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Bible: What Does Luke 20 Teach Us About Jesus and Jewish Religious Leaders?

Updated on September 8, 2016

The Wicked Husbandmen


Parable of Jesus

Since the commentary in the other Synoptic gospels covers the Jews’ controversy with Jesus about the source of His authority (vv. 1-8; cf. Mt. 21:23-27 especially; see also Mark 11:27-33), it will not be dealt with here.

Likewise, Luke’s account of the “Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers” essentially mirrors those of Matthew and Mark, except that it omits certain details:

(1) a hedge being set around the vineyard (Mt. 21:33; Mk. 12:1); and

(2) the Jews’ response to Jesus’ question regarding the owner’s reaction to the vinedressers’ murder of his son (see Mt. 21:41).

Both Luke and Mark delete the latter Jewish response, but only the former evangelist includes the audience’s incredulity about Jesus’ conclusion that the owner will destroy the vinedressers and give the vineyard to others (v. 16).

Apart from these small changes, the Synoptics all report essentially the same story.

Jesus and Jewish Leaders


A third episode—one dealing with a “church-state” issue—each of the evangelists treats almost the same, though with minimal, yet interesting variations (vv. 20-26; cf. Mt. 22:15-22; Mk. 12:13-17).

Luke reports that the Pharisees engaged in a sort of espionage, seeking to gather incriminating evidence against Jesus regarding His politics (v. 20).

He also records the spies using the term “personal favoritism,” but this expression is the translator’s interpretation of the idiom “receive not a face” (v. 21).

Both Matthew and Mark also pen the curious idiom, “nor do You care about anyone, for You do not look at the face of man” (22:16; 12:14).

[Not to “care about anyone” means “to court no man’s favor.”]

The Reality of Resurrection


Identify Religious Group

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In Jesus’ discussion with certain Sadducees regarding the reality of resurrection, the evangelists’ accounts do not differ significantly when they record the Jews’ story of the woman who had seven husbands, all of whom die without an heir (vv. 27-33).

However, the Lord’s reply to their query about whose wife she will become in the resurrection does vary between Luke and the other two gospels.

Most significantly, Luke does not have Jesus rebuke the Jews for their ignorance of Scripture as the others do; instead, it inserts a detailed explanation of certain characteristics of millennium saints.

First, contrary to “sons of this age,” these individuals—whom Jesus says “are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead” (v. 35)—“neither marry nor are given in marriage” (vv. 34-35).

Second, the latter cannot die anymore (v. 36a); Jesus calls them in this respect “equal to the angels” (v. 36b).

They are “sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (v. 36c).

[What does the Lord mean when He refers to millennium saints as “those who are counted worthy to attain that age”?

These words suggest merit arising from faithfulness.

Their faithfulness results from their having saving faith that produces good works.]

Other slight differences exist between Luke and the other Synoptics.

First, though both mention Moses, Luke’s phraseology differs from Mark’s, and Matthew does not even speak about the great lawgiver, only the Greater Lawgiver (v. 37; cf. Mt. 22:31; Mk. 12:26).

Second, Luke concludes Jesus’ words with “for all live to Him” (v. 38), a phrase the others omit.

Third, Luke does not record the astonishment of the “multitude” (cf. Matthew 22:33), but does include a compliment arising from certain scribes and a respectful fear coming from a certain group of scholars (vv. 39-40).

Mark finishes with Jesus’ words and moves on (see 12:27).

The Messiah is Also David's Lord

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Just the Son of David?

Still teaching in the temple, the Lord searches the Jewish leaders’ minds, using probing questions about the mystery of the Messiah’s Person (vv. 41-44).

Luke’s first query logically follows Matthew’s first. After Jesus asks the Pharisees whose Son/son the Christ is, and He hears their view—namely, that He is the son of David (Matt. 22:42): a view they learned from the scribes (“they”) [Mk. 12:35]—, He asks, in effect, “Well, how then do you explain Psalm 110:1, a Scripture that clearly makes Him out to be David’s Lord (adonay)?” (vv. 42-44).

Luke records no reaction from His audience, though the other writers do (cf. Mt. 22:46; Mk. 12:37).

Jesus capitalizes upon this scribal interpretative confusion in His next address to “all the people” (v. 45).

He warns the multitude about the hypocrisy of these scholars, describing it as reveling in the people’s adulation and taking greedy advantage of the property of grieving widows.

The Lord explicitly condemns them for their greed and false religion (vv. 46-47).

© 2013 glynch1


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