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LUKE - Christ, the Savior of the World
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to Luke


3. The Sanhedrin Questions Jesus About the Source of His Authority (Luke 20:1-8)

LUKE 20:01-08
1 Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him 2 and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?” 3 But He answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: 4 The baptism of John -- was it from heaven or from men?” 5 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe Him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it was from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Jesus loved the common people. He went to the temple every day, rushing into the dangers of death, taught, and preached to the multitudes that waited for him with interest. With this teaching he established his hearers who began to believe in him and in his heavenly Father. His preaching was a piercing invitation to those who were far away from God to return to the heavenly Father, confess their sins, and become broken in their pride. Not only did Jesus preach the law, but also revealed to his hearers the good news of the love of God. He explained to them his own presence and his triumph over sin, so that hope, faith, and love might grow in them. The multitudes felt that the dominion of God was present among them, and that heaven was open, and grace had appeared.

Yet when the leaders of the people saw how the multitudes held fast to Jesus, they got ready to attack and take counsel together against him, eager to catch Jesus in their net. So the Sanhedrists met together to test Jesus and arrest him. We read here about “chief priests” in the plural, which indicates their breach of the law, which stipulated that only one priestly chief should be appointed. But the Sanhedrin in its continuous conflict with the occupying power yielded from time to time to its command dismissing some of the chiefs and appointing others according to its instructions, until both parties found their object in Caiaphas, the cunning fox, who matched by means of his religious opinions the judgments of the law and the Roman desires which were contrary to the law. The Sanhedrin had the right to ask Jesus officially who he was, and where he came from. By these questions, they drove him to reveal himself openly, inquiring about the power working in him, and the source of this power. They did not ask him about his many works and miracles, nor did they scrutinize the meaning of his powerful words, but they grilled him, so that he would disclose who he was. If he said he was Christ, they would quickly destroy him, for the multitudes were looking for a war-like, political, victorious Christ triumphing with glory and might. If he denied he was Christ, and said he was just a prophet, a social reformer, or a preacher of repentance, then the people would leave him and not care for him. This is about the first question.

If he answered the second question about the source of his power, that he is the Son of God, they would immediately stone him, for they believed that God had no son. And if he said that his authority was derived from natural sources, or from his own power, then they would tear him to pieces, considering him to be the devil himself.

Jesus saw their wicked trick, and caught them in the same net which they prepared for him. He asked them in his divine authority a counter question, in return for theirs, about the authority of John the Baptist; but they found themselves in the same condition in which they wanted to put him. So they consulted one with another to no avail, and could not answer him. They were not willing in their hard-heartedness, to repent and submit to Christ, confessing that John was a servant of God, for he had asked them to confess their sins and be baptized openly. They had derided the poor repentant people, considering themselves righteousness. Yet the people, particularly after John was beheaded, were agitated and convinced that the Baptist was really God’s messenger and truthful prophet. They were prepared, in their rage, to stone even those religious leaders if they said that John the Baptist was not a saint of God.

While the leaders were at a loss, not agreeing unanimously on any one of the many answers they had in mind, the people waited to see what they would reply. None of the rulers was prepared to confess the truth that was hidden in his heart, neither negatively nor positively. In the end lied, saying, “We do not know where John the Baptist was from.” This answer was Christ’s greatest victory over them, for Jesus led the Sanhedrists to confess their ignorance before the people. It was a great defeat.

The Son of God condemned their lying with his condemning word: “Neither will I tell you who I am, and where I came from. You know the truth, but you neither obey it, nor open your hearts to it. You try to turn truth into lying, and therefore you will be destroyed. Go away and be ashamed of your repulsive craftiness, for the wisdom of the Spirit of God is more prudent than all the nets of your devilish lies. This is why, dear brother, you do not have to care about what you will say and reply when unbelievers call you to appear before their courts, for then the Holy Spirit will inspire you with the proper answer, if you submit yourself to his guidance at all times.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Son of God. We worship you and know that the powers of heaven and the attributes of your Father work in you. You are the Triumphant Savior and Redeemer. Accept me. Accept my friends, and whoever seeks you. Embrace us in your dominion, and preserve us in your truth.

QUESTION 119: Why did Jesus not answer the questions put by the delegation of the leaders of the nation?


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