The Book of Luke, The Authority of Christ, Part I - Lesson 209
Luke 20:1-19, And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders, 2And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority? 3And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: 4The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? 5And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not? 6But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. 7And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was. 8And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. 9Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. 10And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. 11And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. 12And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. 13Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. 14But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. 15So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? 16He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid. 17And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? 18Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 19And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.
This confrontation with the authorities of Jerusalem occurs during the week which will end with the crucifixion of Christ.
We have seen how He has entered Jerusalem with authority as if He is the owner of the city.
He has healed the infirm and the blind, saved the lost, eaten with sinners, ridden into the city on the back of a donkey as prophesied by Zechariah, and has cleansed the temple court of the robber merchants and those who bought from them.
He has swept clean, what God meant to be the house of prayer, the animals and the corruption that the priests allowed in the temple court for their personal gain.
Wherever Jesus Christ went, he went with authority for he has all authority.
The writer of the book of Hebrews called Him the author and finisher of our faith.
Hebrews 12:2, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus Christ authored our faith.
As the author of our faith he is the supreme authority, for to author, is to bring into being.
An author is the first mover of any thing, he is the cause of a thing.
In the case of authoring a book an author brings a book into being that never had before existed.
A translator is not an author because he or she was not the first cause of the thing being translated.
This difference was observed in our Lord Jesus Christ by the people when he finished the Sermon on the Mount as we read in:
Matthew 7:28,29, And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
He taught them as one having authority means He taught them as one who authored the words he spoke.
This was compared to the scribes who were trained in writing skills and used to record events and decisions.
Scribes were students of the law, they interpreted the law, they taught it to disciples, and were experts in cases where people were accused of breaking the law of Moses.
But Jesus Christ taught them as one having authorship and not as one who interpreted the author.
He taught them as one who wrote the law and not simply as one who interpreted the law.
Now the Pharisees, the scribes and the priests were not authors and were not used to dealing with authors.
They were not accustomed to dealing with those who had the authority of authors.
So after tasting Christís authority relative to his entry into Jerusalem, they were alarmed in such a way:
that the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders, 2And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?
Now what was really happening here?
Why do they come to Him with this question?
The answer lies in the fact that there are two authorities on a collision course and that collision took place in the temple courts.
For the chief priests and the elders also had God given authority, but that authority had been abused.
They had so corrupted the Word of God, that collision was inevitable.
The Lord marched upon Jerusalem, to a large degree, to rebuke the leadership of Israel for the abuse of their authority.
God loves justice and justice was being denied by the powers in Israel.
This one collision in the temple courts was only one example.
We have seen the collision of authorities throughout our study of the book of Luke but this collision seems to be the climax that moves the chief priests and the elders to the conclusion that they had planned, the death of this man for the benefit of the nation.
His entrance into the temple, His cleansing of it, and His taking possession of it to teach daily there, was proof of His authority to possess and make use of His temple.
This is where the rubber meets the road, for if Jesus would claim such authority, it was in direct competition with the "authorities" of Jerusalem, who saw themselves as the ones with authority.
This leads to a major confrontation which will conclude in the crucifixion of our Lord on the cross of Calvary.
Jesus, by His authoritative actions, announced His identity as Israelís Messiah.
He possessed the donkeys, the praise of the people, and finally He took possession of His temple.
Up to this point in the ministry of Christ, the main opposition has been from the party of the Pharisees, who have been ruthless in their efforts to find offenses in him.
These Pharisees, we are told in other places of Luke, visited Christ on behalf of the authorities in Jerusalem but they did have full authority to deal with him as the chief priest and elders do in Jerusalem.
But because of the Lordís possession of His temple the big guns, the chief priest and the elders, are now confronting him and questioning Him as to what authority he is operating under and who gave him this authority.
They perhaps had not been very concerned about the activities of this Galilean preacher in the outlying parts of Israel but fully became threatened when Jesus invaded their territory, including the temple.
They wanted to stop Him, but His popularity with the people was too great to challenge.
So they waited for their chance to oppose him.
