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Luke 20:1-40

The Response of a Right Heart

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • December 2, 2012

In these verses the Jewish leaders challenge Jesus in the hope that they might stop Him, but instead, Jesus’s answers give us insight into the response of the heart God desires. That’s really the central question of the gospel; what will you do with Jesus? How will you respond to the One whom God has sent to be the hope of the world?

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

The Response of a Right Heart

Luke 20:1-40 

In Luke chapter 20, we pick up the story of Jesus the day after the famous triumphant entry into Jerusalem. We celebrate this triumphant entry every year on Palm Sunday, so we’ll wait until then to look at that section in more detail. But it’s important to remember that this entering into Jerusalem is the culmination of God’s purpose for all of human history.

This is that triumphant entry that Daniel had prophesied almost 500 years earlier, even giving the exact number of years from the decree of Artexerxes to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to the time when the Messiah would arrive in Jerusalem.

Jesus came just as Daniel had written. Jesus also came with all the signs that would accompany the Messiah; the blind receive their sight, the deaf could hear, the lame would leap for joy, demons were cast out and He even raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been in the grave four days.

All the signs were right before their eyes, yet the leaders of Israel refused to acknowledge Jesus as having been sent by God. Yet here was Jesus right in the center of Jerusalem, He was impossible to ignore. The first thing He did upon entering Jerusalem was to take a whip and clear the temple of those who were exchanging money and taking advantage of those who had come to worship God saying, “My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a robber’s den.”

In these verses the Jewish leaders challenge Jesus in the hope that they might stop Him, but instead, Jesus’s answers give us insight into the response of the heart God desires. That’s really the central question of the gospel; what will you do with Jesus? How will you respond to the One whom God has sent to be the hope of the world?

I. Let Earth Receive Her King

  • Let’s step back and see this from a larger perspective; God had called Israel His chosen people and placed His name there. He caused His glory to be among them so that all people would know that God desires to be “Emmanuel,” God with us.
  • God had chosen Jerusalem, the “possession of peace” that His name might be there forever. And so here was Jesus, the Son of God, healer of the blind, the lame, the deaf, champion over demons, the One who raised Lazarus from the dead. They should have been celebrating and rejoicing, but instead it was a day of confrontation.
  • They had all the appearance of religion, but there was no fruit, they would not recognize that God was over them, they were kicking against God’s authority. And the result was that they had no life within them.

A. Say “yes” to God and truly live

  • There in Jerusalem was the famous Temple of God that Herod the Great had built. They considered it one of the great wonders of the world.
  • There were more than 20,000 priests and Levites, there were tens of thousands of rabbis, there were daily sacrifices and the smoke rising from them could be seen throughout Jerusalem.
  • But where was their heart after God? They had God’s Word, but they didn’t take God’s Word into their heart. 
  • So a parable; the land owner is God, the messengers sent were the prophets whom God had sent, they were the vine-growers, and Jesus is the Son. 
  • God kept trying to change their hearts; over and over God pursues you with His love.

Illus – God kept sending more prophets, like a GPS that keeps recalculating… Until you turn it off, that is.

Luke 13:34-35, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not have it. Behold, your house is left to you desolate." 

  • Finally, the son of the landowner is sent and he is killed also. That’s a picture of Israel rejecting Jesus as their Messiah.
  • Jesus then shows them that this is the fulfillment of the scripture which says, “The stone which the builders rejected this became the chief cornerstone…” 
  • But then verse 18; very powerful, “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”

B. The fruit of God is revival

  • The landowner wanted to receive some fruit from the vineyard; but they refused. The fruit that God desires is to see the life and character of God in our lives.

Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Illus - What a contrast to sour grapes; that's the fruit of unforgiveness and bitterness and carrying the hurt and wounds of many years in a bitter soul.

But fruit is good. It tastes good, it's pleasant and a blessing to everyone around it. God never talks about the brussel sprouts or the broccoli of the Spirit.

  • The fruit God desires in our lives comes from a living relationship where our souls are ignited because of what God is doing in our hearts.

John 15:5, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."

Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

II. Give God the Things that are God’s

  • The scribes and chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, but they feared the people, so they came up with a different plan; trap Him with an impossible question, “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
  • If He answered, “yes,” they knew the crowds would turn against Him. If he answered, “no,” they would turn Him over to the Romans as an insurrectionist.
  • At first they tried to relax His defenses by giving Him compliments. Interestingly, they actually knew these words were true, but they refused to respond to the truth.
  • Jesus doesn’t just confound them with His answer, He calls everyone to revival.
  • Let’s look at His answer.

