Shane L. Bishop
Jesus’ encounters with the religious establishment can take but two paths; Jesus topples their power base or they topple Jesus.
The parable of the vineyard has meaning for Christians the original audience would have missed. Remember Jesus told these things before his crucifixion and resurrection.
Clearly Jesus has power as long as the crowds support him…but crowds are fickle.
What appear to be exercises in semantics to us were life and death battles between Jesus and the religious establishment.
In the Caesar segment, Jesus does not prove to be a revolutionary. Caesar will always get his due; giving God what is God’s is our imperative.
In the second segment, Jesus affirms the afterlife and clears up some misconception concerning it.
A recurring theme is that Jesus answers theological trick questions really well and even beats his detractors at their own game.
A final rebuke of the hypocrisy of those questioning him closes the readings. In it we are reminded that no act of piety can make up for acting unjustly toward others. And religious leaders, who do such things, will receive even greater punishment from God.
Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek but he was never afraid to scrap with those leading others astray.
The Power of Silence
Jesus is a master at knowing what to say and when to say it. Jesus is also a master of knowing what not to say. Like Jesus, we need to be discerning with our witness. Is a person asking faith and theological questions out of genuine interest, or are they asking questions simply for the sake of arguing? If a person solely wants to debate, politely excuse yourself from the conversation, no one gets argued into heaven. If, however, they have a true desire to learn, then spend as much time as necessary to help them.
*Adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary of Luke