Sunday, January 23, 2011

[Matt's Messages] "The Authority of Jesus"

“The Authority of Jesus”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
January 23, 2011
Luke 20:1-19

It’s time for a smackdown.  We’ve reached the point in the Gospel of Luke when Jesus has confrontation after confrontation with the Jewish Religious Leaders.

It’s been building up for months and months, but now it has reached the tipping point–and the real confrontation has begun.

If you think that the Packers and the Bears or the Jets and the Steelers is a major confrontation, then you haven’t seen anything yet!

Jesus has instigated this confrontation.  On Sunday, He came riding into town on the back of a donkey–clearly indicating that He was the Messiah promised by the Old Testament–King Jesus!

And then He cleaned house at the temple.  Last week, we saw him tossing tables and physically manhandling moneychangers and merchandisers out of the temple courts.

Returning the temple to what it was supposed to be: a house of prayer.

And a house of teaching.   V.47 said that every day of this fateful week, Jesus returned to the cleansed temple and taught.

And one day that week when He was teaching in the temple, the leaders made their move.  Chapter 20, verse 1.

“One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him.   ‘Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,’ they said. ‘Who gave you this authority?’”

The leaders are not happy with Jesus.

They don’t like Him one bit, and they want to stop Him.

So they try this. They bring an question that is actually an accusation. V.2

“Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,’ they said. ‘Who gave you this authority?”

In other words, “Who do you think you are?!  Who gave you the right?  Who died and put you in charge?”

‘Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,’ they said. ‘Who gave you this authority?’”

Now, in their world, authority was huge.  Nobody taught anything on their own authority.

Rabbis would always quote other rabbis.  There was always a precedent that was being appealed to for any of their teaching.

But we’ve seen that Jesus taught differently; He taught with authority and not like the scribes and the teachers of the law.

And what about His actions?  Where did He get the authority to toss people out of the temple?

That’s their question.

And think that it should shake Him.

But even though it’s a confrontation, this is no contest for Jesus.  See how He responds.  V.3

“He replied, ‘I will also ask you a question. Tell me, John's baptism–was it from heaven, or from men?’”

“You’re going to ask a question?  I’ll ask a question.”

“Tell me, John's baptism–was it from heaven, or from men?”

He’s got them.  And they know it.  They huddle up and try to scramble for a game plan.  V.5

“They discussed it among themselves and said, ‘If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Why didn't you believe him?'  But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.’”

“Man, He’s got us!  If we say that John’s baptism was holy and from God then, Jesus will say “Why didn’t you believe him?  And what did John say?  John said that Jesus was the lamb of God!  Someone greater than him!”

“But if we say that John’s baptism was from men, which is what we really think, then we’ll get in trouble from the people who loved John and thought he was from God.  They’ll stone us. What do we do?”  V.7

“So they answered, ‘We don't know where it was from.’ Jesus said, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’”

These guys are weasels.

They are cowards.  They are losers.

If they really believed that John the Baptist was a fake and that Jesus was a threat to the people, they should have said so and taken the consequences.

But they were the worst kind of politicians.

“We don’t know where it was from.”

“Well, then I don’t need to tell you where I get my authority.”

Because it’s the same place where John got his.

The Authority of Jesus...


Jesus’ authority is not derived from men.  It is direct from God.

He had every authority to say what He said and do what He did.

From God Himself.

Do you believe that?

What is your authority?

The very idea of authority is scorned these days in our society.

“Question authority.”
“Be own your authority.”

Those are the things that we hear nowadays.

But we all have something that we follow.
Something that we listen to.
Some authority over us.

What is yours?

Is Jesus your authority?

Well, most of us here would say that “Yes, He is. Jesus is my authority.”

But sometimes we don’t act like it.

We say, “Yeah, but...”

I know that what Jesus says goes.  Yeah, but...

I know that Jesus says to honor my father and mother.  Yeah, but... you don’t know what kind of a mom and dad that I have deal with!
I know that Jesus says to give generously. Yeah, but...I don’t have very much to start with.  Maybe after I get ahead a little bit.  Yeah, but...

I know that Jesus says to share the gospel with others.  Yeah, but...I’m scared.  I’m afraid of what others will say about me or say to me or think of me.  Yeah, but...

Just a few weeks from this very point, Jesus will say, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (by God Himself!), therefore go and make disciples of all peoples baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Do we say, “Yeah, but...” to that?

And about that baptism piece...Jesus says that believers should be baptized.

But we say, “Yeah, but...I’m not mature yet in Christ.” or “Yeah, but...I don’t know what my parents would say.”  “Yeah, but...I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet.”

Yeah, I know what Jesus says, but...

The question is not “Who does Jesus think He is?”

The question is, “Who do we think we are to say, ‘Yeah, but’” to Him?

Jesus is Lord, and we need to act like.

Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.  Thank you, Jenny, for being with us this morning from A Woman’s Concern.

We know that the Lord Jesus says that life is precious and to not murder.

But so many Americans have said, “Yeah, but...a baby is inconvenient.  I can’t afford it.  What will my boyfriend think?”

And so many politicians have said, “Yeah, political base wants me to vote pro-abortion.  Yeah, but...we have to preserve a woman’s right to choose.”

What we have to do is to submit to Jesus’ authority.  It comes from God Himself.
Make this personal. 
In what area of your life right now have you been skirting the issue?

What has He been talking to you about?

