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Thursday
Sep242015

When The Lord Questions You

Luke 20:41-47.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on September 20, 2015.

In the previous chapter we saw how Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of the hard hearts the people there had, especially the leaders.  This chapter has given us snapshots of the last week before the crucifixion, in which Jesus speaks to the people in the temple area.  This last attempt to turn their hearts runs into stiff opposition from the religious leaders.  Today we see that Jesus somewhat turns the table on them and asks them his own questions.  However, we should be careful of thinking that Jesus is only giving them a taste of their own medicine.  Rather, he specifically asks about a passage that is key to explaining who the Messiah really is and why they stumbled at the way Jesus spoke of his connection with The Father.  They claim to know so much.  But, if they would simply admit that there are some unexplained things in the Scriptures, they would be in a better position to accept what God was trying to reveal to them.  Jesus was the Son of God come down to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Jesus Exposes Their Willful Ignorance

There is nothing wrong with being ignorant.  All of us have areas of ignorance, no matter how smart we are.  No one can know all that mankind “knows,” much less all that is possible to be known.  Being ignorant is not a problem.  But, willful ignorance in the face of God’s revelation is a sin that we should be quick to repent of. 

The religious leaders questioned Jesus in order to undermine the authority that Jesus had with the common people, and to find fault with him.  Now God can handle our questions.  We can question Him, but we must recognize that when we are done He may have some questions for us.  This is part of the error of those who scoff and mock the Bible with questions that are clearly intended to manipulate how it looks rather than to find truth.  Go ahead and mock God’s Word, but also recognize that God will in turn have His time of questioning you.  Would you survive the same tactics against yourself that you employ against Him?  Honest questioning for the sake of Truth is not a threat to God.  But dishonest questions as a covering for sin and rejecting God will be shown for what they are.

They were calling Jesus a heretic because he called himself the Son of God.  I will share a couple of examples.  In Luke 19 Jesus told a parable about the owner of a vineyard.  At the end the owner sends his son to the caretakers and they kill him.  It was clear to the religious leaders that the owner was God, the vineyard was Israel, and they were the caretakers.  Notice that Jesus casts himself in the parable as the son of the owner.  This was not lost on them.  They resented and rejected his characterizations.  In John 10:30 Jesus said, “ ‘I and my Father are one.’  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, ‘Many good works I have shown you from my Father.  For which of those works do you stone me?’  The Jews answered Him saying, ‘For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God.’”  It is being disingenuous to say that they misinterpreted Jesus.  He knew what he was saying.  His “oneness” with the Father was a bold claim of sharing in the divine nature of God.  We also have Luke 22:70 when Jesus is on trial.  They ask him point blank if he is the son of God.  What is the response of Jesus?  “You rightly say that I am.”  This was not their main point for rejecting Jesus.  They had already done this from the beginning.  Yet, it became the leverage they needed to cover their evil desire to execute him.  So is it really blasphemy to claim that the Messiah would be the Son of God?  This is the heart of what Jesus is asking them when he points them to Psalm 110 in this passage.

First of all let’s establish the fact that the Messiah would be the son of David.  This was accepted by all parties involved.  It is in 2 Samuel 7:12-17 that God promises David that his kingdom and throne will be established forever.  God would not reject the claim of David’s family to the throne like He did with Saul.  Thus David’s line becomes essential moving forward.    The prophets picked up on this and added further revelation.  In Isaiah 9:6-7 we are told that One would sit on the throne of David who will be called: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.  Several of these titles pose some problems if you are contending that the Messiah will not have a divine nature.  Thus this coming Messiah would fulfill all that was missing in those earthly kings of David’s line.  Each successive king quickly proved that they were not the messiah and so Israel waited.  In Micah 5:2 it says, “You, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to me the one to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”  Again this coming messianic ruler is spoken of in terms that go beyond a mere human.  Yes, we can interpret it to mean that the prophecies about his coming are of old, though he is not.  But, it is phrased in such a way that doesn’t negate that his existence would be from ancient times.  Lastly, at the announcement to Mary of her coming pregnancy by the angel Gabriel, it says in Luke 1:32, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.”  So the messiah is the ultimate Son of David.  But it was being revealed to the people of the first century that he was more than a man.  He was the Son of God.  This was not in contradiction to Scripture and only made some Scriptures more understandable.  This leads us to Psalm 110 which Jesus quotes from in today’s Scripture portion.

