Bible Study: Luke, Chapter Twenty
Transcript: Today we are going to continue our Bible study and we will be studying Luke Chapter 20 in depth. You can follow along in your own Bible if you like. I will be reading from the World English Bible because it is copyright free.
After the meeting today, or sometime this week, please take the matching quiz that I have prepared for you on the website. For those that are having problems with the quizzes, we are now including the questions at the bottom of the teaching. Thanks to everyone that has participated so far. Let’s get started:
First, let’s set our location. Jesus and the disciples have now made it to Jerusalem and Jesus has driven the money changers out of the temple there. There is a lot of history here. David had asked God if he could build Him a house in 1 Chronicles 17:1-15 but God told him no. Instead, he was told to gather the materials and his son Solomon would build it. David was a man of war, Solomon was a man of peace. So the original temple in Jerusalem was designed and paid for by King David near the end of his life, but his son Solomon built it around 832 BC (1Chronicles 28:11). Now all of these dates are estimations at this point for every source I found varied somewhat.
The first temple stood until Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed it in the siege of Jerusalem in 587 BC. The whole book of Jeremiah leads up to this siege, and Lamentations was written after it. The Jewish people went into exile for 70 years, as was prophesied in Jeremiah 29:10. The book of Daniel tells us that he and his friends lived during this era, and served under Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was the guy who built the big golden statue for the people to worship, and the fiery furnace to throw them in if they didn’t.
When the 70 years of exile was completed, Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, and Ezra returned with a small remnant of the Jewish people and soon began rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell us about this time. This was called “the second temple” and it was not as elaborate as the first one, because the country had recently been destroyed and looted. Ezra 3:12 tells us that when the foundations were laid for the second temple, the people who remembered the first one began to weep.
Herod the Great began to renovate and expand the second temple about 20 BC, before Jesus was born, and He made it into his masterpiece. It was twice as big as the original, and was a beautiful, elaborate temple, with an abundance of gold and ivory. In Mark 13:1 a disciple of Jesus spoke in wonder of how beautiful the buildings were, and Jesus told him that not one stone would be left upon another.
Herod’s temple covered an area the size of twenty football fields, was over ten stories tall, the west wall was as long as 4 1/2 football fields. It was a busy, bustling place that hosted more than 100,000 visitors during the holidays. John 2:20 tells us that when Jesus was there, that the temple had been under construction for 46 years, and they continued working on it until about 63 AD. Then the Romans destroyed it only 7 years after it was finished in 70 AD.
Jesus was teaching in the courtyard’s of Herod’s renovated temple in Jerusalem. He would not have been allowed to go inside the temple itself, as only priests could enter there. That is where this chapter took place.
Luke Chapter 20 beginning in verse 1 reading from the World English Bible: On one of those days, as he was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the Good News, the priests and scribes came to him with the elders.
Jesus didn’t seek out these great debates with the religious leaders, but they sought Him out while He was teaching the people. When the questioners did come, He was more than able to handle them. The religious leaders here began to question Him, hoping to trap Him in His words.
2 They asked him, “Tell us: by what authority do you do these things? Or who is giving you this authority?”
They were mainly upset about Jesus driving the corrupt merchants out of the temple earlier, and they wanted to know who gave Him the authority to do that. If Jesus said that God gave Him the authority, they would charge Him with blasphemy and have grounds to arrest Him.
3 He answered them, “I also will ask you one question. Tell me: 4 the baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men?”
Jesus countered their question, with a simple question. It caused quite a stir because the religious leaders were not concerned with the facts, but only with the effects. What would the people think? The truth of their answer was not even considered or weighed, only the outcome.
Jesus asked them about “the baptism of John: was it from heaven, or from men?” John the Baptizer was a prominent religious figure who was obviously anointed by God, but John also testified that Jesus was the Messiah (John 1:34). That brought the men to a crossroad and they could not answer either way.
