The Argument Written in Stone

22 Apr

The parable in Luke 20:9-18 shows that Jesus was well aware of the Jewish authorities’ intentions. Moreover, Luke 20:19 seems to show that the Jewish authorities were aware of the fact that Jesus knows what they plan to do to him. Jesus even notes in the parable that they will succeed (Luke 20:15).The Jewish authorities’ stand in this matter seems ludicrous. Why don’t they repent? It seems they will not repent, because they are obsessed with the idea that they have more right to positions of authority over the nation than Jesus has. They are consumed with their own desire to be proved correct.

In Luke 20:16 Jesus asks and answers his own question: “What will the lord of the vineyard do to them (the husbandmen)? Jesus says that the lord of the vineyard will destroy the husbandmen and give authority over the vineyard to others (Luke 20:15-16). Matthew 21:41, on the other hand, makes it clear that the crowd first responded to Jesus’ question, so Luke shows Jesus concurred with their answer, but he adds that ‘the lord of the vineyard will let the vineyard out to other husbandmen,’ but who are the “others” to whom Jesus refers? The others (Luke 20:16; cf. Matthew 21:41) seem to be the Church, which is made up of both Jews and gentiles.

The people, however, respond in disbelief (Luke 20:16), showing they understood the meaning of the parable. Their unbelief is strongly expressed, as is how we take the same Greek use by Paul (Romans 3:4, 6, 31). How could God give authority over his vineyard to others? The idea is completely foreign to the Jewish worldview.

Nevertheless, Jesus’ statement (Luke 20:16) is well supported in scripture, and he defends his conclusion by referring to Psalm 118:22 (Luke 20:17; see also Acts 4:11 and 1Peter 2:7). Luke quotes only verse-22, emphasizing the Stone, but Matthew and Mark quote Psalm 118:22-23, which puts the emphasis upon God. The people sang a hymn to their Messiah as they escorted him into Jerusalem (Luke 19:38), so Jesus, at this time in Luke 20:17, tests their integrity. ‘Do you really honor God, or do you honor men’ (the Jewish authorities – false teachers)? If we truly honor God, then we will submit to Jesus’ authority as our Messiah.

However, when the Jewish authorities heard these things and understood that Jesus had spoken of them (Luke 20:9, 14, 19), they sought to seize him. They were the “wicked men” of Matthew 21:41 and the “builders” of Luke 20:17, who rejected the Stone, but they didn’t dare seize Jesus, because they knew the people supported him, so they were afraid to take him (Luke 19:47-48; 22:2). Consequently, Jesus issues a warning, for in Luke 20:18 he refers to another scripture, showing those who “fall upon” him (the Stone) oppose him. These are those who question his authority and don’t believe his teaching. They simply reject his claim to be their Messiah. They are referred to in Isaiah 8:13-15 as those broken, because they fell upon the Stone (cf. Daniel 2:34, 44-45).

The Stone (Luke 20:17-18) represents Jesus, the Messiah (Christ). Daniel understands the stone as the Kingdom of God, and, when it falls upon the nations, it destroys them. On the other hand, Isaiah understands the stone as the King or the Lord of hosts (Isaiah 8:13-15). Isaiah points to the King and his effect upon the people, while Daniel points to the Kingdom of God and its effect upon the nations of this world, as Jesus’ disciples live in submission to him rather than in submission to the kingdoms of men.


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Posted by on April 22, 2018 in Gospel of Luke


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