This day was a day of contention. Jesus had cleared the temple, a graphic demonstration of His rejection of the religious leaders’ authority and leadership. He had refused to acknowledge their authority by answering their question, which was a power-play on their part. Today, Jesus continues to press the attack on their leadership.
The Parable of the Tenants- This story was actually a history lesson of how God’s prophets had been treated by Israel’s leaders. He then became prophetic in describing how they would treat the Son. It revealed what the leaders were trying to do and what they would eventually accomplish. Jesus also told what would happen to them, their leadership, and the nation of Israel:
“He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” v.9
The leaders of Israel would revolt against Rome and, in 70 AD, would cease to be a nation. Jesus spoke Daniel’s prophecy of this event (Daniel 9:26) in Luke 19:41-44 where Jesus wept as He entered into Jerusalem; Daniel’s prophecy also spoke of the Messiah’s death that same year, and indeed, it took place that very week. Jerusalem was rebuilt and renamed Aelia Capitolina, in 135 CE. Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina. The names never really stuck, but it shows the lengths that Rome went to obliterate Israel. The “vineyard,” so to speak, was given to the Followers of The Way, or Christians, led by Messianic Jews: Peter, James, John, Jesus’ half-brothers James and Jude, and Paul, among others.
Jesus then quotes a very specific messianic prophecy and applies it to Himself,
22 The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad. Psalm 118:22-24
Here, again, Jesus was condemning the religious leaders for rejecting Him.
Paying Taxes to Caesar- The Pharisees and Herodians (supporters of Rome and the current ruling system) tried to trick Jesus. It was a good plan–but, with a fatal flaw, and Jesus nailed it. The specific tax was universal and heavy, and all Jews hated it; it was expensive, and it reminded them that they were not a sovereign state. Everyone was interested in Jesus’ answer. He told them to bring a denarius, which is what everyone had to pay. They brought one–checkmate! The picture was of Tiberius Caesar, and the inscription was of Caesar Augustus, the divine. In other words, it was an idol! They were carrying around an idol in the temple courts!!! Then, Jesus amazed everyone with His wise answer, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” v.17 The implication was that the Pharisees and Herodians were in the pocket of Rome, which was true. A real double-whammy.
Marriage and Resurrection- The religious leaders weren’t about to give up. They had too much to lose. Also, in their own little minds, they thought they were right. One group, called the Sadducees, who believed that once you were dead, that was it: no resurrection (that’s why they were “sad, you see?”), asked Jesus a hypothetical question. Wrong move! Jesus reprimanded them, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” Wow! They were relying too heavily on “the traditions of men,” their own version of the law. Jesus set them straight using His Word. “You are badly mistaken.” They were warned.
The Greatest Commandment- One of the teachers of the law got it right. His question was open-ended and allowed Jesus to answer as He saw fit. He quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and Leviticus 19:8. Note that to do the first means that you will do the second. One flows into the other. The teacher commended Jesus (which probably brought a smile to Jesus’ face). He answered along the lines of 1 Samuel 15:22, which says,
“Does Adonai take as much pleasure
in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as in obeying what Adonai says?
Surely obeying is better than sacrifice,
and heeding orders than the fat of rams.
Jesus finally found ONE leader who got it. He actually understood the difference between obeying God and His Word and following the traditions of men. He may have had a problem with the current leadership and recognized Jesus as the Messiah. I’m hoping to meet him one day.
Whose Son Is the Christ?- Jesus continued to apply messianic passages to Himself. He was a son of David (twice, actually, through both Joseph and Mary), which qualified Him for the position.
He also warned the people to beware of the teachers of the law–who didn’t really teach the law, but rather their own traditions. Jesus gave an example of their hypocrisy and a good reason not to trust them. “Such men will be punished most severely.” v.40
The Widow’s Offering- Jesus was the Champion of the people. He came for the sick, the suffering, the downtrodden and the oppressed. Here, He commends a widow woman for giving much more in percentage than all of the rich. It was a great object lesson.
Jesus was done teaching in the temple area, but He wasn’t done teaching, yet. Tomorrow, we look at His prophecy about Jerusalem and the end times.