5 They reasoned with themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” 7 They answered that they didn’t know where it was from. 8 Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
They had painted themselves into a corner. If they admitted that John was sent by God, they would also be admitting that Jesus was sent by God as well, and expose the fact that the religious elite didn’t support either of them. They would loved to have answered “from men” but they feared that the people might stone them because all the common people believed that John was a true prophet sent by God. They would not give an answer to His question, so Jesus did not answer theirs.
9 He began to tell the people this parable. “A man planted a vineyard, and rented it out to some farmers, and went into another country for a long time.
Jesus was speaking to a Jewish audience who knew that in Isaiah 5:1, God used a vineyard as a picture of Israel. In this parable, the vinedressers represent the religious leaders of the Jewish people. Recent studies has shown that wealthy absentee landlords owned much of Galilee’s land. This type of land agreement was common in Jesus’ day and it is a bit like share cropping. A wealthy person owns the land, but lets others farm it in return for a portion of the crop. It was common to charge from 1/4, up to 1/2 of the crop.
10 At the proper season, he sent a servant to the farmers to collect his share of the fruit of the vineyard. But the farmers beat him, and sent him away empty. 11 He sent yet another servant, and they also beat him, and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. 12 He sent yet a third, and they also wounded him, and threw him out. 13 The lord of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. It may be that seeing him, they will respect him.’
14 “But when the farmers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’
In Jesus’ day, titles and deeds were sketchy, so anyone that had the use of land for three years was presumed to own it, unless there was an alternative claim. When the son came to collect, the farmers may have thought that the father had died, and now if they killed him they would own the property.
15 They threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy these farmers, and will give the vineyard to others.” When they heard that, they said, “May that never be!”
In this parable, Jesus answers the religious leaders’ question about his authority, He showed them that he knew about their plan to kill him, and He revealed the judgment that awaited them afterwards. I believe the characters are easily identified and the religious leaders immediately understood it. The owner of the vineyard is God, the vineyard is Israel, the tenant farmers are the religious leaders, the servants are the prophets and priests that God had sent to Israel, the Son is Jesus the Messiah, and the others are the Gentiles.
God had sent messenger after messenger to Israel: (Neh. 9:26; Jer. 7:25; 25:4–7; Matt. 23:34; Acts 7:52; Heb. 11:36–38;) but they beat them, killed them, and rejected His message. Then God sent His own Son Jesus to them. This was the pinnacle, for He was not a prophet, but the Son of God. The religious leaders treated Jesus the same way that the farmers treated the son in the parable. The leaders got the message but they could not believe that God would take anything away from the “chosen ones” and give it to the cursed gentiles, so they said “May that never be!”
17 But he looked at them and said, “Then what is this that is written, ‘The stone which the builders rejected was made the chief cornerstone?’ 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but it will crush whomever it falls on to dust.”
Jesus points them to a favorite scripture of the early church (Psalm 118:22, Acts 4:11, 1Peter 2:7): the Cornerstone. A cornerstone was a huge stone that tied walls together and it was of great importance. All the other stones, aligned with this stone. Psalm 118:2 tells us that the stone which the builders rejected was made the chief cornerstone. This scripture that was written hundreds of years before, pointed to Jesus. They would reject Him, but God’s purpose would still be accomplished. Whoever falls on Jesus will be broken of their pride and selfishness, but those who reject Him will be one day be crushed in judgement.
19 The chief priests and the scribes sought to lay hands on him that very hour, but they feared the people—for they knew he had spoken this parable against them. 20 They watched him and sent out spies, who pretended to be righteous, that they might trap him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the power and authority of the governor.
The religious leaders of Israel sent out spies who pretended to be righteous, while all the time they were trying to trap Jesus into saying something wrong so that He could be arrested. It is amazing how low, and far away from God, religion can make a man. They begin to view Jesus as their number-one enemy.
