Luke 20 Confrontation with Jewish Leaders
Summary

Chapter twenty provides a record of three very direct and deliberate confrontations of Jesus with the Jewish leaders in the temple grounds. Members of the Sanhedrin questioned His personal authority (vs. 1-8), Pharisees interrogated Him about His political position (vs. 20-26), and Sadducees challenged Him on His religious views (vs. 27=40). The form of their attacks in each case was inquisition. By questioning, they were shielded from having to answer to the people for their own positions and from any sympa-thetic backlash resulting from their part in direct confrontation. If they could catch Jesus in some self-contradiction, or religious error, they thought they would discredit Him with the people.

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

20One day, as Jesus[1] was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up 2and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” 3He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, 4was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” 5And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Question 1

Though Jesus did not directly answer, by what authority was he doing those things?

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

9And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. 10When the time came, he sent a servant[2] to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 13Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” 17But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?[3]

Question 2

Who does the one who planted a vineyard represent? Who does the “son” represent?

18Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

Paying Taxes to Caesar

19The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. 20So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality,[4] but truly teach the way of God. 22Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24“Show me a denarius.[5] Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar's.” 25He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” 26And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.

Question 3

Is it lawful for Christians to pay taxes even when government is corrupt?

Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

27There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man[6] must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30And the second 31and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32Afterward the woman also died. 33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”

Question 4

Why was their question about the wife with seven husbands not a good question?

34And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons[7] of the resurrection. 37But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” 39Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40For they no longer dared to ask him any question.

Whose Son Is the Christ?

41But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David's son? 42For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 43until I make your enemies your footstool.’

44David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”

Question 5

How was Jesus both David’s Lord and David’s Son?

Beware of the Scribes

45And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 46“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

People
  • The elders, chief priest adn scribes
  • Make up the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court

  • Pharisees
  • The conservative sectarian party

  • Sadducees
  • Sectarian party that did not believe in resurrection and spiri

  • Scribes
  • Protectors of the Law in Israel.

Places
  • Jerusalem
  • Around the temple

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

20One day, as Jesus[1] was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up 2and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” 3He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, 4was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” 5And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Luke 20:1

This was probably on Tuesday of the week in which Jesus was crucified on Friday.


Luke 20:2

The question basically asks who gave Jesus the right to do and teach what He was.


Luke 20:3

Notice, Jesus does not answer directly. He had already answered by His teaching and works.


Luke 20:4

Jesus had already identified John as a prophet (Luke 7:28). John had identified Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29-34). If they believed John, they would accept Jesus as Messiah.


Luke 20:5

This placed the religious leaders in a predicament.

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

9And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. 10When the time came, he sent a servant[2] to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 13Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” 17But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?[3]

Luke 20:9

The owner is God; vinedressers are these rulers; servants are God’s prophets; the Son is Jesus.


Luke 20:16

God would come and condemn the rulers and give His kingdom to others.

18Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

Paying Taxes to Caesar

19The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. 20So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality,[4] but truly teach the way of God. 22Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24“Show me a denarius.[5] Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar's.” 25He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” 26And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.

Luke 20:24

A denarius was a coin valued at approximately the worth of a common laborer’s daily wage.

Notice Jesus asked for a coin commonly used by them bearing the Emperor’s image.


Luke 20:25

This essentially says that it is lawful to pay taxes…see Romans 13:1-7(esp. vs. 6).

Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

27There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man[6] must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30And the second 31and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32Afterward the woman also died. 33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”

Luke 20:28

This is a paraphrase of the Levirate (brother-in-law) Law stated in Deuteronomy 25:5. There are two explanations of this Law which the student might read: Genesis 38 and Ruth 3-4.

34And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons[7] of the resurrection. 37But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” 39Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40For they no longer dared to ask him any question.

Luke 20:34

This “world” or “age” is contrasted with existence in the eternal spiritual realm.


Luke 20:35

Jesus affirms that there will be resurrection, there are angels, and there will be life after death.


Luke 20:37

The burning bush passage is found in Exodus 3.


Luke 20:38

Exodus 3:6,15 speak of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob presently living.


Luke 20:39

What the scribes said is included in Mark 12:28-34.

Whose Son Is the Christ?

41But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David's son? 42For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 43until I make your enemies your footstool.’

Luke 20:41

Prophecy said Messiah would be born of the seed of David: 2 Sam. 7; Psa. 89, 132; Isa. 9, 11.

44David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”

Luke 20:44

Christ was Son of David (of his seed); but He is David’s Lord because He existed before David as the eternal Son of God.

Beware of the Scribes

45And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 46“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Perspectives

It is my responsibility to pay my taxes but I must also give to God my service and adoration.

There is resurrection and life to come.

Jesus Christ is the eternal Messiah who saves the world.