A. Give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s

  • First, Jesus shows them their heart like a mirror…

Matthew 22:18, But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites!"

Psalm 139:2-4 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all.

  • Then Jesus asked for the coin used for the poll tax, and they brought Him a denarius. "Whose inscription is this?" They answered, "Caesar's." And He said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's…"
  • They were amazed at His answer and went away.
  • But we look at these words and there is much for us to learn and understand and apply to our lives today.
  • First, let's all agree that no one likes paying taxes. It was true then and is still true today.

Illus - Someone once calculated that the Jews at that time would have paid about 49% of their income in taxes. Today, depending on income, a person in the US could pay 55% in total taxes. Although in Denmark, a person may pay up to 68% in taxes.

Illus - We are not surprised that no one likes to pay taxes; we just wish they would spend it more carefully. But all you have to do is travel around the world to appreciate our roads, police, and fire services.

Romans 13:1, 7, Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities… Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

B. God is asking for your love

  • Jesus just didn't answer the question about the Roman poll tax; He called them to revival.
  • Caesar's inscription and image was on that coin and so it belonged to him and should be rendered back to him.
  • In a similar way, God's image and inscription is on our lives. God formed Adam out of the dust and then breathed His life into him.

Genesis 1:26, Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Illus - In Russia, I was witnessing to a man and I became quite close to. I so wanted him to have the joy of the Lord and eternal life, but he resisted. One day over breakfast he said, "Why doesn't God leave me alone to mind my own business?"

"Because He made you," I answered, "you're living on the earth He created, He gave you breath, and He made you with purpose and He gave you a will so that you can freely choose Him."

  • We owe God a response. God is reaching out to us with His love and an offer of eternal life and we owe him a response.

C. Know God’s Word and His power

  • Next, the Sadducees tried to trap Him, hoping to make Him look foolish. No doubt they pulled out their standard question they used to make all their opponents look foolish.
  • Even today there are favorite questions nonbelievers like to use to try to pin believers against a conundrum; questions like: Where did Cain get his wife? If a Christian donates his organs, what will happen at the rapture? Can God make a rock so big that even He cannot lift it?
  • The question comes out of Deuteronomy 25 which says that the man dies and has no son; the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall take her to himself as wife so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel and so the land will stay in that family and tribe.
  • The question; if a man married and died and left his wife to his brother, so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh, whose wife would she be in the resurrection?
  • If I was Jesus the first question I would've asked would have been, "What's the deal with this woman?" Seven husbands all dead?
  • Their belief in the resurrection was already challenged when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Instead of changing their beliefs, they sought to kill Lazarus. Isn't that interesting?

John 12:10, The chief priests (who were Sadducees) planned to put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.

  • Jesus immediately put His finger on the problem

Matthew 22:29, But Jesus said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the scriptures, or the power of God."

  • Know the scriptures and know the power of God, those are keys to keeping our lives from error.
  • First, we will not become angels. Second, there is no marrying in heaven. In fact, marriage on earth is a shadow, or a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church.
  • In heaven, we will still be who we are now, only glorified, perfected, both in body and soul. We will have relationships and be reunited with those we love who are in Christ.
  • We'll have God's perspective in heaven. 

Luke 20:1-40   NASB

1 On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, 2 and they spoke, saying to Him, "Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?" 3 Jesus answered and said to them, "I will also ask you a question, and you tell Me: 4 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?" 5 They reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Why did you not believe him?' 6 But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet." 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, "Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things."

9 And He began to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. 10 At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out. 13 The owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.' 14 But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, 'This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.' 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them?16 He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others." When they heard it, they said, "May it never be!" 17 But Jesus looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written: 'The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief cornerstone'? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust."

19 The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them. 20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. 21 They questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. 22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" 23 But He detected their trickery and said to them, 24"Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?" They said, "Caesar's." 25 And He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." 26 And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and being amazed at His answer, they became silent.

27 Now there came to Him some of the Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection), 28 and they questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife, and he is childless, his brother should marry the wife and raise up children to his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless; 30 and the second 31 and the third married her; and in the same way all seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally the woman died also. 33 In the resurrection therefore, which one's wife will she be? For all seven had married her."
 
34 Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38 Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him." 39 Some of the scribes answered and said, "Teacher, You have spoken well." 40 For they did not have courage to question Him any longer about anything.
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