Week Six of 42 Days through Good News according to Luke

Luke 20:1-26 — Jesus challenged


1 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. 2 “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”

3 He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, 4 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

5 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”

7 So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”

8 Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

9 He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”

17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:

“ ‘The stone the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.

20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are
on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.


Points of Interest:

  • (v.1) “together with the elders”—the elders were members of the Jewish aristocracy who were neither priests nor teachers of the law (Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels 201).
  • (v.8) “Neither will I tell you”—Jesus sees through their avoidance; it’s not that they can’t answer but that they won’t. Since they refuse to answer Him, He refuses to answer them as well. Their unwillingness to recognize John leads to an inability to see Jesus for who He is.
  • (v.9) “A man planted a vineyard”—Jesus is using a story from Isaiah (Isaiah 5:1-7) as the basis for his own story. Isaiah’s story ends like this:

The vineyard of the Lord Almighty

is the house of Israel,

and the people of Judah

are the vines he delighted in.

And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;

for righteousness, but heard cries of distress (Isaiah 5:7).

  • This vineyard to whom Jesus is referring is Israel, or Judah, and God is the builder and owner of that vineyard. Jesus adds a new set of characters—the tenants—to Isaiah’s story. The chief priests, teachers, and elders are the tenants.
  • (v.13) “I will send my son, whom I love”—this is an echo of God the Father’s words about Jesus at Jesus’ baptism (3:22). It’s the answer to the priests’ question regarding Jesus’ authority. Jesus is God’s Son, sent by
  • Him, with His authority.
  • (v.17) “The stone the builders rejected”—this is Psalm 118:22. It’s the same psalm from which the people were singing, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” in yesterday’s passage. It’s a song of thanks for God’s rescue.
  • (v.25) “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”—Jesus looks at a coin and says, “Well, it seems to have Caesar’s name and picture on it; so, I guess it must belong to him. We should give it back.” Jesus answers their question forthrightly, but in a way that completely avoids making any political statements, either for or against Rome.


Taking it home:

  • For you: The tenants in the vineyard start off just wanting to hold back a little fruit from the owner, but they end up killing his son. I think greed often starts small, but grows quickly out of control. Pray that God would protect you from greed. Ask God to point out any small entrance points for greed in your life, and ask Him to give you the strength to refuse to give in to it.
  • For your Six: Pray that God would remove any barriers to your Six seeing or believing truth—whether it be truth about themselves, about God, or about something else. Also pray that the truth, when they do see it and embrace it, would be of great benefit in their lives. Particularly ask God to give them the boldness to accept truths that it might be difficult for them to admit.
  • For our church/ILTJ: Jesus said to “give to Caesar what is Caesars, and to God what is God’s.” In the same way, although we live within the expectations of our society and government, our ultimate value is God. Pray that our church would live out this ultimate value, even in times when God and society are in conflict.