21 They asked him, “Teacher, we know that you say and teach what is right, and aren’t partial to anyone, but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
First they asked Jesus “Is it lawful to pay taxes?”, but Jesus perceived what they were doing. Nobody liked paying taxes to the Romans, so a question like this would either get Jesus into trouble with the Romans who wanted the taxes paid, or with the Jews who did not. This would hopefully drive a wedge between Jesus and the people, or get Him in trouble with the Romans and they would arrest Him for teaching the people to not pay taxes.
23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test me? 24 Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” They answered, “Caesar’s.”
Jesus asked them to show Him a denarius and then asked whose image and inscription was on it. They answered “Caesar’s.” The Roman denarius was a silver Roman coin, weighing about 3.8 grams, that had the portrait and inscription of Caesar (Matt. 22:19 par. Mark 12:15; Luke 20:24). It was equal in value to the drachma coin (Luke 15:8).
The denarius was the standard wage for a day’s work of common labor jobs, like fruit picking, which means that the two hundred denarii needed to buy bread for the hungry crowd at the Sea of Galilee would have been about eight months’ wages (Mark 6:37; John 6:7). The jar of ointment which the woman used to anoint Jesus would have cost more than a year’s wages (Mark 14:5).
The common people had a high regard for Jesus, and that had kept Him from being arrested, so far. Now the enemies of Jesus tried to turn public opinion against Him by making Jesus appear to side with the Roman government which was occupying Israel. They tried and make Him pick a side and if He said that Jews should pay taxes to the Romans, the people would dislike it. If He said that the Jews should not pay taxes, then the Romans would brand Him as a revolutionary and might execute Him. It was a clever trick and either answer would condemn Him.
25 He said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 They weren’t able to trap him in his words before the people. They marveled at his answer and were silent.
Again, they were not able to trap Jesus in His words for the Holy Spirit always gave Him what to say. Jesus told them to give Caesar what was His, God the things that are God’s, and no one could argue with that. We have our first loyalty to God, and then loyalty to our country, but God always comes first in our life. If the country comes between us and God, they are out of their jurisdiction. We are citizens of heaven and earth at the same time.
It is worth noting that it does not matter how good an answer you give, wicked people will still pervert your good words, just as they did to Jesus. In Luke 23:2, they accused Jesus of forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, when He actually said the exact opposite.
Israel was subject to the Romans because they had not given their loyalty to God in the first place. After repeatedly stoning His prophets and ignoring His voice they continued on in stubborn disobedience until God allowed them to be conquered. Here in this chapter, the religious leaders consider God their enemy. How blind can we be? It is scary to think that someone who diligently searches the scriptures as the priests did, can be so very wrong. Why is God not welcome in His own house, built for His honor?
27 Some of the Sadducees came to him, those who deny that there is a resurrection.
There were two main religious groups at that time, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees followed an “oral tradition” that accompanied the written law while the Sadducees rejected the “oral torah” and only followed the written law of Moses. The Sadducees were well educated, sophisticated, influential and wealthy. They did not believe in immortality, spirits or angels.
In Acts 23:6 Paul turned them against one another by saying that he was both the son of a Pharisee and because he believed in the resurrection of the dead. While he was being judged, they began to argue amongst themselves.
28 They asked him, “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies having a wife, and he is childless, his brother should take the wife and raise up children for his brother. 29 There were therefore seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died childless. 30 The second took her as wife, and he died childless. 31 The third took her, and likewise the seven all left no children, and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them will she be? For the seven had her as a wife.”
After the first group of spies were silenced, a group of Sadducees began to ask Jesus questions about marriage in heaven, after the resurrection. They wanted to prove their theory about a resurrection being impossible because it did not agree with the written law in Deuteronomy 25:5.
The verse in Deuteronomy 25 is part of being a kinsmen redeemer. Verse 5-10 states that if two brothers live together, and one of them dies without leaving a male heir, his brother shall marry his widow, and the first son of their union shall take the name of the brother who died. The purpose of the law obviously was to provide an heir for the dead brother. If the nearest kinsman failed to exercise this right, then another member of the family could take up the right as the kinsman redeemer. This happened in Ruth 4:1–12 when Boaz married Ruth and they had Obed, who became King David’s grandfather. By New Testament times, this practice was not used so the question was only to prove there was no resurrection. The Sadducees probably used this question to stump the Pharisees regularly as they considered it unanswerable.
