Luke 20 contains a few familiar stories and parables that we have seen other authors write about. The religious leaders are bent on trying to discredit Jesus. He is rocking their world and they don’t like it one bit. In fact, they really dislike it a lot. Their power has been threatened and like most leaders, they are all about staying in control. Hardly goes with the concept of servant leadership does it? No question that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were not focused on others – and serving their needs – they were focused on self and making things as positive for themselves as they could. So this guy from Nazareth was throwing a big wrench in their otherwise comfortable lives. He began to get very personal in the story of the vineyard when He talks about the tenants killing the servants who were sent to gather some fruit, and then the killing of the Son who was sent. This foretelling of what was to come was not understood by the leaders of that day, but certainly does point to what was coming in His life and God’s Story. What causes us to believe that we can kill the messenger of any truth and cause it to go away? Truth is not dependent on the messenger. It is based on the Author.
But they were focused on finding a way to discredit Him and “they watched and sent spies who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch Him in something”. Things are getting desperate now. They couldn’t trip Jesus up in the normal interaction around His teaching, so now they have sent some people in under cover to try and intentionally trip Him up. They fail to realize just who they are dealing with and attempt to get Him to say something against Caesar around taxes. “He perceived their craftiness” – it doesn’t say they were bad at being liars – but that He was perceptive to their motives. This is how God is my friends. He knows the condition of the heart – and Jesus did too. Scripture tells us over and over that it isn’t the outward things that God measures as much as the inward drivers. He wants our heart right. These deceivers didn’t stand a chance in catching Jesus. He knew their every move. And the attempts of the Sadducees that followed. Jesus was not deceived for a minute. He can see right through the words we say or the external actions we take and cuts to the heart. We need to keep that truth in mind. The end result of this little cat and mouse game? Jesus makes it clear that those who have been given places of responsibility “will receive the greater condemnation” based on how they live. With authority comes responsibility and accountability. God will hold leaders and teachers to a higher standard. There is more at stake and we need to realize that how we lead and teach makes a difference. Life matters. We need to live it well, and live it His way!