Where have you been saying, “Yeah, but...”?  Tell the Lord about it and resolve today to submit to His authority.  It comes from God Himself.

Even if the chief priests, teachers of the law, and elders wouldn’t recognize it.

Jesus knew that they were rejecting Him.  And that’s why He tells the next story.

The Authority of Jesus...


“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.”

Now, this is different from the last parable He told about someone leaving others in charge in the last chapter.

This time, the man is God the Father.  The vineyard is Israel (or the promises of God which includes the kingdom and Israel), and the tenant farmers are the Jews, especially the leadership.  This parable, so far, is not about the return of Christ, but about those who are supposed to be stewards of the promises of God–the leadership of Israel.

Do you have the picture in your head?  Man, vineyard, tenant farmers.  V.10

“At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. [It’s a business.  It’s supposed to be productive.] 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.” Now, who do you think these servants stand for in this parable?

They are the prophets. They are Isaiah and Jeremiah. They are Amos and Micah.

And the prophets were disregarded by the Jews.

And treated shamefully.  Jeremiah was put down a well.  He was put in prison–by the Israelite king!

So, the owner of the vineyard has one more option before going himself. V.13

“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 a shocking story!

The owner sends his very own son, “whom I love.”

What does that remind you of?

The baptism of Jesus, right?  “This is my son, whom I love?”

And the transfiguration of Jesus, too, right?  “This is my son, whom I love.”

God loves this son!

And He sends Him, and what happens?

The tenants say, “This is the heir.  Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.”

Duh!  Is that how it works?

Maybe there is some arcane law somewhere if they get away with the murder then they can claim squatters rights.

But is this the way it normally works?

Kill the heir, you get the inheritance.  I don’t think so!

Maybe we should submit to His authority?

No, let’s kill Him!

That’s how ridiculous and illogical sin is.

But that’s exactly what we do isn’t it?

And that’s what the Jews are going to do.

The Son of God has come, and they are going to kill Him.

And Jesus knows it.  V.15

“So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.”

The authority of Jesus rejected by men.

As a church, we’re going to come back to the death of Jesus again and again and again, because it is the central fact of Christianity.

And it’s where our salvation comes from.

Charles Spurgeon said, “If you reject him, he answers you with tears; if you wound him, he bleeds out cleansing; if you kill him, he dies to redeem; if you bury him, he rises again to bring resurrection. Jesus is love made manifest.”  (Quoted in Kent Hughes’ book on Luke, vol 2.)

Rejected by Men.

We’re going to see the Cross loom high over the next few months because that’s what the end of Luke is all about.

Someone once said that the gospels aren’t biographies. They are passion narratives (death stories) with very long introductions.

And that’s not all there is to them, but there is a big point here.

The gospels spend a lot of time on Jesus’ passion week.

His rejection means our salvation.

But it also means judgment.  V.15

“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 (Psalm 118): ‘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 Authority of Jesus...


The people who heard this were aghast what Jesus was saying.

“May this never be!  May we never reject the authority of the owner through son and may he never toss us out on our ears!”

But that’s exactly what will happen.

The vineyard will be given to others.  Jerusalem will be sacked in under 40 years.  And stewardship of all of the promises will be given, not to ethnic Israel but to the church. And even that will have a primarily Gentile leadership in just a few generations.

“He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

And here is why.  Psalm 118:22.  “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.’”

They thought that they were standing in judgment of Jesus.

But Jesus stands in judgment over them.

And His authority is invincible.

Unstoppable.  Unbeatable.  Never vanquished.

It may not look like it now, but every attempt to overthrow King Jesus will be a failure.

He is the stone that the builders (leaders) rejected.

But the owner has made the capstone.

Everyone who falls on Jesus will be broken to pieces.
And if you fall under Jesus, you’ll be crushed.

Flee from the wrath to come!

The leaders hated this.  V.19

“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 [they understood, but they were cowards]. But they were afraid of the people.”

They’ll try again soon.

But for now, Jesus has won another round.

And He’ll win every round.

He is invincible in authority.

Those who want to reject Him should reconsider right now.

Because He will crush them.

Those who choose death over life.
Those who follow others gods.
Those who call Jesus just good teacher.
Those who reject Jesus and spurn His offer of grace...

They will be broken to piece and crushed.

Because the stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.

If you are here today and not yet a faith follower of Jesus Christ, I urge you to repent (that means to turn) and to submit your life to Him.

Judgment fell on these Jews who rejected Jesus.

And it will fall on you. 

It might not feel like it right now.

But it is coming.

“Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

You don’t have to be crushed under the invincible weight of this stone.

You can receive Him!

The Bible says that to all who receive Jesus, to those who believe in His name, He gives the AUTHORITY to become children of God.

Jesus’ authority saving you and me and giving us forgiveness and eternal life.

Repent and submit to His authority today.

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come
Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom
Jesus and Jerusalem
Jesus at the Party
The Cost of Following Jesus
Jesus and the Lost: Part One
Jesus and the Lost: Part Two
Jesus and the Lost: Part Three
Jesus on Money
Sneering at Jesus
Jesus and the Great Chasm
Jesus Said to His Disciples...
Thanking Jesus
Jesus and the Coming Kingdom
Jesus Says, "Keep Praying"
The Proud, the Humble, and Jesus
Jesus Does the Impossible
Why Did Jesus Come?
Investing for Jesus in 2011
King Jesus
Jesus and the Temple