by Bill Spaans:
In chapter 20 Dr. Luke tells the story of a battle of wills. On the one side is Jesus, who wants to fulfill His Father’s will. Jesus is on the way to the cross. On the other side are the Jewish teachers of the law, and the Pharisees. Their will is to protect their position of power and prestige within the Jewish nation. But here is this lowly carpenter’s son attracting large and adoring crowds, who listen to His every word! “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?” they demanded to know. They feel threatened by Jesus. Jesus refuses to answer them, but instead tells a parable.
The parable which Jesus told foreshadowed His upcoming crucifixion. In this parable Jesus says there was an owner of a vineyard who at harvesttime sent His servants to collect his share of the harvest. He did this three times, but each time the tenants beat up the servant and sent him back empty handed. Finally, the owner of the vineyard said (vs.13) “What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.” But when the tenants saw him, they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. In verse 19 we read that “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.”
So the Jewish leaders devised a plan. They started asking Jesus a bunch of questions designed to trick Jesus into saying something that would put Him in a bad light. First, they ask (vs.20) “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” They know that if Jesus said “yes” the people will be upset because they despised the Romans and hated paying taxes to them. On the other hand, if He said “no” Jesus could be in trouble with the authorities. Jesus refuses to be drawn into this trap however, so they ask Him a difficult theological question, hoping perhaps to make this lowly carpenter son look foolish. Jesus provided such authoritative answers that one of the teachers of the law responded (vs.39) “Well said, teacher!” After that no one dared to ask him any more questions.
This all begs the question – during this Lenten season, whose will are we pursuing? Are we like the Jewish leaders following our own agendas? Or are we willing to follow Jesus to the cross? In Matthew 16: 24 & 25 Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” This Lenten season let’s recommit ourselves to following Jesus. And to Him be the glory. Great things He has done!