THE AUTHORITY OF Jesus
By Moses Marji
Key Verse: 17b, 18
“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”
I thank God for his blessings to be with you today and to have a chance to study together the word of God. This is a special time since we international summer bible conference coming soon where we will be devoting few days to God and be encouraged by the work of God around the world. Today I chose a passage from the book of Luke chapter 20 which focuses on the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord and savior. Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, thank you for enabling me to be here and stand here today despite my short comings and my lacking, I pray that you use me as an instrument in your hands, please lead me today to speak the truth to my heart first and to the hearts of the members in our congregation today. I pray this in Jesus’ name.
This passage has two parts to it, we will be studying about the teachers of the law challenge to Jesus and his response, directly Jesus starting telling the people the parable of the tenants as more explanation God’s authority.
Let’s ready vs 1 and 2 “ 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” To understand why they would ask this question of Jesus we need to know their background. At that time, the chief priests and the teachers of the law were the highest organized religious authority in the land. They went through certain program to become teachers of the law and priests. So they absolutely had religious authority, which they obtained through their traditions. But what is much more important, is the spiritual authority. The spiritual authority is based on an individual’s personal relationship with God. If a person has personal relationship with God and is led by God to do God’s work, he or she have spiritual authority from God. So we conclude here that these teachers of the law surely had religious authority but they did not understand the spiritual authority because of lack in their personal relationship with God. And you will see a bit later how they were lacking that spiritual connection.
When the Chief priests and the teachers of the law came to Jesus asking him “Tell us by what authority are you doing these things and who gave you this authority, they surely were depending on their own understanding of authority as they know it through the system. They did not even scratch the surface when it came to spiritual matters. Let’s see how Jesus responded to them “He replied, I will also ask you a question. Tell me, John’s baptism- was it from heaven, or from men? Jesus knew their condition very well, and it was a clear question Was it from men—through traditional systems and theological education, which am not oppose it is supporting information, Or from heaven—from God based on a calling to John to do his work and serve him with a mission given to him. With this question Jesus was forcing these teachers to think of God’s work and pause for a second to really realize what they were asking. Then what would we expect their reply would be? As I mentioned earlier these people were well established in the religious organization of the time in Israel but they were not established with God in a personal relationship. So when a person is established in organizational structure they want to protect that establishment and that organization and this very thing has nothing to do with God.
Let’s analyze their response and see why they responded that way. Let’s look at verses 5 to 7 “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” Now with a religious mind set and no relationship with God they are thinking about themselves and how they will look to the people, they twist and turn the truth in a way that soothe them and make them look God, and that very thing shows clearly that they did not have a relationship with God and lacked spiritual authority and in consequence spiritual influence. A man or a woman, who have relationship with God, stands by the truth. You can see from their response that they do not want to stand by the truth. When you ask anyone a simple question and their answer to you “I don’t know” this means they avoid speaking the truth. Every fact has only one truth but many lies. So if the truth is one, the answer to one question would be the same from several people who answer truthfully, but for that question there are many lies can be an answer and from many people, so the story changes from one person to another. The teachers of the law don’t want to admit the truth that John is a man of God, because John simply did not go through their religious system and was did not go through their hierarchy. They already set their own standard who has authority to serve God and who does not. Look at their character, first why do they have to discuss among them to answer Jesus? If they speak the truth their answers will be the same and they don’t have to discuss, but they were discussing so that they agree on a certain lie they can come up with it to answer Jesus. And then when they came up with an answer their answer was: We don’t know” because they were afraid from the people that they would stone them? This means they are not willing to stand by their statement if they believed it is the truth even on the cost of their lives. Are these characters of people who know God or have any relationship with God? Of course it is not. And if they don’t have relationship with God then they don’t even have spiritual authority from God. They simply don’t stand by the truth. On the other hand Jesus Christ is the truth and John the Baptist stand by that truth so they have spiritual authority from God.
So I want to emphasize here that we need as followers of Jesus Christ to stand by the truth so that we are able to keep our spiritual authority to serve God. When asked a question we answer it without hesitant. Truth is not an opinion, it is based on a fact and there is different between the two. For example I say my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world, is not a lie because to me my opinion stating so, there might another husband see in his own eyes the his wife is the most people woman in the world, good for him. And If I say I don’t like Tamales someone else might love Tamales, there is their preference. These are opinions not truths. But truth is based on facts. For example in Kenya by the end of the service the during announcements we introduce people who did not attend the service the previous week, some come and say “due to unavoidable circumstances I was not able to join last week” now this is based on a fact and to run away from the truth we mention, I don’t know, or unavoidable circumstances, we don’t have a straight answer. So this is a clue, once you ask someone a question and he or she answer like this or think of what to say, then they avoid the truth. Avoiding the truth make us lose our spiritual power and influence and we become like water, we lose our saltiness.
