The Gospel of Luke - Part 83
Questions and Answers — Luke 20:1-8

May 20, 2007
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

Last week, we finished Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and the event where He did the Monday morning wash, He cleansed the Temple of all the business going on. He shut down the shopping mall and the banks and the shortcuts through the Temple. We concluded that since we are each the Temple of Jesus, maybe we need to face the fact that our Temple needs to have a Monday wash, just like the Jerusalem Temple did. Maybe we need to get rid of some stuff that does not belong in Jesus’ Temple. Then we introduced Luke Chapter 20. which I entitled Questions & Answers. We spent a lot of time talking about the fact that Jesus taught by asking questions, and why He did it that way.

Today:

We are going to study about nine different questions: three that the religious leaders asked Jesus and six that Jesus asked them.  Let’s reset the stage on where we are now in the timeline of the last week of the life of Jesus.

Saturday & Sunday - Jesus in Bethany
Sunday - triumphal entry by Jesus into Jerusalem
Monday - Jesus’ cleansing of the temple

Tuesday - confrontation with the Jewish religious leaders
Wednesday - Jesus teaching His followers

The first verse gives us the context of this verse:

One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel... —Luke 20:1
Jesus spent much of His time over these last days teaching. He taught His disciples and the people publicly “in the temple courts” and then spent more time teaching the Twelve privately. You’ll see, as you read through this Chapter 20, that the questions all relate to a common theme. And that theme is authority. Who has authority over us? How are we to relate to those in authority?  Notice, also, the attitudes of the Pharisees and Sadducees. They didn't really want to know what Jesus taught. They weren't even really interested in the truth. They were just looking for a way to trip Jesus up so they could publicly condemn Him. Maybe the root issue for them was authority as well — their unwillingness to accept the authority of Jesus as the Messiah over them.

We will study Luke 20 in four sections:



Accept the Authority of Jesus:

In Luke 20, we see the conflict between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders escalating. Jesus is being more assertive concerning who He is and more critical of these leaders. The Jewish leaders are becoming more aggressive in seeking to discredit Him.

One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” —Luke 20:1-8
Why stands out in this passage? Verse 1 tells us that: the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him...

Representatives of the major religious groups all came together to challenge Jesus. Though they were divided over many issues, they were united in their opposition to Jesus. The Chief Priests play a prominent part in the Gospels; they are mentioned nearly sixty times, just in the Gospels.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says:

The chief priests were the temple officials; the teachers of the Law, often called ‘scribes,’ were made up of both Pharisees and Sadducees; and the elders may have been laymen who were political leaders. (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
The Scribes were the teachers of the Law. The Holman Bible Dictionary describes them as:
A professional group of such scribes developed by New Testament times, most being Pharisees. They interpreted the law, taught it to disciples, and were experts in cases where people were accused of breaking the law of Moses. They led in plans to kill Jesus and heard His stern rebuke. (Holman Bible Dictionary)
Notice that it wasn't just one or two people — most of the established religious leadership in Israel seems to have opposed Jesus.

Remember Jesus is teaching in the Temple. In verse 2 they ask:

Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority. —Luke 20:2
They are asking “You gave you the right to do what you are doing?” Maybe one reason why they questioned His authority was because they saw Him as threat to their authority!

Their question is good one but their attitude is not. They aren't really looking for answers; they don't really want to know. What they want is an answer from Jesus that they can twist into something to get Him in trouble. Jesus knows that full well. So He answers with a well designed question. As we discussed last week, a well designed question gets to the point often better than a direct answer.

I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? —Luke 20:3-4
Jesus answers their question with one of His own. This is a good way to take more control of a conversation — to shift from the defensive to the offensive. It's not that He's afraid of answering, but He wants to reveal their motives and attitudes. That question caused them to hold a summit:
And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. —Luke 20:5-7
Their discussion shows both their cowardice and lack of conviction. They were more concerned about what the people thought of them than they were of proclaiming the truth. As a result of their “We don’t know” answer:
And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” —Luke 29:8
Then He went on to tell the people a parable. Here again Jesus uses a story to illustrate a spiritual truth. The parable is addressed to the people, not to the religious leaders. However, the point of the story is about the Jewish leaders.

We will stop here this morning and pick up Luke’s record with the parable of the vineyard.

Pat and I are traveling the next couple of weeks, so we will pause the Luke study until I return.

Next week, Josh Speakman is going to present information about Missions here at Hoffmantown on behalf of Curtis Brickly. I had scheduled Curtis, but he needed to make an unexpected trip to Turkey in support of our mission work there. As some may know, three Christian missionaries were murdered there at the Smyrna church. Hoffmantown supports the missionary that we heard here in class a couple of weeks ago, and they are rallying there in Turkey to morally build up the Turkish Christian Church workers after the workers' murders. So Josh will give his information.

The two Sundays after Memorial Day, Dr. Earl Godwin will be presenting a lot more detail about what we learned from Mark Siljander, the linguistic scholar that I reported on from the National Prayer Breakfast. His two-week presentation could be titled: "Possible Bridges From Christianity to Islam" I recommend that you do not miss this expanded discussion of the items I skimmed across.