Summary: Allow me to set the scene. It’s Tuesday, just seventy-two hours away from His death and about sixty-four hours away from Judas’ famous kiss. So many items are going on Tuesday that we are devoting three Sundays to the happenings on Tuesday.
This a three-month long study of just one week in the life of Jesus. The power of this week lies in all that happened. And it deserves both retelling and a careful scrutiny. Bracketed by Palm Sunday on one end and Easter Sunday on the other, this is the most important week in history. On Friday, Jesus will die. On Thursday, Judas will betray Him. Today’s focus is again, on Tuesday. Tension Tuesday – for this is a day of verbal conflict between Jesus and the religious figures of His day.
And before we read our passage, allow me to set the scene. It’s Tuesday, just seventy-two hours away from His death and about sixty-four hours away from Judas’ famous kiss. So many items are going on Tuesday that we are devoting three Sundays to the happenings on Tuesday. We can call Tuesday of Holy Week or Passion Week, Tension Tuesday, for it’s a day when tensions are high. Essentially, Jesus spends much of the day debating and arguing with the religious teachers of His day. Out of this very busy day, we’ve selected five items to feature:
1) Jesus answers a question about taxes; 2) Jesus answers a question about the resurrection; 3) Jesus answers a question about the law; 4) Jesus asks a question about the Messiah; and 5) Jesus offers His opinion on the religious teachers of His day.
Again, Tuesday is a day of tension – it’s a day when Jesus argued. American history students are introduced to the Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debates where the two opponents squared off for the elimination or the expansion of slavery. The first televised Presidential debate occurred in 1960 against the backdrop of the heated Cold War with the Soviet Union. The young and dynamic senator from Massachusetts, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, stood in contrast to next to the older Vice-President, Richard Nixon, who looked terrible with little to no makeup. Since then, American political debates have cared a great deal more about their presentation. In recent days, maybe you’ve argued whether Pluto is a planet or cats vs. dogs, or even Ford vs. Chevy. More seriously, we are familiar with the debate centered around the legal decision of Roe vs. Wade ushering in abortion on demand. But on this day, Jesus debated the religious teachers on a wide range of topics. Today, we love to debate the issues of the day on our car bumpers from gun control to even Texas succession.
The first volley in their argument was a question about authority: “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” (Luke 20:2) Much of Tuesday is an attempt toward entrapment. “The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people ” (Luke 20:19). And then Jesus offers His opinion of the religious teachers of His day: “And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47 who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
We’re going to explore 3 arguments Jesus debated on this day 1) An argument about politics; 2) An argument about the afterlife; 3) And an argument about Jesus Himself. Now, each of these debates deserves a separate sermon, yet to capture all of Jesus’ week, we must move quickly.
1. Did Jesus Have a Political Party?
You start talking about Jesus and you’ll end up discussing Hilary, Trump, or Cruz in short order. And this was true in Jesus’ day as well.
“The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not” (Luke 20:19-22)?
1.1 Political Parties
Luke tells us that “spies” were sent but Matthew and Mark are more specific. They tell us that among the spies were both Pharisees and Herodians (Mark 12:13). The Herodians supported Roman power while the Pharisees did not. Here were two political/religious parties that opposed one another. And while the two parties didn’t get along, they could both agree to join together to rid themselves of Jesus. And by asking Him the question, they hoped to put Jesus on the horns a dilemma.