And their opposition came in the form of an official challenge to the authority by which Jesus did the things He had done.
And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders, 2And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?
It was bad enough that Jesus had entered Jerusalem as He had.
It was a great blow to the owners of the concession stands when Jesus drove the merchants from the temple.
But when He took over the temple, teaching there daily, this was too much to bear.
They believed the temple was their territory and their place to operate without hindrance and they confronted Jesus because he had taken over there and taught daily/
Their challenge came as a question concerning His authority.
Their first challenge was: Just who do you think you are to do these things, anyway?
Their second challenge was: Who gave you the authority to do these things?
The first question has to do with Jesusí personal authority.
Jesus was acting as though He owned the place, which we who believe on Him, know He did.
His simple answer would have been, "I am the Messiah."
But this answer would have been outrageous to the leaders and they would have none of that.
The second question had to do with Jesus official accreditation.
Who sent Him? These leaders seemed to think that they were the accrediting agency for God.
Jesus had not received their permission to come to town as He had, or to accept menís praise, or to take over the temple.
If the nationís highest spiritual leadership had not authorized Jesus, who had?
That was the issue. It was the issue of authority, both Jesus innate authority, and His delegated authority.
These are questions that all who receive Christ as their Lord must ask and have answered.
And God will answer sincere questions but the motivation of these leaderís questions was not based on a desire for truth.
Truth is that Jesus is the divine Son of God, the One sent from God, and because of this he has full authority to say and to do as He pleases.
He has the right to possess all things, as well as to proclaim His word as truth.
The Apostle Paul writes of Him in Col. 1:16-17, For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
The Chief Priest was standing before the One who kept all of the planets in their courses, the One who kept the rocks of the Earth from flying out to space, even the One who ordered every molecule of the priestís body to stay in its place.
For by Him all things consist.
But the Jerusalem leaders rejected Him as the divine Son of God and rejected His teaching and had no intention of accepting his claim of authority over them.
One thing you can be sure of is that Jesus Christ does not cast His pearls before swine.
He was not about to reveal himself as Messiah to the chief priest, the scribes and the elders.
So he answered and said unto them: I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: 4The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? 5And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not? 6But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. 7And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was. 8And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
He did this to reveal them as swine for they were not interested in truth.
John the Baptist had introduced Jesus to Israel as the Messiah.
If the Jerusalem leaders were going to pronounce on Jesusí authority, they would also have to deal with Johnís, for if John was a true prophet who was here to speak for God, then Jesus was the Messiah.
Jesus forced His opponents to deal with the testimony of John before He would bear witness to Himself.
If they refused to accept Johnís witness, then they certainly would not receive Jesusí word either.
Before Jesus answered their questions he placed them into a position to declare themselves, as to Johnís authority.
What authority did John have? Who sent John?
If they would answer this question, then Jesus would answer theirs.
Jesus gave them two choices from which to choose.
The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?
Was his authority given from men or from God?
One lesson to be learned here is to not get into a battle of words with the Word of God.
The Word of God always is victorious.
So Jesus pressed His opponents to declare whether Johnís authority was from God, or whether John was simply acting on his own.
Was he simply a lone ranger or was he sent from God?
Now here standing in their midst is Truth Himself, Jesus Christ.
If they had been interested in truth they would have asked in sincerity but they did not ask these question with a view of learning the truth.
These corrupt leaders are not interested in truth, but are interested in consequences.
They have their minds made up already, but they lack the courage to speak up and to have the crowds hear them.
They differ with the majority.
The majority held John to be a prophet.
But they rejected him as a prophet.
So they must consider the consequences of any answer they might give.
They sound far more like politicians here than they do spiritual leaders for they are interested in political correctness.
What will the people do if we say this or that?
This is their prime concern. They do not wish to lose their position or power.
And so the whole discussion is merely practical.
They could not say what they really believed, and so they had to say "We donít know!".
How painful this must have been for these experts in their religion to say that they did not know something.
For those whose authority was based on their "knowing all," this was a kiss of death.
And since they refused to answer, Jesus refused to answer as well.
How could they demand an answer when they would not answer either?