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A Day of Controversy

20 One day Jesus was teaching in the temple courts and sharing with the people the wonderful news of salvation.[a] The high priest, the experts of the law, and the prominent men of the city confronted Jesus and asked him, “We want to know right now by what authority are you teaching here in the temple? And who gave you the authority to teach these things?”

Jesus responded, “First, let me ask you a question and you tell me right now. Did John baptize because he had a commission from heaven or merely from men?”

His interrogators pulled themselves aside to consider how to respond to Jesus. “What should we say? If we say that John’s mandate was from heaven, he will ask us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him and be baptized?’ But if we say, ‘John’s mandate was merely from men,’ then all the people around him will stone us, for they believe John was a prophet of God.” So unable to devise an answer they said to Jesus, “We cannot tell where John’s authority came from.”

Jesus said, “Then neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

The Story of the Vine Growers

Jesus taught the people using this story:

“A man once planted a vineyard, then leased it out to tenants. Then he left to go abroad and was away for a long time. 10 At harvest time, the owner sent one of his servants to the tenants to collect the landowner’s share of the harvest, but the tenants sent him away, beaten and empty-handed. 11 So the owner dispatched another one of his servants to collect his portion, but the tenants treated him the same way. They cursed him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 Then the owner sent a third servant, but they brutalized him also with the same treatment. 13 Finally the owner of the vineyard said to his son, ‘Perhaps if I send you, my own cherished son, they will be ashamed of what they’ve done.’[b]

14 “But when the tenants saw the son coming, they schemed among themselves. ‘This is the heir of the vineyard! If we kill him, the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw the son off the property and killed him.

“I ask you, what do you think the owner of the vineyard will do to his son’s murderers? 16 He will come back and destroy them and give his vineyard to another.”

When the people heard this story, they all agreed, “This should never happen!”

17 Jesus looked straight at the people and their leaders and said, “What do you think this verse means? ‘The worthless, rejected stone has become the cornerstone, the most important stone of all.’[c] 18 Everyone who falls in humility upon that stone will be broken. But if that stone falls on you, it will grind you to pieces!”

19 When the high priests and experts of the law realized that this story was about them, they wanted to have Jesus arrested that very moment, but they were afraid of all the people.

Paying Taxes

20 Later, they sent spies who pretended to be honest seekers, but who wanted an opportunity to entangle Jesus by his words. Their plan was to catch him saying something against the government, so they could hand him over to the jurisdiction of the Roman authorities who would execute him for sedition.

21 At the right time they asked him this question: “Teacher, we know that all you say is straightforward and what you teach us is right. You give us the true ways of God. You’re one who shows no favoritism to anyone’s status. So we ask you— 22 is it proper or not to pay taxes to a corrupt government?”[d]

23 Jesus saw right through their cunning ploy and said, “Why are you testing me?[e] 24 Show me one of the Roman coins. Whose head is on the coin? Whose title is stamped on it?”

They answered, “Why, it’s Caesar’s.”

25 Jesus said, “Precisely. The coin[f] bears the image of the Emperor Caesar, and you should give back to Caesar all that belongs to him. But you bear the image of God. So give back to God all that belongs to him.”

26 The imposters were left speechless and amazed in the presence of all the people, unable to trap Jesus with his words.

A Question about the Resurrection

27 Some of the Sadducees (a religious group that denies there is a resurrection of the dead) came to ask Jesus this question: 28 “Teacher, the law of Moses[g] teaches that if a man dies before he has children, his brother should marry the widow and raise up children for his brother’s family line. 29 Now suppose there was a family with seven brothers, and the oldest married and died without children. 30–31 Then his brother married the widow, and he too died with no children. And it continued to happen, one brother after another brother, until each of the seven had married the widow and died childless. 32 Then finally, the widow died too. So here’s our dilemma: 33 Whose wife will the woman be when she’s resurrected from the dead? Which of the brothers will be her husband, since all seven were once married to her?”

34 Jesus replied, “Marriage is meant for this world only. 35–36 Those who are worthy of the resurrection from the dead into glory become immortal, like the angels, who never die nor marry. When the dead come to life again, they will be children of God—the children of the resurrection. 37 Even Moses taught the resurrection of the dead[h] when he wrote of the Lord God who was at the burning bush and said ‘I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ 38 Don’t you agree that God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living? For in his eyes, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive forevermore. He is the God who raises the dead.”

39 The experts of the law[i] chimed in, “Yes, Teacher, you speak the truth beautifully.”

40 From then on, the religious Sadducees never dared ask Jesus a question again.

The Messiah, Both God and Man

41 Jesus then posed this question to the people: “How can the experts of the law[j] say that Messiah is David’s son? 42 Haven’t you read in the Psalms where David himself wrote:

The Lord Yahweh said to my Lord,[k]
    ‘Sit near me in the place of authority
43 until I subdue all your enemies under Your feet!’ ”[l]

44 Jesus explained, “If David calls this one ‘my Lord,’ how can he be his son?”[m]

Jesus Denounces the Experts of the Law

45 Within earshot of all the people, Jesus warned his disciples, 46 “Don’t follow the example of these pretentious experts of the law! They love to parade around in their religious garments so that people honor them wherever they go. They like to sit right up front in every meeting and push their way to the head table at every banquet. 47 And for an offering they will pray long religious prayers at the homes of widows,[n] cheating them out of their very livelihood. Beware of them all, because one day the Judge will strip them of honor, and judge them severely.”

Footnotes

  1. 20:1 Translated from the Aramaic text.
  2. 20:13 Translated from the Aramaic text.
  3. 20:17 See Ps. 118:22; Isa. 8:14–15; 28:16.
  4. 20:22 The Greek text states, “to the emperor.”
  5. 20:23 Although not found in most Greek manuscripts, it is included in the Aramaic text.
  6. 20:25 Actual coins from that era have been found with the emperor’s image and a superscription saying, “Tiberius Caesar Augustus, son of the divine Augustus.”
  7. 20:28 See Deut. 25:5–10.
  8. 20:37 See Ex. 3:6.
  9. 20:39 Historically, these “experts of the law” (Pharisees) were opposed to, and argued with, the Sadducees over their disbelief of a supernatural resurrection.
  10. 20:41 Or “scribes,” as translated from the Aramaic.
  11. 20:42 A Hebrew translation of this passage would read “Yahweh said to my Adonai.” Paraphrased it would read “The Lord (God) said to my protecting Lord (Messiah).”
  12. 20:43 See Ps. 110:1. Translated from the Aramaic and one Greek manuscript. Most Greek texts have “until all your enemies become a footstool under your feet.”
  13. 20:44 Jesus is challenging them to consider that the Christ will be both God and man (David’s son and David’s Lord).
  14. 20:47 Translated from the Aramaic. The implication is that the religious leaders would go and pray at the homes of widows, then intimidate them and ask for offerings.

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