John T. Willis

Friday, August 23, 2013

Jesus' Parable of the Wicked Tenants--Luke 20:1-19 [Part I]

While Jesus was teaching EVERY DAY in the Jerusalem temple, the Jewish authorities=the chief priests, scribes, and leaders of the people were looking for a way to kill Jesus--Luke 19:47. One day, the Jewish authorities confronted Jesus as he was teaching and challenged Jesus' authority. Jesus responded in two ways: (1) Asking the Jewish authorities a simple question; (2) Giving a parable of the wicked tenants. This appears in Luke 20:1-19. This material is very rich, and thus we will deal with this in two parts. Luke 20:1-19 naturally falls into two parts. In this blog, we will treat the first issue. I. The Jewish Authorities challenge Jesus' Authority. Luke 20:1-8. a. While Jesus was teaching the Jewish in the Jerusalem temple and tell them the good news, one day the Jewish Sanhedrin=the chief priests, scribes, and leaders of the people came to Jesus and asked him this question: "By what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?" Luke 4:32, 36; 5:24 already spoke of Jesus' authority. The Jewish Sanhedrin attempt to bring Jesus to an inquisition and demand that he declare publicly the source of his claim to teach and preach. The Jewish authorities knew that Jesus was not a rabbi in the normal sense in Jewish culture. So they hoped to catch Jesus in some admission so they could arrest him and put him to death. 20:1-2. b. Jesus responded by countering with another question: "Did the baptism of John the Baptist come from heaven, or was it of human origin?" Everyone already knew that the Jewish people held John the Baptist in the highest regard. Here Jesus does not question the authority of the Jewish leaders. Also, Jesus did not declare that he was the Messiah or a prophet. Instead, Jesus asked a penetrating simple question. He wanted the Jewish authorities to declare what they REALLY thought about whether John the Baptist's ministry came from God or from human beings. John the Baptist was not a rabbi, but he commanded the respect of the Jewish people. Gamaliel raised a similar question in Acts 5:38. 20:3-4. c. Instead of responding to Jesus, the Jewish authorities discussed Jesus' question with one another. Jesus put them on the defensive; as a result, they were not concerned about actually dealing with Jesus' question, but about the consequences of the answer which they finally determined. The Sanhedrin concluded that if they said, the baptism of John the Baptist came from heaven, then Jesus would say, "Why did you not believe him?" that is, Why did you not submit to his baptism of repentance and the forgiveness of sins? See Luke 7:28-30. In this context, "heaven" is clearly a circumlocution for God the Father. On the other hand, the Jewish authorities reasoned that if they said that the baptism of John the Baptist came of human origin, the Jewish people would stone them to death because they were already convinced that John the Baptist was a prophet. 20:5-6. d. Caught in this dilemma, the Jewish authorities said they did not know where the baptism of John the Baptist came from. Jesus replied, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things." John the Baptist had baptized Jesus and then declared that Jesus was more powerful than John (Luke 3:16). If John the Baptist was a prophet, Jesus would at least be a prophet sent from God the Father. The Jewish authorities PRETEND they do not know the answer to Jesus' simple question. In doing this, they clearly FEARED stoning from the Jewish people and FEARED the truth which Jesus confronted them. Since they admit that they are not competent of judge John the Baptist, they are certainly not competent to judge Jesus. All of this profoundly demonstrates that Jesus' authority far excels the authority of the Jewish Sanhedrin or any other human being or group. 20:7-8. [To be continued] John Willis


Post a Comment

<< Home