This chapter begins with the Jewish establishment questioning the authority with which Jesus’s teaches and which caused him, at the end of Chapter 19 to “cleanse the temple”. Jesus answers their question somewhat directly in vv. 3-8, but then takes it all a little deeper by the parable that he offers in vv. 9-18.
This parable, known as the Parable of the Wicked Tenants represents the dichotomy that Jesus sets up between he and the Jewish temple establishment. Not only is this parable a condemnation of those Jews who reject Jesus, but it’s also a premonition, a prediction, a prophesy, taken from the Book of Psalms, the Prophet Isaiah and the Book of Daniel about Jesus himself.
There seems to be an out-of-place section here about paying taxes (vv. 19-26). When you take into account what occurs in vv. 27- 47, the seven previous verses seem out of place. But let’s take a look at it.
The question to Jesus is very simple, but there’s a sinister purpose behind the question. Notice the language that Luke uses to show Jesus’s insight. There is a certain irony to Jesus’s answer though. While the coin may belong to Caesar because his image is on it, and the things of God belong to God, ultimately, everything, including the coin with Caesar’s image, and even Caesar himself belong to God. Jesus’s response is somewhat tongue-in-cheek and of there is a slight recognition of that in that those who tried to trap him in treason could only marvel at his answer (v. 26).
There are then three sections following in which Jesus sort of returns to this theme about the temple. The destruction of the temple and the resurrection of the dead are commonly connected because they both signal the “end of the age”- the coming of the Messiah, the Last Judgment and the End of Time. Notice the question of the disciples in v. 41 that harkens back to the questions about Jesus’s authority and the parable of the wicked tenants.
Jew’s believed that the Messiah would come from the House of David, a descendant of the great King. Joseph, Jesus’s foster father, was from the House of David so that provides his royal lineage. Luke uses a verse from the Book of Psalms to reemphasize that King David was not the Messiah, but that the verse refers to Jesus.
Point for Prayer
“Jesus, Lord and Master, your authority is full of love, honoring my freedom, but calling me for an obedience that will make me fully human. Your commands are calls of love intending a creative remaking of my heart. Give me the wisdom to see the purpose of you commands and the grace to make an obedient response. Amen” (179).