Luke 20: 1 – 19
One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism-was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from. Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”
Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.
Bearding the lion in its own cave. Jesus has entered the temple and teaches and heals with the authority of one sent from God. The leaders of the temple (in today’s terms bishops, theologians, etc.) came and asked Jesus by what authority does he do these things in the temple, the holy of holies. They cannot deal with his questions because as the human keepers of man-made institutions, rules, theology, etc., they could not deal with the question of whether John’s baptism was from God or something he made up. They are completely outclassed by the power and authority with which he heals and speaks and the people love him, as they did John the Baptist before him. So in vain they are looking for a way to destroy him.
We are grateful Jesus that you told your disciples not to worry about what they had to say when brought before authorities and attacked for their faith. You told them that the Spirit would give them the words to say on that day. We are grateful Jesus for being chosen to walk your path with you and we trust that like you, as we walk in the Spirit we will always have ready on our tongue whatever response is divinely provided. Amen.
Noon Day Prayers Question
The comfortable pew: are you comfortable? Jesus was a disturber of the peace. He infuriated the religious leaders of this day, the ministers, priests, theologians and bishops of his day. How can you be comfortable and a follower of Jesus? Is it possible? Remember that a good question is better than a good answer. It yields fruit again and again over the years. Chew on this one, mindful of God’s presence. Be open to the Spirit’s answer.
Luke 20: 20 – 26
Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.
Ever since Jesus legitimized civil rule by saying give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, we have been praying for good government and peaceful times. It is in times such as these that prophets and teachers like Jesus can attract followers and spiritual knowledge and peace can grow and multiply. Jesus was not here to fulfill Israel’s ambitions to become a nation and empire once again, but rather to call all Abba’s lost children back to him, one at a time.
We pray as well for good government, for just, prudent and charitable decision-making, not only for us but for everyone in this world. There are times when government will persecute
those walking in the light, when decisions will not be just, prudent or charitable but rather ill-advised, corrupt and divisive if not hateful and genocidal. But in all these times, however we are led to act, we pray for good government.
We also trust that God can work all these things to good for those who walk in the light and that the One whose ways and thoughts are way above ours has his own designs at work in worldly affairs that we may never come to understand. And so just as Jesus himself was about to be tortured and executed by the government of his day, and all foretold by Isaiah, so too we trust our Abba with our lives and well-being, whatever we find happening in our day to day lives. Give us grace to trust you in all things beloved Abba and to walk in your Spirit whatever may be erupting in our lives. Amen.