Focus Questions as you read through today’s study.
- When you inquire of the Lord is it because you want to know and want to see things His way or are you trying to find a loophole to get your way with something?
- When an answer is required of you by the Lord or His people are you manipulating what you say to be seen in a better light and not have your heart exposed?
- Do you diligently seek the Lord, or just read through the section of scripture and call it good? What is your motive for seeking the Lord on a specific issue, or in general?
- When we know the Holy Spirit is speaking to our hearts on a subject do we get hurt by it and huff away, or do we hear Him out and allow change to take place?
1 Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him 2 and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?”
Remember that it was just in yesterday’s reading that Jesus had cleansed the temple of those that were doing wicked in there. We have already seen many things that the Lord has spoke against the religious leaders of the day. The religious leaders really did not like Jesus much at all and it seems that after He cleansed the temple they came became set on getting rid of Him. they were hoping to trip Jesus up. They are asking what His authority was, not because they suspected He might be God and wanted to worship Him, but because they wanted Him to claim deity so that they could get Him on blaspheming. As we move through this conversation you will see it more clearly.
3 But He answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: 4 The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?”
Jesus sees that their hearts are not wanting to know, but are instead planning wickedness. Therefore He poses a question back to them, one that instead gets them trapped in their words and in their thinking.
5 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not 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 So they answered that they did not know where it was from.
It was in and through that baptism that He spoke of Christ coming soon, and John even baptized Jesus. If they say that John was a prophet of God then they must accept what he has spoken and john pointed at Jesus and said behold the Lamb of God. If they say from God then they will also being saying that Jesus is the Christ. If they say of men then they can deny the Christ Jesus is Lord, but at the stake of the people rising against them. They all believed John to be a prophet and to speak against that would put hat person in a bad light in the midst of the whole community and could even be reason to be stoned.
8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Because they were not coming with right motives in their asking Jesus did not answer them. James 4:3 speaks to this truth. We can ask with wrong motives and we do not receive. God is gracious and our motives are not going to be 100% pure all the time, but when we are coming at it just to bring others down we can be assured that we will not find our answers. However, the Lord loves to answer us. When we search for Him diligently He will be found by us (Hebrews 11:6). And all who seek will wil find (Matthew 7:7-11). In the context of that verse it is seek and keep on seeking.
9 Then He began to tell the people this parable: “A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. 10 Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. 13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.’ 14 But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them?
This parable is speaking directly against the religious leaders, both of that day and times past. This is speaking about what happened to some of the prophets that God sent out on His behalf. Jesus has come on the scene now and they are not listening to Him, in fact they are planning His end. God sent Jesus in hopes to gain the people, including the religious leaders of the day, back to Himself. This is the way in which Jesus is going to die, outside the city at the hand of the religious leaders.
16 He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.”And when they heard it they said, “Certainly not!”
Interesting to note that the religious leaders knew this was spoken against them and were upset by it, but did not allow it to change their thinking and certainly not their actions. The truth is that all that deny Jesus will come to an end, and the vineyard is already in the hands of others, in us the gentiles who go and express God’s love for people.
17 Then He looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written:‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone’? 18 Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”
Jesus is the chief, He is head of all and the most important one around. The truth is when we truly come to Christ there is a brokenness that takes place, broken over our sins, broken away from our pride and self-focus. If we do not choose to fall on Jesus and break we are choosing to be crushed by His righteous judgement in the end.
19 And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people —for they knew He had spoken this parable against them.
They did not like what Jesus was saying here because it was speaking against their pride. They wanted to kill Jesus over the words that He spoke against them? Have you ever gotten that mad at someone over something? What was your heart like at the time? Where was your focus, all on you? Let’s be people that lay our hearts open before the Lord and allow Him to direct us. Our feelings and desires may differ from time to time from what God says. We need to lay those aside and follow God, our feelings and desires will eventually catch up to us.
20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor. 21 Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: 22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
They switch tactics here some. Instead of going after Him according to their laws and get Him into their court systems they switch the focus to the Roman empire that is governing them. The thought was if He says no the the Roman government would be after Him and they would take care of it. If He answers yes then He will lose favor with the jewish community and they may even turn to see His life as well.
23 But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me? 24 Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” They answered and said, “Caesar’s.”25 And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Jesus sees right through this one as well and His answer is quick and sly, in a good way. Rather than just a simply yes or no answer He invites them to look at things a bit closer. The money has the Roman emperors image on it. It is therefore reasonable to pay the taxes to them since it was their money system. Those things which the Lord has blessed our live with should be given back to Him and those things from the government back to the government. With that answer He both appeases the people and the Roman government.
26 But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent.
They may keep silent, but their plans have not yet come to an end, they are determined to catch Jesus somehow. They are really sitting back waiting for the ideal situation to arise in which they can get Him.