him trick questions and try multiple times to trap Jesus in His own words. But Jesus cannot be trapped, because He has nothing to hide. His words are true. As Jesus responds to each question posed by the religious leaders, He teaches us something about the Kingdom of God and leaves the questioner speechless.
The parable of the wicked tenants highlights that the religious leaders were not stewarding their authority well. The characters depicted here are the vineyard owner (God), the vineyard itself (Israel), and the tenants or farmers (Israel’s religious leaders). They willfully mismanage what has been entrusted to them and seek the destruction of anyone who may try to hold them accountable, even the son himself.
The religious leaders, again trying to trip Jesus up, ask Him about whether or not they should pay taxes. Jesus asks a question in return that calls them to remember who they serve. He takes a coin and asks them to look at it. Whose image is on the coin? Whose inscription does it have? In whose likeness is it made? “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (v. 25). But what contains God’s image? What has His inscription on it? Who was made in His likeness? Genesis 1:27 tells us, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
We are image-bearers of God. He created us in His likeness for a purpose. So just as the coin that bears Caesar’s image is to be rendered to Caesar, we who bear the image of God are to give ourselves to God. These stories teach us something about stewardship. The religious leaders were given opportunity and authority and they stewarded it poorly. What will you do with what has been entrusted to you?
- What does the word “stewardship” mean?
- “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). What gifts, opportunities, and abilities has God given you to steward?
- As an image-bearer of God, what does it look like for you to give yourself to Him?
By the Way
Jesus’ question in verse 17 is quoted from Psalm 118:22: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” This verse is also quoted in Acts 4:11 and 1 Peter 2:7.
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