Luke 20:1-47

Daybreak for Students

Luke 20:1-47

Luke 20
And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders, And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority? — Luke 20:1-2

When my sister-in-law’s children were young, she provided in-home childcare for other youngsters as well. One day, the mother of one of the children came to pick up her son. However, Billy was playing with my nephew and did not want to leave, so he ignored his mother when she said it was time to go. She summoned him the second time, saying in a firmer tone, “Billy, you need to come now.” Still not inclined to comply, he defiantly responded, “You aren’t the boss of me!” There was a moment of absolute silence, and then his mother asked in a slow and measured tone, “What . . . did . . . you . . . say?” Billy, realizing his error, nervously responded, “No, I mean you and dad, you’re both the boss of me.”

I am not sure if Billy’s about-face got him out of trouble, but his quickly-modified reply illustrates that there is an appropriate response to people with authority, and also responses that are not appropriate. Authority is a concept accepted by most people, because without it, society would be chaotic. Some individuals, however, choose to reject authority. They typically pay a price: the world’s prisons are full of such rebels.

In today’s focus verse, the priests and scribes challenged Jesus’ authority as the divine Son of God by trying to entrap Him. If Jesus had responded to their question about where His authority came from by asserting it was from God, they would have accused Him of blasphemy. However, His response was to ask them a question which He knew they would not answer for political reasons. Since they would not respond to His query, according to tradition He was under no obligation to answer theirs.

Then Jesus told the parable of the vineyard, in which the husbandmen who had the responsibility of caring for the vineyard failed to provide the owner with a return on his investment. Obviously, the husbandmen had rejected the owner’s authority, and viewed the vineyard as theirs. The priests and scribes were furious when they heard this parable. They knew Jesus was pointing out their failure to care properly for the spiritual welfare of Israel, and their rejection of His authority as the long-awaited Messiah.

The priests and scribes of Jesus’ day are not the only ones to whom this parable relates. In society today, many challenge Jesus’ authority. The deity of Christ and the authority of His teachings are under continual onslaught from many, including atheistic college professors, anti-religious movie producers, ungodly authors, and immoral cultural activists. However, even widespread opposition does not change the facts.

The deity of Christ is the foundation of our faith. Rejection of the authority of Jesus Christ dismisses the fact that all mankind is born into sin, that there is an eternal penalty for sin, and that we have a responsibility toward God. In fact, every Biblical principle crumbles if Jesus is not God’s Son, come to earth to give His life for the salvation of mankind.

Let us honor and respect the authority of Jesus, the Son of God. He is worthy!


Luke paid great attention to detail, including dates and events that happened throughout the life of Christ, so today’s text in Luke chapter 20 gives another reliable glimpse into the opposition of Jewish religious leaders to Jesus’ ministry. This portion of Scripture records three occasions in which the chief priests and the scribes challenged His authority. First, we read of their question regarding the source of His authority, to which Jesus responded with His own question and the parable of the wicked husbandmen (verses 1-19). Next, they queried Him about paying taxes (verses 20-26). Finally, they asked questions about the resurrection (verses 27-47).

With respect to the parable of the vineyard and husbandmen, it was customary in Jesus’ day for property owners to have tenant farmers work their land. Absentee landlords were common, and in such cases, payments to the land owner were made at harvest time. Typically the relationship between the tenants and owners was good, and the tenants were grateful for the work.

Jesus’ mention of the “stone which the builders rejected” (verse 17) was a quote from Psalm 118:22. He was pointing out to the religious leaders that their rejection of Him was a fulfillment of prophesy. While Jesus’ words might have been obscure to some who were listening, the chief priests and scribes would have had no trouble in recognizing that Jesus was referring to them.

The religious leaders’ question in verse 22 was designed to entrap Jesus. If He had responded that they should pay taxes, they assumed Jesus’ hearers would turn against Him because of their hatred of the Roman oppressors. If He responded that they need not pay taxes, the religious leaders could turn Him in as a traitor to Rome. However, once again Jesus outwitted them by His response.

The Sadducees who questioned Jesus regarding the resurrection did not believe in resurrection, angels, or spirits (see Acts 23:8). Again, the motive of their question was to entrap Jesus. However, Jesus sidestepped their efforts by basing his answer on the writings of Moses, the only author of ancient writings that the Sadducees acknowledged as an authoritative source.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)

VII.    The passion of the Son of Man
   B.    The public ministry of the Son of Man concluded
       1.    The opposition of the priests (20:1-26)
           a.    Over authority (20:1-19)
               (1)    The question of authority (20:1-2)
               (2)    Jesus’ reply: a silencing question (20:3-8)
               (3)    The parable of His rejection and the promise of His triumph (20:9-19)
           b.    Over tribute (20:20-26)
               (1)    The question of taxes (20:20-22)
               (2)    Jesus’ reply (20:23-26)
       2.    The opposition of the Sadducees (20:27-38)
           a.    The question (20:27-33)
           b.    The reply (20:34-38)
       3.    The opposition of the scribes (20:39-40)
           a.    Their statements (20:39-40)
           b.    Jesus’ question (20:41-44)
           c.    Jesus’ condemnation of the scribes (20:45-47)


  1. What was the response of the chief priests and scribes to the question Jesus asked them in verse 4?

  2. Which verse in the parable given in Luke 20:9-16 do you think reveals the most about the motives and character of the Pharisees?

  3. What are some ways we can show compliance with God’s authority?


Like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, many today reject Christ’s authority. However, we want to be among those who acknowledge, respect, and obey Him.