Authority, Wicked Tenants, And Taxes

Authority, Wicked Tenants, And Taxes

By What Authority?

In Chapter 20, Jesus becomes embroiled in a series of disputes with the leaders of Israel. During his final days in the temple, Jesus focuses on teaching and preaching the good news of God's favor. However, the chief priests, scribes, and elders vehemently oppose him and seek a way to eliminate him. After Jesus cleanses the temple (19:45–46) and teaches with authority, they demand to know by what authority he acts. Rather than answering their question, Jesus counters by asking them if John the Baptist's ministry was divine or human. The leaders deliberate but are primarily concerned with maintaining their power and avoiding the crowd's wrath. If they acknowledge John's authority, they risk being questioned about why they did not follow him, but if they deny it, they risk being stoned by the people. Thus, they claim ignorance of John's authority. Jesus exposes their ignorance and refuses to reveal the source of his authority.

It Will Crush

In the previous debate, it seemed Jesus avoided answering questions about his authority, but the parable of the wicked tenant farmers revealed that he boldly asserted his authority. The vineyard in the parable symbolizes Israel, while the tenant farmers represent the religious leaders. The vineyard owner, God, rents out the vineyard to the tenants for a certain period. During harvest time, the vineyard owner sends three servants to collect the fruit, but the tenants repeatedly beat and reject them. Although "three" is symbolic rather than literal, the servants represent all the prophets who spread God's message to Israel. Eventually, the vineyard owner sends his son, who represents Jesus, hoping the tenants will honor him. However, the wicked tenants conspire against and kill the son, hoping to inherit the vineyard. Jesus predicted his death at the hands of the religious leaders through this parable.
However, the tale doesn't end there, as the landlord (God) intends to eliminate the tenant farmers and entrust the vineyard to others, who will likely be non-Jews. This sudden change of fate takes aback the Jews, and hope it will not come to pass. Nonetheless, Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22, proclaiming himself as the stone rejected by the religious leaders and has now become the cornerstone of God's temple. Those who stumble upon the stone will be shattered, and those on whom it falls will be shattered into tiny pieces. The scribes and chief priests apprehend the implications of the parable and recognize that Jesus has accused them.

Render To Caesar

The religious leaders sought to kill Jesus after the parable of the tenant farmers, and they used the question of taxes to achieve their goal. They sent spies who pretended to be neutral, hoping to catch Jesus in a trap that would allow them to hand him over to Pilate. They spoke flatteringly of Jesus as a truthful teacher but tried to trap him by asking if people should pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus understood their scheme and asked to see a coin with Caesar's likeness on it. He then replied that people should give Caesar what belongs to him and God what belongs to God. The leaders were amazed by Jesus' response, and their trap failed.





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