Summary: Outward appearances were the focus of the religious leaders, but Jesus taught a different teaching...
October 27, 2010
Set the stage:
To fully understand what is being taught in v.1-4 of chapter 21 we must remember what we learned in Chapter 20. So let’s do a bit of a review of sorts to reacclimate ourselves with what Jesus is teaching in Chapter 20…
v. 1-8 The religious leaders believed they were the conduit to God. They rested that belief on their knowledge of God’s appointment of Aaron as the 1st High Priest and the law that was given through Moses. From all outward appearances these men were God’s chosen and authorized representatives.
So who was this man Jesus? By what authority does He teach what He teaches? We have the authority based on tradition and the Law, which came from God, who does He think He is?
I believe that this thought was also prevalent with the disciples as well as we see in Luke 9:46 when they were arguing and fighting over who would have the most position and power in the ‘new kingdom’. This is the same attitude that had snared the religious leaders.
Jesus discredits the religious leaders and the disciples for their lust for this earthly power, position and prestige in what He teaches. He is focused on letting the people know the source of ALL things and that is God.
v.9-18 – Here Jesus uses a story/parable to illustrate the principle He had just taught in v.1-8. The owner = God; the workers = God’s originally appointed men; servants = prophets; son = Jesus; vineyard = nation of Israel’s spiritual protection, leadership.
v.19-26 – with their attempt to discredit Jesus by His lack of authority failing, the religious leaders scheme to trap Jesus with His words. They send in spies disguised as true believers to ask Jesus a specific question.
The plan was that NO matter how Jesus answered the question He would lose, if He answered DON’T pay your taxes to Caesar then they would report Him to Rome, but if He said that Caesar deserved tribute then they could get Him for blasphemy.
Jesus amazes them with His answer, once again casting off the focus on outward appearances and focuses on a relationship with God. With this answer the people are drawn to Jesus even more. This infuriates the religious leadership.
v. 27-47 – they seek to discredit Jesus but fail now the Sadducees try to humiliate Him with the absurdity [in their eyes] of His teaching. They pose a scenario that is based on the Leverite law of marriage within the Jewish community and based on the Law of Moses… but they take the scenario out to a ludicrous end.
Their question of who’s wife this woman would be reveals their lack of understanding about the afterlife and the things of God. Jesus rebukes them for their lack of understanding and tells them that the things of the afterlife are not like things here in this world.
Once again Jesus foils their plans for striking at the flaw of their argument. They are focused on the outward appearances and Jesus is focused on God and a relationship with Him. A relationship with God changes your heart and perspective…
Jesus then turns to the people and plainly states what He has been teaching the entire chapter. That is that the religious leaders are frauds who focus on the outward appearance but neglect the intimate and inward relationship with God. They say one thing but live totally different. Their hearts are not set to serving God but only to serving themselves. God had assigned them the task of protecting, nurturing and growing the nation spiritually and they had decided that it was all about themselves! Jesus was telling these people that these men had failed God in their duties and that God was going to remove them from their position… this happens by 70AD as the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel cease to exist as Rome scatters them to the corners of the world.
So as we look back at chapter 20 Jesus was put to the test 3 times by the religious leaders, each time foiling their attempt to discredit Him, humbling them in front of the people. Two times in chapter 20 Jesus tells of what God’s chosen protectors and leaders had become!
Jesus does this ONCE with a story of a vineyard and He ends the chapter revealing that the religious leaders whom God had established thru Aaron and the Law of Moses… to whom God had entrusted the care of His chosen people. Jesus reveals that they were FRAUDS and that they had abandoned God’s calling for selfish desires. They looked the part and played the part on the outside, but inside they were cold and lifeless and NOT what God desired.