Luke 20:1, 2 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?”
Luke 20:1-2 NIV
Luke 20:1-2 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good…
One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the…
Have you ever pretended you were more important than you are? The correct answer to this question is Yes, and it’s not about when you were a child or on your first day of work in your newly-promoted position.
You and I did not invent this problematic persona. Maybe Lamech started it all. (See Genesis 4:23, 24).
Some people across the ages, and on into today, have very nearly perfected the practice of Overimportance. There was a boy band called the Big Beard Boys in Jesus’ day who challenged Jesus at the point of his authority. They had been rocking with Moses for millennia.
There was another group called Just One Life who disagreed with the Big Beard Boys, but they also opposed the new crooner from the independent label. A third group, The Lawmen, also had it in for Jesus because he sang a new song. His style, if you could call it that, was too different to endure. It was too simple, too sweet, too singable for their tastes.
On this particular day in the life of Planet Earth as BC was giving way to AD, they sang an incipient version of Come Together and found several different ways to prove Jesus wasn’t gonna beat the Hot 613. (The Jews had 613 laws growing out of their understanding of God’s Ten Commandments.)
Verse 2 is where they attempted a basso profondo confrontation. The Big Beard Boys were all about authority. They had it. They had had it forever. They were not going to let it slip away-ay-ay. They tossed out their challenge in the form of a question sounding a bit like the contemporary interrogative, “Who do you think you are!” (“Are” was probably sounded out with a proper British “Ah.”)
Jesus matched them question for question. His question leaned them back upon their presumed authority. “JB (John Baptist). Was his authority from heaven or humans?”
Have you ever attempted to set a rat trap and had your fingers snapped? Yeah, it was like that.
So, the Authoritative Ones were All Out of Decisiveness. Jesus answered in a similar manner to how people today intone, “Thought so.”
Read on down the page. The Big Beard Boys and The Lawmen were ready to lynch the New Guy. One problem: They were afraid of the people. You know, the people they had authority over. The people they bossed around. The people they told what to believe and do.
Just One Life swallowed their tongues after they played their exquisitely planned and perfectly executed trump card. (See verses 27–38.)
The men with perfect hair.
Their suits are shiny
Their teeth are too
The better to take a bite out of you
Seriously, Jesus used the words Beware and Devour in verses 45 and 47.
- See Jesus for who he really is (verses 8, 13, 17, 18, 41–44).
- Practice what you preach (Matthew 23:2–7).
- Do not make religion a profession for personal gain (Matthew 23 and Luke 20:46, 47).
Here are lessons we still need today.
I will exalt the authority of Jesus and tamp down my own.
Our Father, please remind us as often as necessary that you are God and we are not. Empower us to see people the way Jesus did. Empower us to serve those people in your strength so that they can see how good you are. Deliver us from every temptation to think we are more important than we are. Bless us with the contentment of belonging to you, our one and only Father in heaven. Amen.