By What Authority?
Almighty God, I gladly acknowledge Your divine power and authority over me and over all things.
Read LUKE 20:9-19
 He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time.  At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed.  He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed.  He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.  “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’  “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’  So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “May this never be!”  Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’?  Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”  The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhy did the religious authorities react so negatively?
This is a deliberate confrontation. The priests believe only they have authority to teach the law. Jesus’ response silences them because they dare not say John’s authority came from men. If they say it was from God, then they deserve to be stoned for not supporting a prophet, and their response would affirm that Jesus’ authority comes from heaven. The crowd knows this, and the miracles themselves attest it.
Then, Jesus tells a story. It’s an accusation that the ordinary people couldn’t fail to grasp, far less the priests. They couldn’t pretend not to know that the vineyard was the land of Israel, planted and tended by God himself as described in Isaiah’s Song of the Vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7). They couldn’t argue against God’s rightful ownership of the land and people. In the face of Jesus’ clear authority, they can’t defend themselves and show that they have given God what is due to him. The crowd reacts with horror, “Let this never happen!” (16). Ironically, the priests respond as Jesus predicts in the story: they start to look for a way to have him arrested (19). It is this reaction, killing the son and heir, that is their undoing. He is the rejected capstone (17).
Is there anything you are keeping back from God? If so, prayerfully and intentionally give it back to him now.
Lord Jesus, I bow before Your authority over my life and all things. I’m grateful to live under Your caring rule.
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