The question that Jesus asks is this.  How can you say that the messiah is the son of David when David calls the messiah his Lord?  How can an earthly descendant of David also be his lord?  Now when we look at the verse we need to recognize that in the Psalms there are two different words being translated as Lord, in fact you will notice the first “LORD” is in all caps (or small caps) and the second is only capitalized.  This is because the translators are letting you know they are two different words.  Here is a rough translation that helps us see this.  “YHWH said to my adonai….  The first is a reference to the name of God given to Moses at Mt. Sinai.  Historically it has been translated as Jehovah or Yahweh.  The second is a term that refers to a king, master or teacher.  The word always places the person in authority another class (i.e. king to citizens, master to slave, teacher to disciples etc…).  Thus David is literally revealing that he saw the messiah (who would be a descendant of him) as his king and master.  When Jesus asks them how they can call the messiah the son of David, he is not doing it to say they are wrong. But, instead, he is taking them back to a messianic passage and saying, if statement one is true then how do you understand statement two.  Now the answer that is being revealed in the days of Jesus is that the body of Jesus was biologically from the line of David.  As a side not on this biological aspect of Jesus, we should note that the creative act of the Spirit in causing Mary’s pregnancy is not explained further.  Thus even the biology of the body of Jesus is at least partially from David and possibly also from God.  Yet, the spirit of Christ is from before David and has existed from the beginning. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  Jesus was the prophesied “Right hand” of God accomplishing salvation for himself. 

Though these were new truths that God was revealing regarding His plan, we must note that none of it is contradictory to the Old Testament.  This is the problem.  The religious leaders claim to know the truth and will not accept what Jesus is saying.  Yet, Jesus shows them that the very Scriptures they claim to know point to the very things that he is revealing.  Thus they are choosing to reject this new light.  This is what I meant earlier by a willful ignorance.  You might ask yourself this.  Is God trying to open my eyes to something that I am resisting and rejecting?  We know that God is working everyday to open the eyes of people to the Truth and yet many reject it.  One day you will be questioned by God himself.  He will expose the flimsy arguments that we use and give back to us according to how we questioned Him.  I encourage those who don’t accept Jesus as both man and divine to be careful how they deal with God’s Word and Christians, His people.  Do you want to be dealt with in the same way by Him?

He Exposes Their Sin

In verse 45 Jesus turns back to the people and warns them about the sin of the religious leaders.  Those who are going to follow Christ must first learn to avoid the pitfalls that keep people from accepting Jesus.  First, Jesus points out the misplaced desire and love that these religious leaders have.  Their desire was for public attention and the adoration of people rather than to please God.  They were filled with pride regarding their godliness, and yet, they did not really love God.  Instead, they loved to be honored and have the best.  There is nothing wrong with wanting people to approve of our actions.  But when that desire goes outside the proper boundaries it becomes an inordinate desire.  They desired man’s applause more than God’s.  They desired the authority that they had for their own purposes and ends rather than for the purposes of God.  This same sin is rampant today within the churches of the USA.  Our churches are overwhelmed with people who have inordinate desires and misplaced loves.  At the end of the day they are serving their own ego at the expense of the work of God.

The religious leaders also were taking advantage of the desperate within society.  Devouring widows houses is a reference to the way they would worm their way into receiving the money of widows while they live and in their deaths.  The term devour depicts the beastly nature of their actions.  They preyed upon the desperate situation of the widows in order to enrich themselves.  They loved money rather than those widows for whom they were to be a protection.  The love of money has infiltrated the churches of this country to the point that it has become a mark of godliness to be rich.   Although there is nothing wrong with being rich, we must recognize how inordinate desires and love pulls us away from God and in the “name of God” we pursue whatever our heart wants.  As long as we slap a Jesus sticker on it in the end, we are living godly.  If God rejected such mockeries then how much more will He reject those who bring ridicule to the Son of God whom we are supposed to be serving?

Jesus also points out their false piety.  They pray long prayers, not because they love talking with God, but because they love putting on a show for the people.  They are not as pious as they depict.  Such pretensions are false and are revolting to God.  We tend to follow spiritual leaders who look pious and godly.  Many are being misled because they foolishly do not look to the Scriptures.  God has warned us and exposed the methods of the unrighteous.  Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of trying to please men.  Focus on pleasing God and let the chips fall where they may.

Lastly, Jesus states that these leaders will receive a greater condemnation.  Why is this so?  They will receive greater condemnation because they spend their days studying and writing about the Scriptures and yet reject the very things the Scriptures are trying to teach, and they reject the very one who authored the Scriptures.  They receive a greater condemnation because they declare that they have the truth and force others to come under error and miss the truth.

Friend, the day will come when God will judge each and every one of us.  How will it go for me in that day?  It will not be the fact that we have sinned that will be the issue.  No, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Rather, it will be the fact of how we dealt with that sin.  Did I submit and plead guilty before the court of heaven?  Did I then cling to Jesus, the Son of God, to be my teacher and savior?  These men refused to hear what God was trying to teach them from the Scriptures and thus they missed the blessing He had for them.  Make sure you don’ t miss God’s blessing for you!

WhenTheLordQuestions Audio