November 22 - Luke 20:1-8

Friday, November 22, 2013

Luke 20:1-8 – Jesus’ Authority Questioned

Following on the heels of the temple cleansing, Jesus spent time in the temple courts teaching and preaching. This was not an uncommon sight. Many teachers would do just that. Whether they were local or in Jerusalem for a festival, well-known teachers spent time in the courtyards of the temple, with people gathered around listening to their words.

None of the gospel writers tell us what Jesus was teaching, but it would be easy to assume that the message he had been delivering since Luke 4 would be repeated again. The Sanhedrin was made up of the leadership of Israel. The Chief Priests, the teachers of the law, the elders of the faith all came together to act as a legislative body. They approached Jesus this day to question his authority. This isn't surprising since they would have been the same people who were trying to devise a plan to kill him. If he would simply betray himself to the people, their task would be made much simpler.

What should Jesus’ response have been to them? He had already established his authority. In Luke 1:32, 35 we read that he is the Son of the Most High. In Luke 2:11, 26 he is the Christ – the Messiah. In Luke 4:34, he is the Holy One of God; the Son of Man (Luke 5:24), the Son of David (Luke 18:38-39) and Israel’s king (Luke 19:12, 15, 38). His authority has been clearly stated throughout his ministry.

At some point, you have to feel badly for these men. They had yet to learn that an outright attack on Jesus was a foolish thing to do. They’d been doing so since early in his ministry and each time, their words tripped them up and made them look the fools, yet once again, they confronted him in front of people who loved and trusted him. Their intent was to make him look bad, but their disbelief in who he truly was made them blind to the potential for failure.

He responded to their query regarding his authority with a question of his own: “Was John’s baptism from heaven, or from men.”

In other words, if John’s baptism was from heaven, why did you not receive it and repent of your sins? If it was from men, what will you tell this immense group of people standing here, who believe in God’s work through John the Baptist?

They recognized the conundrum and even though they were part of Israel’s leadership, to publicly denounce a man who was beloved … and had been killed by Herod, making him a martyr … would bring an angry end to the conversation. They said nothing.

Jesus ignored them. They were useless at this point.