The Authority of Jesus Questioned.a 1One day as he was teaching the people in the temple area and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and scribes, together with the elders, approached him 2and said to him, “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Or who is the one who gave you this authority?”b 3He said to them in reply, “I shall ask you a question. Tell me, 4was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin?”c 5They discussed this among themselves, and said, “If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’d 6But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ then all the people will stone us, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7So they answered that they did not know from where it came. 8Then Jesus said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
The Parable of the Tenant Farmers.* 9e Then he proceeded to tell the people this parable. “[A] man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and then went on a journey for a long time.f 10At harvest time he sent a servantg to the tenant farmers to receive some of the produce of the vineyard. But they beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. 11So he proceeded to send another servant, but him also they beat and insulted and sent away empty-handed. 12Then he proceeded to send a third, but this one too they wounded and threw out. 13The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I shall send my beloved son; maybe they will respect him.’h 14But when the tenant farmers saw him they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him that the inheritance may become ours.’ 15So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.* What will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16He will come and put those tenant farmers to death and turn over the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they exclaimed, “Let it not be so!” 17But he looked at them and asked, “What then does this scripture passage mean:
‘The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?i
18Everyone who falls on that stone will be dashed to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” 19The scribes and chief priests sought to lay their hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people, for they knew that he had addressed this parable to them.j
Paying Taxes to the Emperor.k 20* They watched him closely and sent agents pretending to be righteous who were to trap him in speech,l in order to hand him over to the authority and power of the governor. 21They posed this question to him, “Teacher, we know that what you say and teach is correct, and you show no partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.m 22Is it lawful for us to pay tribute to Caesar or not?”* 23Recognizing their craftiness he said to them, 24“Show me a denarius;* whose image and name does it bear?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” 25So he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”n 26They were unable to trap him by something he might say before the people, and so amazed were they at his reply that they fell silent.
The Question About the Resurrection.o 27Some Sadducees,* those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him,p 28* saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’q 29Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. 30Then the second 31and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. 32Finally the woman also died. 33Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.” 34Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and are given in marriage; 35but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.* 37That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;r 38and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”s 39Some of the scribes said in reply, “Teacher, you have answered well.” 40And they no longer dared to ask him anything.t
The Question About David’s Son.* 41u Then he said to them, “How do they claim that the Messiah is the Son of David? 42For David himself in the Book of Psalms says:v
‘The Lord said to my lord,
“Sit at my right hand
43till I make your enemies your footstool.”’
44Now if David calls him ‘lord,’ how can he be his son?”
Denunciation of the Scribes.w 45Then, within the hearing of all the people, he said to [his] disciples, 46“Be on guard against the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and love greetings in marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.x 47They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”
* [20:1–47] The Jerusalem religious leaders or their representatives, in an attempt to incriminate Jesus with the Romans and to discredit him with the people, pose a number of questions to him (about his authority, Lk 20:2; about payment of taxes, Lk 20:22; about the resurrection, Lk 20:28–33).
* [20:9–19] This parable about an absentee landlord and a tenant farmers’ revolt reflects the social and economic conditions of rural Palestine in the first century. The synoptic gospel writers use the parable to describe how the rejection of the landlord’s son becomes the occasion for the vineyard to be taken away from those to whom it was entrusted (the religious leadership of Judaism that rejects the teaching and preaching of Jesus; Lk 20:19).
* [20:15] They threw him out of the vineyard and killed him: cf. Mk 12:8. Luke has altered his Marcan source and reports that the murder of the son takes place outside the vineyard to reflect the tradition of Jesus’ death outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem (see Heb 13:12).
* [20:20] The governor: i.e., Pontius Pilate, the Roman administrator responsible for the collection of taxes and maintenance of order in Palestine.
* [20:22] Through their question the agents of the Jerusalem religious leadership hope to force Jesus to take sides on one of the sensitive political issues of first-century Palestine. The issue of nonpayment of taxes to Rome becomes one of the focal points of the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66–70) that resulted in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. See also note on Mt 22:15–22.
* [20:24] Denarius: a Roman silver coin (see note on Lk 7:41).
* [20:27] Sadducees: see note on Mt 3:7.
* [20:28–33] The Sadducees’ question, based on the law of levirate marriage recorded in Dt 25:5–10, ridicules the idea of the resurrection. Jesus rejects their naive understanding of the resurrection (Lk 20:35–36) and then argues on behalf of the resurrection of the dead on the basis of the written law (Lk 20:37–38) that the Sadducees accept. See also notes on Mt 22:23–33.
* [20:36] Because they are the ones who will rise: literally, “being sons of the resurrection.”
* [20:41–44] After successfully answering the three questions of his opponents, Jesus now asks them a question. Their inability to respond implies that they have forfeited their position and authority as the religious leaders of the people because they do not understand the scriptures. This series of controversies between the religious leadership of Jerusalem and Jesus reveals Jesus as the authoritative teacher whose words are to be listened to (see Lk 9:35). See also notes on Mt 22:41–46.
a. [20:1–8] Mt 21:23–27; Mk 11:27–33.
e. [20:9–19] Mt 21:33–46; Mk 12:1–12.
g. [20:10–12] 2 Chr 36:15–16.
i. [20:17] Ps 118:22; Is 28:16.
j. [20:19] 19:47–48; 22:2; Mt 21:46; Mk 11:18; 12:12; 14:1–2; Jn 5:18; 7:30.
k. [20:20–26] Mt 22:15–22; Mk 12:13–17.
o. [20:27–40] Mt 22:23–33; Mk 12:18–27.
t. [20:40] Mt 22:46; Mk 12:34.
u. [20:41–44] Mt 22:41–45; Mk 12:35–37.
w. [20:45–47] 11:37–54; Mt 23:1–36; Mk 12:38–40.