On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?” (Luke 20:1-2 NASB)
And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” And He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. (Luke 20:8-9 NASB)
I discovered something in this passage. Jesus tells the elders He won’t tell them of His authority, then turns around and does exactly that. He says one thing and does another. In this account in Matthew (21:22-45), in between these two is a short “parabolic question” about a father with two sons. Each said one thing and did the other. The one who did what was asked was obedient. Then Jesus tells the parable which explains His authority. I wonder if the “father” could also be the elders?
Jesus is asked to tell why He can cleanse the temple and teach there. His authority comes from God as the Only Beloved Son, but how does He say that without inciting a riot right there? On the other hand Jesus wants to declare His authority to the religious leaders, in fact they have a right to know, it’s their responsibility to check such things. In a sense, the elders are afraid of the same thing Jesus is as they answer about John’s baptism.
It winds up that the elders and religious leaders know that the parable is about them. Do they also realize they’ve had Jesus’ authority explained as well? I think so. And just as John’s baptism was problematic for them so too is Jesus’ claim of authority. In the parable, the Beloved Son is sent to the vine growers by the Owner. The leaders caught that they are the vine growers, which makes Jesus the Beloved Son who has authority from God and actually owns the Temple and the people therein. He asserts His authority over theirs, claiming they are beholding to Him, not the other way around.
As Jesus points out in the parable, the vine growers want to destroy Him. And so they do. But He also points out they will destroy Him, outside the walls. The very indicting parable also predicts their “success”; while predicting that it will spell their destruction. The vineyard of Israel/Judah/Jerusalem will be given to “others”.
What I learn here is that my roles and responsibilities within my Master’s Kingdom are conditional. I am expected to be responsible and honoring to my King. I learn that I must gauge my response to Jesus. Am I behaving in line with my belief that I am beholding to Him, working what He owns on His behalf? Where can I honor Him more? What do I owe Him as my King that I have not given Him yet? It’s not comfortable for Americans to think this way. But I believe it’s necessary. The truth is that my King will accomplish His purposes and His design, with or without me. I’d like to be included.
What’s your view through the fence?