As we begin Holy Week we read Luke's account of the growing pressures within the story of Jesus. There are pressures upon as opponents ask Jesus question after question. There are pressures from his followers too, for Jesus is determinedly on his way to Jerusalem and his followers have their own hopes and fears as to what this will mean for him and for them. Will he deliver on his promises and on their expectations? And how about his own family, his mother and brothers? Their concerns and dreams adding to these pressures around him. Yet there is another pressure being applied. Jesus himself makes clear that the Kingdom of God challenges the pressures the religious leaders put upon people. He will not relent. He will not dilute his message. And we need to reckon with the difference between pressure and vocation. Jesus experiences these real interactions from other people and authorities, but he chooses to listen to One voice and One voice above all others - the voice his Father. We too can choose to listen the Father's voice above all others, whatever pressures we perceive we are under.
So we pray:
Father, this day, may we hear Your voice above all others. May we hear You say to us again, 'You are my beloved child, whom I love' and so know who we truly are ...... Your children. Thank You, Father. Amen
Read online here: Luke 20
This chapter focuses in on the opposition that had arisen against Jesus. There are three direct challenges to Jesus and a parable about the response of the Jews to Jesus. A small section also makes a statement about Jesus himself.
Who's who and what's what?
The Sadducees were the aristocracy of Judaism. Consisting mainly of the High-priestly families, they accepted only the first five books of the Bible and denied any belief in future life – hence the denial of the resurrection.
The first occasion recorded here of opposition to Jesus (Luke 20:1-8) is a challenge to the heart of who Jesus was. The Chief priests and the teachers of the law question Jesus concerning his authority. Jesus turns the challenge around and refuses to answer them. Jesus’ authority is seen back in Luke 4 and then every time he healed someone or restored them in some way. The challenges to Jesus continue (Luke 20:20-26) with a subtler attempt to catch him out. The question about praying taxes was really to see whether Jesus supported the Roman occupiers of Israel. If he did, then those opposed to Jesus could immediately denounce him. Once again he turns the challenge around and they are unable to fault him.
The Sadducees (Luke 20:27-40) show up to try and catch Jesus out. But their question involving the almost farcical story of a woman and seven husbands is dismissed by Jesus. He proclaims that God “is not the God of the dead but of the living.” In other words the issues that we deal with in our lives today will not be the same issues that we will have to consider in the resurrection life. Of course the teachers of the law – who accepted resurrection – were delighted with his answer and thus, Jesus splits some of the opposition at this point.
The parable of the tenants (Luke 20:9-19) is spoken directly against those who had had responsibility to communicate the Message about God to people and to help them with their response. Thus the teachers of the law and the chief priests look for a way to arrest him because they know that Jesus is now speaking against them.
Coupled with these parables are the final verses in the chapter (Luke 20:45-47) where Jesus tells the people to beware of the teachers of the law.
Jesus also makes a statement about himself (Luke 20:41-44) where he hints at who he really is. He quotes from the Psalms to point out that even the great King David acknowledged the Christ as Lord.
One question for today:
Some people seem to make a game of coming up with questions about Jesus. How about you, are you prepared to accept Jesus as Lord and acknowledge what he did as the works of God?
A verse to carry with us today:
“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Luke 20:38