The question of authority
And it came to pass, on one of the days he was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, there came to him the chief priests and the scribes with the elders. 2 And they spoke, saying to him: Tell us. By what authority do you do these things? Or, who is he that gave you this authority? 3 And he answered and said to them: I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, 4 the baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men? 5 And they discussed it among themselves, saying: If we shall say from heaven, he will say, why did you not believe him? 6 But if we shall say, from men, all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet. 7 And they answered that they did not know. 8 And Jesus said to them: Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
The parable of the vineyard
9 And he began to speak to the people this parable: A man planted a vineyard and rented it to husbandmen, and went into another country for a long time. 10 And when the time came, he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard; but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty handed. 11 And he sent yet another servant, and him also they beat, and handled him shamefully, and sent him away empty handed. 12 And he sent yet a third, and him also they wounded and threw him out. 13 And the lord of the vineyard said: What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. It may be they will respect him. 14 But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned one with another, saying: This is the heir! Let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy these husbandmen, and will give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said: God forbid.
17 But he looked upon them, and said: What then is this that is written: The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the headstone of the corner? 18 Everyone that falls on that stone shall be broken to pieces, but on whoever it shall fall, it will grind him to dust.
The Jews try to catch out Jesus
19 And the scribes and the chief priests sought to arrest him in that very hour, but they feared the people. For they perceived that he spoke this parable against them. 20 And they watched him and sent out spies, who pretended to be sincere, so that they might catch him in something he said; so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the Roman governor. 21 And they asked him, saying: Teacher, we know you say and teach rightly, and show no favouritism to any person, but in truth teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them: 24 Show me a denarius. Whose image and superscription has it? And they said: Caesar's. 25 And he said to them: Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. 26 And they were not able to catch him in what he said in the presence of the people, so they marvelled at his answer and held their peace.
27 And there came to him certain of the Sadducees, they that say that there is no resurrection. 28 And they asked him, saying: Teacher, Moses wrote to us, that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but he is childless, his brother should take the wife and raise up seed to his brother. 29 There were therefore seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless. 30 And the second, 31 and the third took her, and likewise the seventh also left no children, and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, whose wife of these shall she be? For the seven had her as wife. 34 And Jesus said to them: The children of this world marry and are given in marriage. 35 But they that are accounted worthy to attain to that world and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. 36 Neither can they die any more; for they are equal to the angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, when he called the Lord: The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. For all live to Him.
39 And certain of the scribes answering said: Teacher, you have said well. 40 And after that they dared not question him anymore.
41 And he said to them: Why do they say that the Christ is David's son? 42 For David himself said in the book of Psalms: The Lord said to my Lord: Sit on My right hand, 43 until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet. 44 David therefore calls him Lord, so, how is he his son?
45 And in the hearing of all the people, he said to his disciples: 46 Beware of the scribes, who desire to walk in long robes and love greetings in the marketplaces, and chief seats in the synagogues, and chief places at feasts, 47 who devour widows' houses and for a pretence make long prayers. These shall receive greater condemnation.
20:9 The absentee landlords of Galilee were despised by all; and yet the Lord uses one of them as a figure for Himself. Whenever we feel despised, we are sharing in the sufferings of Jesus.
20:13 God sent His Son to Israel, hoping they would reverence Him. But Isaiah 53 had prophesied that when Israel saw Him, they would see no beauty in Him and crucify Him. Yet God restrained that knowledge, in His love and positive hope for His people. God in a sense comes down to our level, rather like you crouch down to speak with a child at their level, and seek to enter into their limitations of perception, their language and outlook. Truly man is not alone. God is with us.
20:15 The parable has a telling twist to it. Absentee landlords who had never visited their land for ages, and found the people they sent to the property beaten up, would usually just forget it. They wouldn’t bother. In the parable which draws on this, the Lord asks what the landlord will do. The expected answer was: ‘Not much. He got what he could, he was never bothered to go there for years anyway’. But this landlord is odd. He keeps on sending messengers when any other landlord would have given up or got mad earlier on. But God’s patience through the prophets was likewise unusual. And then, when the tenants thought they must surely be able to get away with it because the Lord seemed so distant and out of touch… He suddenly comes Himself in person and destroys them. He doesn’t hire a bunch of people to do it. He comes in person, as the Lord will in judgment. And instead of deciding he’d had his fingers burnt and giving up vineyards as a bad job, this Lord gives the vineyard to others- He tries again. And so the Lord is doing with the Gentiles.
20:18 We have a choice- to be broken in this life by falling upon the rock of Christ, or to be broken by Him when He falls upon this earth in judgment. We must be broken men and women one way or another, either now or then. It’s so logical to choose to be broken now. But in spiritual matters, we’re not logical in how we reason. There is evidence within the text of the NT, in addition to church tradition, which would suggest that memorizing Scripture was a common feature of the early believers. A passage in Psalm 118 is referred to here in Lk. 20:18; and also in Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:6-8. One wonders if this was a proof text which the early believers would have known by heart.
20:36 Angels cannot die: “Death...does not lay hold of angels” (Heb. 2:16 Diaglott margin). If angels could sin, then those who are found worthy of reward at Christ’s return will also still be able to sin. And seeing that sin brings death (Rom. 6:23), they will therefore not have eternal life; if we have a possibility of sinning, we have the capability of dying. Thus to say angels can sin makes God’s promise of eternal life meaningless, seeing that our reward is to share the nature of the angels. The reference to “the angels” shows that there is no categorization of angels as good or sinful; there is only one category of angels. Dan. 12:3 says that the faithful will shine as the stars; and stars are associated with the Angels (Job 38:7). We will be made like Angels; and yet we will be given immortal, sinless nature. Therefore, Angels can’t sin. Our hope is to enter into the wonderful freedom of nature which the “Sons of God”, i.e. the Angels, now share (Rom. 8:19).
20:37,38 God is the God of Abraham here and now, even though Abraham is dead and unconscious. Because the dead are unconscious, because our memories of them fade and distort, we tend to think subconsciously that this is how God too sees the dead believers. But "all live to him", the souls under the altar cry out to Him for vengeance; in other words, His constant, detailed awareness of their characters provokes Him to act in world affairs even now (Rev. 6:9; 20:4). The Heavenly Jerusalem with which we are associated in Christ is composed of "the spirits (characters) of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12:23). As we strive to develop a spiritual character now, our spirit becomes associated with those pleasing characters ("spirits”) who reached a level of spiritual completion ("perfection").