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Nov 1 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 30, 2011

. . . and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?” Jesus answered and said to them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell Me: Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?” Luke 20:1-3 (read vv. 1-19)

INTRO: Perhaps the most critical question regarding Christianity is, “Why Jesus?”

Why not another teacher? Or simply God?

Luke uses a confrontation between religious leaders and Jesus to raise this question
– the rest of the story is built around the answer

Chapters 20 – 21 form a single unit, which we could title, “Jesus Teaching In the Temple”
– this unit was introduced by the word “approach” (three times in chapter 19)
– Luke indicates the beginning and end of the unit by making references to Jesus teaching in the temple (20:1 & 21:37-38)
– then the next unit begins in 22:1, where once again the word “approach” signals the new section (this time, the approach of Passover)

The conflict that has been brewing up to this point really heats up now
– the climax comes when Jesus predicts:

  • the collapse of the current system in the temple and Jerusalem
  • his return and the establishment of his kingdom

Verses 1-8, Round One – Of A Three-Round Match

It’s obvious what is going on here
– these were the three ruling classes in Jerusalem: chief priests, scribes, and elders
(together they formed the Sanhedrin – “supreme court”)
– they administrated the temple and its ministries
– they knew that Jesus did not have permission to teach, because they had not give him permission

They intentionally interrupted him
– challenged him in front of his audience
– not only wanted to silence him, but publically shame — to discredit him in front of his audience

V. 3, Pay attention to what Jesus does (not just says)
– if he gave them a simple answer, he would have been surrendering himself to their authority
– instead, he says, “Okay, I’ll ask you a question too”

His question is a brilliant comeback:

  1. He assumes authority (as they have)
    – exercises authority in practice when asked about it in theory
    – his question is itself an answer to their question, but he doesn’t have to say it
  2. He introduced an option they had not considered; namely, “heaven”
  3. He restricted their options – forced their hand
    – they were not quick enough to see how he had backed them into a corner
  4. he implies his authority is derived from same source as John

They are the ones who were publically embarrassed
– the real question: By what authority did they run the temple?

“These things?” – specifically refer to Jesus driving out vendors and teaching in the temple
– but I think Luke has Jesus’ entire ministry in mind
– the whole thing has been about authority

  • 4:32, from start, he taught with authority
  • 4:36, drove demons out of people with authority
  • 5:24, had authority to forgive sins
  • 9:1, could give authority to the twelve

Jesus never asked for anyone’s permission
– he commanded, declared, and enlightened
– at all times and in every situation he carried authority in himself

Verses 9-19, Jesus Creates A Context for Interpreting this Situation

The parable reveals the spiritual and political infrastructure of temple
– where did they stand in it?
– where did Jesus fit into it?
– how will it resolve?

The vineyard is used as a symbol of Israel several times in the Hebrew Scriptures
– the vineyard especially represents God’s dream for Israel (Is. 5:1-7; Jer. 2:21)

In Jesus’ parable, God is the owner and slaves he sends are the prophets
– those who worked the vineyard were Israel’s religious leaders — the people who asked him about his authority
– Jesus is the “beloved Son” – an echo of his baptism (3:22)
– in verse 15, “threw him out . . . and killed him” are graphic expressions of what happened to Jesus in being dragged outside of Jerusalem and crucified

The parable contains several revelations:

  • the source of Jesus’ authority – God’s beloved Son who was sent into the world
  • the meaning of Jesus’ whole story from the beginning to his return
  • an overview of Israel’s entire history with God

How it will end:
– those who worked vineyard will be destroyed
– the vineyard will be given to others (who will fulfill God’s vision)
– Jesus, rejected now, will become the chief corner — he will play the most important role and have the most prominence

The Problem With Israel’s Leaders

They treated the temple like it belonged to them (v. 10, etc.)
– they treated the nation as if it were their’s
Jer. 12:10, “Many shepherds have ruined My vineyard”

Remember what Jesus said when he went through temple?
– “you have made it . . .”
– they assumed they were free to make it whatever they dreamed up

Regarding idols: Hosea 8:6,
“A craftsman made it, so it is not God”
– craftsmen were employed to build and beautify temple
What’s the difference between sculpting cherubim and carving an idol?
– the idea for one is given by God, while the idea for the other comes from the imagination of the craftsman

Religious institutions run programs
– where do we get the vision and design for those programs?
– this parable shows us that this is an important question
– we assume we can come up with these ourselves
Of course, we think our ideas are biblical – so did they
– but if a craftsman has made it, it isn’t God

Too often, we want leaders who will give us programs
– simplify our Christian faith, education, and development
– then we can avoid the hard work of personally approaching God in faith

Spiritual growth cannot be squeezed into a program

Truth about many programs: the have been designed to control people
– they are used to serve the institution
– we find that we have been enslaved to an institution through its programs
– our vital spiritual energy has been drained away
– excessive volunteering can shut down our life with God
– programs can become idols that syphon off the devotion and service that belong to God alone

CONC: We escape these traps by returning to Jesus

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