Sunday, March 03, 2013

Luke 20:27-21:4 - Jesus' Questioners Questioned

English: Icon of Jesus Christ
Icon of Jesus Christ (Wikipedia)
Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 20:27-21:4 to teach believers that Jesus is our Resurrection, our Messiah, and our Provision.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about Jesus.
Pray and Read:  Luke 20:27-21:4

Contextual Notes:
Throughout his Gospel, Luke emphasizes the importance of walking in faith and avoiding unbelief. He has made it clear that every individual who meets Jesus Christ must make a decision about Him. Christ must be received or rejected. His claims must be believed or denied. When the Gospel shifts gears at Luke 9:51, Luke urges us to prioritize faith over unbelief (Luke 9:57-11:36) and warning us to trust the Lord rather than ourselves (Luke 11:37-12:59).
Christ then calls us to a Kingdom marked by grace (Luke 13:1-21), repentance (Luke 13:22-35), provision (Luke 14), and redemption of the lost (Luke 15). Luke warns us to prepare for His Return by responding to God’s Word in repentance (Luke 16), guarding against sin with obedience and thankfulness (Luke 17:1-19), waiting with faithful service (Luke 17:20-37), and persevering prayer (Luke 18:1-8). God always responds with mercy to a humble and simple reliance on Him (Luke 18:9-17).
True faith is complete reliance on Him. The necessity of complete reliance on God is emphasized in Jesus’ response to the little children (Luke 18:15-17), the response of the rich young ruler to Jesus (Luke 18:18-30), and most powerfully by Jesus Himself when He shares with His disciples His coming death and resurrection (Luke 18:31-34). Then in two examples of His free mercies, Jesus turns aside to free from blindness a beggar who sees with faith Christ’s identity as Messiah (Luke 18:35-43). Then He turns aside to help a wealthy tax collector find the riches of Christ’s presence and purpose (Luke 19:1-10).
After Luke gives Christ’s clear mission on the planet, “to seek and save the lost,” (Luke 19:10) he follows with a parable summing up our mission on the planet as we await Christ’s return (Luke 19:11-27). Luke calls us to trust this King who is worthy to be praised (Luke 19:28-40) because He is the only Hope for a doomed world (Luke 19:41-44).
Picturing the utter necessity of heart repentance toward God, Jesus cleanses the Temple of its merchants, arousing the murderous fury of the religious leaders (Luke 19:46-48) who challenge Jesus’ authority (Luke 20:1-8). Instead, Jesus exposes their unbelieving motives and plot to kill Him (Luke 20:9-19). Unable to act openly, the religious leaders try desperately to trap Jesus in His words so that they can report Him to the authorities (Luke 20:20-26).
Sermon Points:
1.   Trust Jesus our Resurrection (Luke 20:27-40)
2.   Trust Jesus our Messiah (Luke 20:41-47)
3.   Trust Jesus our Provision (Luke 21:1-4)

Exposition:   Note well,

a.   In a third attempt to discredit Jesus, the Sadducees give a silly example (Luke 20:27-33) about marriage with a serious error (Luke 20:34-40) about resurrection. Exactly what would they have accomplished if Jesus had sided with the first husband anyhow? They were trying to demonstrate the unreasonableness of faith in the resurrection of the dead.

b.   Sadducees – Their origin is uncertain, but the Sadducees appear to have arisen from priestly families among the rising aristocracy in Jerusalem during Hebrew independence under the Hasmoneans (c. 164-63 B.C.). By the first century, they controlled the priesthood and most political affairs and dominated the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:17). According to Josephus, they only considered the Torah fully authoritative, denying the oral traditions of the Pharisees. Therefore, they denied the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body, claiming these were added to the Torah later, much like liberal scholars today. They also emphasized human free will over divine predestination in contrast to the Pharisees. Luke also tells us in Acts 23:8 that the Sadducees did not believe in angels or spirits. Since power base of the Sadducees was the priesthood and the Temple, its destruction in A.D. 70 ended their political and religious influence, and they disappeared from Jewish history.

c.   Luke 20:28 – Levirate marriage: The Torah required the brother of a deceased man to bear children with the dead man’s wife in order to preserve the dead brother’s genealogical line (Deut. 25:5-10). It happened in Genesis 38:8 and Ruth 4:1-12. The Sadducees’ story line is not even original. They borrow it from the Jewish book of Tobit, where a jealous demon Asmodeus killed righteous Sarah’s first seven husbands.

d.   Luke 20:34 – No marriage in heaven: In the resurrection there is no marriage because there is no death, so there is no reason to raise up a new generation to rplace the old.. But this does not mean husbands and wives are separated. It simply means that the intimacy we experience here on earth is a symbol of a reality we will experience in glory. The joy a married couple finds in their union will not be taken way, but will instead be multiplied, as we experience a closeness with others that is beyond us here and now.

e.   Luke 20:36 – Like the angels: Jesus does not say that believers become angels. That does not happen. A human cannot change essence. They are distinct creations (Heb. 1-2). Jesus says their glorified state will be like the angels.

