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The Authority of Jesus Questioned


20:1-2 Now one day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the gospel, the chief priests and the experts in the law with the elders came up and said to him, "Tell us: By what authority are you doing these things? Or who it is who gave you this authority?"


One day when Jesus was teaching and preaching the gospel message in the temple the chief priests and scribes came with the members of the Sanhedrin to challenges Him to tell them by whose authority He taught the people.


20:3-4 He answered them, "I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: John's baptism — was it from heaven or from people?"


In reply He asks them to first answer a question that He will put to them.  Did the authority that John baptized with come from heaven, God, or men ?


20:5 So they discussed it with one another, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Why did you not believe him?'


They discussed this question among themselves realizing that if they said it was from heaven then they had no excuse as to why they did believe that John was a prophet, the forerunner of the Christ.


20:6 But if we say, 'From people,' all the people will stone us, because they are convinced that John was a prophet."


On the other hand if they said that his authority was from men that they were in danger of being stone because the people them because were firmly convinced that John was a prophet.


20:7 So they replied that they did not know where it came from.


After their deliberations they told Jesus that they did not where John had his authority from.  This was to save their own neck and at the same time cover their rejection of John's and Jesus Christ's teaching and to acknowledge that the Lord's authority was of God.


20:8 Then Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by whose authority I do these things."


As they were not prepared to give Jesus a proper answer so He refused to tell them by whose authority He was doing the things He did.


Traitorous Leaders


20:9 Then he began to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and went on a journey for a long time.


Following on from this encounter with the Pharisees, the scribes and members of the Sanhedrin Jesus tells a parable which shows their treachery to the work that God had entrusted them with to look after His people until the Christ should come.  The vineyard being His chosen people Israel and the vinedressers being the leaders who God had given them (Isa. 5:1-7)


20:10 When harvest time came, he sent a slave to the tenants so that they would give him his portion of the crop. However, the tenants beat his slave and sent him away empty-handed.


When the time came to gather the grapes He sent a servant to the vinedressers to obtain some of the fruit of his vineyard.   But the vinedressers attacked and beat him then sent him back empty handed.   Remember that the vinedressers were not the owners of the vineyard they were just caring for it.


20:11 So he sent another slave. They beat this one too, treated him outrageously, and sent him away empty-handed.


So he sent another servant and they did the same to that one beating and insulting him and sending him away with nothing.


20:12 So he sent still a third. They even wounded this one, and threw him out.


The owner was very patient with these people he sent yet another servant and they inflicted a wound upon him and chased him away.   These three servants typify the many prophets that God had sent to Israel and particularly their leaders who treated them with scorn (Matt. 23:30-35).


20:13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What should I do? I will send my one dear son; perhaps they will respect him.'


Having treated his servants, the prophets, in this way the owner wondered what he could do next to receive that which was due to him.   Finally he decided to sent his beloved son thinking that perhaps they would respect him.


20:14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to one another, 'This is the heir; let's kill him so the inheritance will be ours!'


When the vinedressers, tenant farmers, saw his son, the heir to the estate, they conspired to kill him and steal the inheritance.


20:15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?


This they did dragging him out of the vineyard they murdered him.   Having told this parable in the hearing of the Pharisees, the scribes and members of the Sanhedrin Jesus asks them what will the owner of the vineyard do ?


20:16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others." When the people heard this, they said, "May this never happen!"


Jesus answers the question Himself. The owner will come and put an end to those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Those to whom Jesus applied this parable understood the meaning of what He was saying. God would take off them what He had entrusted them with and give it to others. They retorting "no this will never happen".


20:17 But Jesus looked straight at them and said, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone'?


Jesus looking straight at them asked what was the meaning then of the scripture in Psalm 118:22-23 'The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.'


20:18 Everyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and the one on whom it falls will be crushed."


The stone is the Lord Jesus Christ whom God sent to his own people the Jews and to the world.   Whoever  stumbles in unbelief and rejection of Him will endanger themselves.  In the day when Jesus Christ shall judge the world in righteousness He, as the stone, will fall upon them and completely destroy them (Acts 17:31).


20:19 Then the experts in the law and the chief priests wanted to arrest him that very hour, because they realized he had told this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.


The leaders of the people knew that Jesus had spoken this parable against them so they wanted to arrest Him then and there but they were afraid of the people.


A Question of Ownership


20:20 Then they watched him carefully and sent spies who pretended to be sincere. They wanted to take advantage of what he might say so that they could deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.


From this time on the chief priests and leaders of the Sanhedrin sent out spies who pretending to be honest men followed Jesus in order to catch and deliver Him over to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.


20:21 Thus they asked him, "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach correctly, and show no partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.


