Skip to main content

In Answering: Luke 20

In Summary:

Luke 20 sees the chief priests and elders confronting Jesus. Again. This is habit of theirs. It’s an ineffective habit, but a habit nonetheless. Perhaps we can learn something right here from the chief priests and elders: if you find yourself constantly arguing and losing, maybe you’re wrong? It’s worth considering.

They come and confront Jesus with a question about his authority to do what he is doing. The likely inciting incident for this direct question is the cleansing of the Temple—they want to know how Jesus thinks he has the right to say what can and cannot happen in the worship center of the people of Israel. Rather than answer them directly, Jesus gives them a question to deal with. Here we see that Jesus is not only the master of answering trap questions, but also the master of asking questions. He hits them with a choice: speak the truth or be politically expedient. They fail and try to equivocate.

The remainder of Luke 20 sees a continued effort by the religious leaders to stymie Jesus. They toss various questions at him and are dissatisfied with the answers. They’re also undaunted in their efforts by the answers. Here’s a question for most of us: are we more interested in getting answers or asking questions?

In Focus:

As in the last few chapters, Luke gives us one of Jesus’ parables in the midst of the other activities. The parable of the vineyard serves is the hinge for this chapter, and so draws our focus. The action after the parable is driven by the response of the religious leaders to Jesus telling it.

First, though, consider that Jesus tells this parable after silencing his critics, again. He is not out to silence critics: he is out to proclaim the Kingdom of God. We would do well to gather that truth. Be more concerned with proclaiming the Kingdom. We may have to stir up the critics a second time, but we cannot be satisfied with being “right.” We must share God’s loving truth.

Now, the parable of the vineyard runs a familiar story line for Jesus’ parables. There is a metaphor for God’s Kingdom. This time, a vineyard fills that role. There are people who are the initial participants in the Kingdom. These are vine-growers (or tenant farmers.) There is the stand-in for God, in this case the owner (or “lord”) of the vineyard.

The vineyard makes its produce and the owner sends for his share. The tenant farmers decide that they will not give it—so they refuse with violence. The violence escalates alongside their refusals until there are no servants left to mistreat. At this point, they kill the son of the vineyard owner, expecting that this will allow them to claim the inheritance that should be his.

Jesus points out that the result will not be what the vine-growers expect. Instead, their violent refusals to recognize the vineyard owner’s authority will be met with violence, and the vineyard will go others. Jesus was teaching that the religious leaders would not be permitted to hold the Kingdom of God hostage to their personal preferences and profits. Keep in mind, this is told in response to the religious response to cleansing the Temple: Jesus made a direct assault on religion-for-profit. Now he makes a didactic (teaching) follow-up on the principle. Verse 19 tells us that his target audience understood him exactly. And they were not pleased.

In Practice:

When we look at this for practical application, two things jump out. First, the vineyard belongs to God. Whatever our preferences, the Lord God sets the rules. Not us. We are commanded to bear fruit and to bear the fruit that God calls for from our lives. Too often, we spend our time and effort setting our definitions of fruitfulness and living up to those. That’s not our place.

Second, we want to define our reward for our work. But the inheritance is not ours, nor are the fruits of our labors. Instead, we rely on the gracious lord of the vineyard to provide what we need. Our work is constant—like tending a vineyard—but our reward is in pleasing the master, not in claiming our own rewards.

In Nerdiness: 

There are two follow-on questions that Jesus deals with in Luke 20. They are the typical response of the theologically curious when we don’t want to deal with the implications of what we are being taught. The questions on taxes and marriage? They point to obvious answers but ultimately are side-points to the real issue.


Don’t get so bogged down on the nerd side that you miss the main point. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Book: By the Waters of Babylon

Worship. It is what the church does as we strive to honor God with our lips and our lives. And then, many churches argue about worship. I have about a half-dozen books on my shelf about worship, but adding Scott Aniol’s By the Waters of Babylon to the shelf has been excellent.

First of all, Aniol’s work is not based on solving a musical debate. While that branch of worship is often the most troublesome in the local church, By the Waters of Babylon takes a broader view. The starting point is the place of the church. That place is a parallel of Psalm 137, where the people of God, Israel, found themselves in a strange land. The people of God, again, find themselves in a strange land.
Second, in summary, the book works logically to the text of Scripture, primarily Psalm 137 but well-filled with other passages. Then it works outward from how the text addresses the problems submitted in the first chapter into how worship, specifically corporate worship, should look in the 21st century Weste…

Sermon Recap for October 14

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/east-end-baptist-church/id387911457?mt=2 for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here: http://eebcar.libsyn.com/rssThe video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJBGluSoaJgYn6PbIklwKaw?view_as=publicSermons are stockpiled here: http://www.doughibbard.com/search/label/SermonsThanks!