Then what would Jesus reply to people who don’t understand spiritual authority, to people who are lying to him and did not give him a straight answer. Jesus said “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” It was so obvious to Jesus that these people did not want to acknowledge the truth in front of their eyes for reasons far away from God, to keep their personal positions and gains. They would rather defy God than losing what they have in the religious system and traditions that were established by men without any spirit in them.
When I first joined to study the bible, I had a desire to know the bible, but I was not ready to commit my life fully to follow Jesus. I thought that I would sacrifice my ambitions, my plans for my life and for my future. I thought if I joined the ministry fully I will sacrifice everything that I have known. So because of fear I did not stand by the truth, or I had one foot in and one foot out. Little I knew at that time that standing by the truth is freedom itself and it is a new life handed by Jesus to live freely serving God. It took me a while until I fully surrendered my life to Jesus. But once I did I was ready to sacrifice for to proclaim his glory. God knew me more than myself and God did not give me more than I could handle. And God blessed me with much more than I sacrificed as he promised. I believe that standing by the truth is life itself because this is the true meaning of living a valuable life on this earth serving God. When I met Jesus and surrendered my life to him, I thought this is it, I would be like this all my life, again I was wrong and little I knew that I would go through many trying times the would have broken me completely and threw on the side of God’s history, but God is very gracious to me and allowed me to fall and to get up again and battle from within to keep marching toward the finish line. This is a life that God chose to hand to me and I accept it fully with thankfulness. God tried me and removed many stubborn sins that lingered in me. And God is still working on me. But If I want to be beside the truth God will filter the sin in me until he is satisfied and I accepted that.
When Jesus finished replying to the teachers of the law who stubbornly did not want to admit to the truth, he left them to think about the question they asked regarding authority, then he paid his attention to the people around him, and to explain to them God authority over their lives, he used a parable. A man planted a vineyard and rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. This is God who brought us the people to the earth and asked us to subdue it and rule over it as our mission. When it was time for us to be thankful to God and offer to him with our thankfulness, we turned our hearts from him thinking all what has been done is our own work, we took care of the vineyard and we deserve to enjoy the fruits, no thanks to the owner of the vineyard since we are the ones working it. The owner sent his servants to collect some of the fruits, the farmers beat his servants one after the other. And here God sent so many prophets to bring people back to God, but the dismiss them, they ridiculed them, and they killed some of them. During the time when the Israelites moved to the promised land and prospered they turned their hearts away from God, God sent them his prophets but they did not turn back to God. Instead they became bolder in their action. The farmers in this Parable became bolder in their action. They knew the truth. They knew that they were just renting the farm and it belonged to the owner. The owner appreciated their work and he only asked them to give some of the fruits not all of it. But because of their greed and desires they did not listen and did not stand by the truth. Instead they wanted to change the facts. They wanted to claim the vineyard to themselves. They thought they were strong enough that they can even stand up against the owner. The owner wondered how blind they were to ignore the truth. The owner of the vineyard sent his only son, verse 13-15 reads “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, tey 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” These tenants became bolder and bolder, it is like sin that becomes wider and wider until at the end leads to death. They forgot the fact of the matter, the truth that all belongs to the owner. And the people here forget that everything belong to God. Even when God sent his one and only Son Jesus Christ, the religious establishment rejected him and questioned his authority. Why would they question Jesus’ authority, because they wanted to claim that they are the heirs of God on earth and the only ones who speak on behalf of God, but to do so they needed to get rid of Jesus, they tried to discredit Jesus, But the truth is much powerful than their mundane words and their pitiful plots. So they did not have any other choice but to try to kill Jesus so that they can have the spiritual inheritance. Little they knew that God’s work does happen humanly and they will be severely punished and condemn to eternal punishment by God. The people were completely astonished saying “May this never be” Then at that point Jesus confronted the people “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” Jesus is the truth and the truth is so solid, the truth is a capstone to build on it. No one can build on lies because that building will crumble instantly with changing lies. But everyone can build on non-changing truth of God. He is the solid capstone. Now those who are confronted with the truth and they are full of lies will be broken to pieces. Lies will not be able to stand, and when the truth comes upon them, it will crush them and wipe out all the lies they were building in vain.
Jesus is the truth; Jesus is the true capstone that can hold the building. Jesus is our solid rock. May God lead each one of us to stand by the truth and live by the truth so that our lives are blessed and led to do the mission each one of us was given to do. God may bless you all and guide you to do his good work in your life time until you say I did my part in this world and I am ready to be with you Lord. Amen.
Let’s read our key verse one more time “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”