34 Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry, and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 For they can’t die any more, for they are like the angels, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.
Human relationships are designed to populate the earth and are largely a matter of time and place. For example, a man can be a son, then an adult, then a husband, then a father, and so on, but in heaven, all that will change. Heaven will not be an extension of this life, but something glorious and totally different. Yes, I know it is difficult for us to think that we will not be married to a spouse who we love dearly. I get that, but I believe that the greatest happiness that we can experience here, is only a brief glimpse of the joy that is to come.
We love our spouses because they complete us, but there, we will all be complete, including our spouses. We seek companionship so we will not be lonely, but there will be no loneliness in heaven. We feel safe when we are around them, but in heaven we will all be safe, all the time. We love our spouses because we can trust them, but in heaven, we can trust everyone that actually made it. We love our spouses because we share life together, but there we will be sharing life with all of our loved ones and countless wonderful people, including our spouses.
There will be no more sin, there will be no betrayal, there will be no lies, there will be no hurting, there will be no tears of sadness, there will be no more sickness, there will be no more death. We will be like the angels, immortal, exalted, and living above physical needs.
Jesus was not teaching that people will not recognize their spouses in heaven, I believe that we will love our spouses even more there than we do now. It is not exclusive, but inclusive. Nor was Jesus doing away with sexual differences or teaching that people will become asexual beings after death. Nor was he teaching that the angels are asexual. In fact, little can be learned about sex and marriage in heaven from this one statement by Jesus. His point was simply that people must not think of the next life as an extension of the life that they know. It will be something new and wonderful, and those that make it will be extremely pleased with the setup. Heaven will not be a downgrade from the earth.
37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord ‘The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 Now he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all are alive to him.” 39 Some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you speak well.” 40 They didn’t dare to ask him any more questions.
Jesus then showed the Sadducees, who did not believe in a resurrection, that it was in fact mentioned in the scriptures that they were reading, but they did not see it. In Exodus 3:1 when Moses was at the burning bush, God said “I AM” the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, though they had been long dead. In other words, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob were, from God’s perspective, still alive. To God, everyone is alive. Earthly life and death are just dealing with our physical bodies, but our spirits will live forever. Some of the scribes recognized that Jesus had answered well, and they stopped asking Him questions.
41 He said to them, “Why do they say that the Christ is David’s son? 42 David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 43 until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet.” ’ 44 “David therefore calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”
Jesus then asked them a question based on Psalm 110. The scribes all referred to the Christ as David’s son, but David himself called him Lord. They were looking for an earthly king to follow the path of David and to conquer all of Israel’s enemies, like Rome. Jesus explained that the Messiah was Lord of Lords, not just another king.
45 In the hearing of all the people, he said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of those scribes who like to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts; 47 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these will receive greater condemnation.”
The scribes wore long flowing robes which were a sign of distinction and marked them as gentlemen of leisure. They were not the working class. Public greetings and the best seats in the synagogues were some of their favorite things. While they appeared as a shining light before men, they did not appear that way to God because He saw their hearts. They exploited the poor and then made long prayers to cover it up. Jesus said that these would receive greater condemnation.
The scribes represent a complete contrast to the picture of how a disciple should live: as a servant, as a child, as one carrying a cross. Jesus said we should notice what they do, as well as what they say, and especially that we should notice their destiny.
The scribes were professionals at projecting a religious image to the world. They looked so pure and holy, but God saw their hearts. The point is that putting on your best clothes and your church face does not fool God into thinking that you are someone else.
That concludes our Bible study on Luke Chapter 20. Thank you for watching and being a part of Refreshing Hope!
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