At one time they approached Jesus calling Him Teacher saying that they knew that what He taught  was true and right and that He was not influenced by anyone. This they said not believing or excepting it in any way.


20:22-24 Is it right for us to pay the tribute tax to Caesar or not?" But Jesus perceived their deceit and said to them, "Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?" They said, "Caesar's."


They asked Jesus if it was right that they being Jews should pay tax to Caesar.  But Jesus knew that they were only asking this question to trick Him. He asks them to give Him a denarius coin.  Holding it before Him He asks them whose face is imprinted on the coin and what does the words written on it say. They answer that it is Caesar's the words state that the coin belongs to him. It was Caesar who had ordered it to be minted and it was by his authority that it was used as coinage.


20:25 So he said to them, "Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."


Jesus tells them that as this was so they should give back to Caesar's the things that belonged to him and give to God that which is His. As we are made in God's image by God therefore are lives our souls our whole beings belongs to Him and we should give ourselves completely to worship and serve Him (Gen. 1:26-27 and 1 Cor. 6:22).


20:26 Thus they were unable in the presence of the people to trap him with his own words. And stunned by his answer, they fell silent.


They could not trip Him up by the words He spoke before all the people so they being amazed by His answer said nothing more.


A Question of the Resurrection


20:27 Now some Sadducees (who contend that there is no resurrection) came to him.


It was now the turn of the Sadducees to have a go at the Lord Jesus Christ.   They did not believe in the resurrection from the dead, so they were of all men most miserable as Paul says (1 Cor. 15:16-21).


20:28-31 They asked him, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies leaving a wife but no children, that man must marry the widow and father children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died without children. The second and then the third married her, and in this same way all seven died, leaving no children.


They try to trick Him by first quoting the law of Moses (Deut. 25:5-6) and then citing an hypothetical (supposed) situation where a man who had six brothers had a wife and he died without having any children. In turn they all took her as wife according to the law of Moses and they all died childless.


20:32 Finally the woman died too.


Finally the woman herself died.


20:33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For all seven had married her."


So having had seven husbands whose wife will she be after the resurrection ?


20:34-35 So Jesus said to them, "The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are regarded as worthy to share in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.


Jesus tells them that marriage is only for this life on earth.  Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour will be raised from the dead unto eternal life and in the life that is to be there will be no marrying.


20:36 In fact, they can no longer die, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, since they are sons of the resurrection.


These can never die again for they shall be angel-like and are sons of God because they are the children of the resurrection (Rev. 21:4).


20:37 But even Moses revealed that the dead are raised 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.


The Sadducees had quoted Moses at Jesus so now He  quotes Moses back at them.   When God revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush He said to Moses that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and of Jacob (Exodus 3:6).


20:38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live before him."


In doing this He showed Himself to be the God of the living not of the dead, to the Eternal God all are alive whether in the body or out of it.


20:39 Then some of the experts in the law answered, "Teacher, you have spoken well!"


Some of the teachers of the religious law who were standing by applauded Him for the truth He had spoken.


20:40 For they did not dare any longer to ask him anything.


After this encounter no one dared to question Him anymore.


Who is Lord?


20:41 But he said to them, "How is it that they say that the Christ is David's son?


He asked these teachers how it is that they say that the Messiah, Christ, is the Son of David?


20:42-43 For David himself says in the book of Psalms, 'The Lord said to my lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." '


For David wrote in Psalm 110:1 that "the LORD" (capital letters) the word used in the Psalm is Yahweh said to "my Lord" that is to David's Lord who is Jesus Christ the Son of God, "sit at my right hand"  (Mark 16:19). Until the time when all of God's enemies will be under His foot (1 Cor. 15:24-28).


20:44 If David then calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?"


Since David calls the Messiah, Christ, LORD how can He be his Son?   In John 8:58 Jesus declared that before Abraham was, I AM.  As Jesus Christ was before David He cannot be His Son.


The Scribes' Hypocrisy


20:45-46 As all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, "Beware of the experts in the law. They like walking around in long robes, and they love elaborate greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.


Addressing His disciples in the hearing of all the people Jesus warned them about the hypocrisy of the scribes, the teachers of the law. They make a big show of themselves going around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect as they walk around the marketplaces. They loved to sit in the front seats of honour in the synagogues and to be given the best places at feasts.


20:47 They devour widows' property, and as a show make long prayers. They will receive a more severe punishment."


In their hearts they were not as they appeared to be it was all a cover up, a pretense at being Godly. They prayed long prayers but they were only empty words. In reality they cheated widows out of their property (Isa. 10:2, Micah 2:2, and Titus 1:16). Because of this they will be severely punished.      


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