When the Truth is Staring You in the Face & You Can’t Even See It!

Posted: April 28, 2015 in Gospel of Luke

Luke 20:1-8 — We accept on this side of history that Jesus would, should, and could teach at the temple. However, at the time these events happened, the religious authorities saw Jesus preaching and teaching in the temple. This is really significant! Do not gloss over it! They ask by whose authority granted to Him did He teach in the temple?

There was a movie awhile back, brilliantly acted by the co-stars Leonardo DeCaprio and Tom Hanks. It was called Catch Me If You Can. In this movie, DeCaprio plays the real-life character of Frank Abagnale, Jr. who took on the persona of a doctor, lawyer, airline pilot, while financing the lifestyle of these personas with bogus checks. In each of these situations, Abagnale was able to convince others, through the sheer will of his confidence, that he was what he said he was. There is an old saying that if you say something with enough confidence that people will believe what you say. Abagnale was so good at his lies that he actually believed them it seems. He did not have the authority to do anything that he said. He just claimed that he did. There was no real authority granted to him. His lies about the jobs always caught up with him not to mention the money he stole from others through his almost authentic forged checks. His lack of real authority to do what he did and make the claims that he made was his ultimate undoing.

The religious authorities at the temple saw Jesus teaching and preaching and they wanted to know how He assumed He had the authority to do so. They thought he was like Frank Abagnale, an impostor. They thought of him like professors would think of you and me if we walked on campus and started holding impromptu classes on the steps of one of the campus classroom buildings. They would want to know if we had been authorized to be teaching there. Jesus was a carpenter’s son from Galilee to them. He had received no formal religious training. He had no formal designation of authority granted to him by the priesthood. It is like today where many denominations will not allow you to be a pastor if you do not have a seminary degree. Jesus seemed to them in a very real way unqualified to do what He has doing. However, Jesus’ words were like honey to the listeners because they were coming from the mouth of God. His words were truth. God’s truth. They were words that could not be disputed because they came from the perfect God. The authorities were all about authority, labels, and power (not much different from us today). In their blind ambition to maintain order and power, they could not see the Messiah. To them, He was an immensely popular threat and another false prophet. They go on the attack. They have got to diffuse the power that Jesus seems to be accumulating among the people. He preaching and teaching seemed to pointing toward the fact that the religious system of Israel was corrupt and thus invalid. They had to discredit him.

The questions asked of Jesus were really a trap. This was, in some senses not unusual in the Jewish culture. It was a very common rabbinical style to argue or have debates by asking questions. You would ask your opponent a question and they would respond in kind, if they were able, with another more difficult question. In the end, the conversation was “won” by the one who could ask the last question. This is why Jesus so often responded to questions with a question of his own and why we never see anyone top Jesus with a question that he could not answer back to with a question of his own. But make no mistake, this was not an innocent question. If Jesus indicated somehow that God was the source of his authority, then he would be giving them all the ammunition that they needed to charge him with blasphemy. Blasphemy was punishable by death. They wanted to get Jesus out of the way. He was a threat to all that they held dear. Jesus’ answer is brilliant.

The Pharisees were so busy trying to figure out the best answer that they could not come up with the right answer. They were more concerned how their response would play publicly than they were about the truth. The were blind to the truth. Appearances were more important than the truth. They were blind guides so if they could not see the Messiah standing in front of them Jesus was not going to tell them from whom His authority came. They did not deserve the answer. They were more concerned about perceptions, power, and authority than they were about truth. They were so concerned with these things that they could not see the Messiah standing right in front of them.

What is the lesson for us that we need to apply to our lives? What is the Christ follower to take away from this scene? I think it is a continuation of what we talked about yesterday. We must always keep our eyes focused on the message rather than the trappings of the message. We must keep our eyes on Jesus rather that our positions within the church. Dissension in churches is often caused by people feeling that the position that they hold within the church is being threatened by someone new. We often feel threatened by the talents of others within the church. We often gossip about those who rise to the top because of their passion and desire to serve the Lord. One church in a community may be jealous of another church in the community because it is growing faster even though it is younger. We get so caught up in things that are about us in the church that we sometimes forget why we are there. Let us remember that we are all about. We are here to make the name of Jesus famous. Nothing else matters. We are here lead others to Christ. We are here to make disciples. We are here to celebrate the person and work of Jesus Christ. We are here to see, hear, touch, feel, taste the truth of the Messiah. Let us not become so concerned with labels, positions, and power and other horizontal views in the church that we forget that our view should be vertical. Seeing the Messiah. Pointing people to Him. Measuring every action by whether we are doing that by our actions or not.

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