f.    Luke 20:37-38 – In the account of the bush: Jesus uses the Torah at Exodus 3 since the Sadducees only viewed it as authoritative for proof of the resurrection. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are still alive, Jesus says. The Sadducees demonstrate the hollowness of their teachings and theology.

g.   APPLICATION: Just like Jesus’ parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Christ’s response to the hypothetical case posed by the Sadducees emphasizes the fact that physical death does not terminate the self-conscious existence of the individual. God is the God the long dead Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For this to be true, the dead must still exist now. What a comfort as we think of our own loved ones who have passed away. Jesus is our Resurrection. We trust in life after death because of Jesus and His Resurrection.

h.   Luke 20:39-40 – “Well said, rabbi!”: Most of the teachers of the law were Pharisees who, contrary to the Sadducees, agreed with Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection. No one dared ask him any more questions: The ability to silence an opponent in debate was viewed in Greek culture as one of the marks of a wise man and skillful orator.

2.   TRUST JESUS OUR MESSIAH (Luke 20:41-47)

a.   The Jerusalem debates conclude with three episodes in which Jesus challenges and rebukes the religious leaders. First, the question about David’s son (Luke 20:41-44), then a rebuke of the teachers of the law (Luke 20:45-47), and the account of the widow’s offering (Luke 21:1-4).

b.   Luke 20:41-44 – Son of David: Jesus makes the point that His identity as Messiah exceeds traditional Jewish expectations of an earthly conquering king. Jesus is David’s son, affirming His humanity (Luke 20:41). Jesus is David’s Lord, affirming his deity (Luke 20:42-44). The title, Son of David, which the blind man already called Jesus (Luke 18:38-39), was a favorite title for the Messiah among the rabbis and a common one in Scripture (Isaiah 9:7; 11:1; Psalm 2, 89, 132). It’s roots are in the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:11-16) where God promises David that He will raise up one of his Seed who would reign forever on his throne. Jesus identifies the speaker in Psalm 110 as David, who addresses the Messiah as “my Lord” and speaks of his enthronement at God’s right hand. Psalm 110 is one of the most frequently cited OT texts in the NT. Their response? Silence. No one can answer Jesus.

c.   Luke 20:45-47 – Denunciation: Jesus warns his disciples against the hypocrisy of the teachers of the law. Though making an outward show of religiosity in public, they act with injustice and exploit the poor. As King, Jesus denounces the godless Jewish leaders in their pride (Luke 20:45-46), their cruelty (Luke 20:47a), and their hypocrisy (Luke 20:47b). Widows are viewed throughout Scripture as the most vulnerable and helpless members of society. Jesus condemns those who oppress them to their punishment (Luke 20:47c).

d.   APPLICATION: We have a duty as a congregation to care for widows. The Bible is clear that He defend the widow and the fatherless. Psalm 68:5: A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. Deuteronomy 14:29: And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do. Deuteronomy 27:19 : ‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ Isaiah 1:17 : Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. Jeremiah 22:3 : Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. Malachi 3:5 : And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien— Because they do not fear Me,” Says the Lord of hosts. 1 Timothy 5:16 : If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows. James 1:27 : Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.


a.   And immediately Luke shows us a widow in the Temple treasury. Jesus has moved into the court of the women and taken a seat where the chests for gifts and offerings were placed. A widow’s sacrificial gift underlines kind of attitude toward ownership in this world that God can commend and contrasts it starkly with that displayed by the religious elite of Jesus’ day. While they exploit others for gain, she gives self-sacrificially from her poverty. For Jesus, much amounts to little (Luke 21:1, 4) and little amounts to much (Luke 21:2-4).

b.   Luke 21:1 – The Temple treasury: The gazophylakion is either a treasury room in the temple or a chest or receptacle used to receive money. It could have been both (John 8:20). The Jewish Mishnah says there were 13 shofar-shaped chests in the temple used to collect offerings. People were throwing the money into them.

c.   Luke 21:2 – A poor widow: Being a widow made you poor. Anyone who was a poor widow was in really bad shape and the most helpless members of society. Two very small copper coins: The lepton, the smallest coin in circulation in Judea was 1/128th of a denarius (a day’s wage). A common laborer earned one lepton in four minutes of a ten-hour day. This was all the widow had to live on. She was very poor. Perhaps like Anna, she lived in the temple courts.

d.   Edersheim says, “We can see her coming alone, as if ashamed to mingle with the crowd of rich givers; ashamed to have her offering see; ashamed, perhaps, to bring it; a widow, in the garb of a desolate mourner, her condition, appearance, and bearing that of a pauper. He observed her closely and read her truly She held in her hand only the smallest coins and it should be known that it was not lawful to contribute a less amount. But it was all her living, perhaps all that she had been able to save out of her scanty housekeeping; more probably, all that she had to live upon for that day, and till she wrought for more. And of this she now made humble offering unto God.”[1]

e.   Luke 21:3 – This poor widow has put in more: It is said that generosity is relative to a person’s wealth. This is why the Lord set giving at a proportion. A person who gives only a little out of small resources is more generous than another.

f.    APPLICATION: The measure of a gift is not how much is given, but how much there was to give.


[1] Edersheim, 2:388.