BACKED INTO A CORNER
Luke 20:1-2 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?
Susie: Several commentators say these events probably occurred on the Tuesday of Passion Week. The entry on the colt would have been on Sunday and the cleansing of the Temple on Monday. Jesus was teaching and “preaching the gospel” in the temple. The word used for preaching, evangelizing, is used most by Paul and Luke:
Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers as quoted at https://biblehub.com/luke/20-1.htm
And preached the gospel.--The Greek verb (to evangelise) is one specially characteristic of St. Luke. Neither St. Mark nor St. John use it at all; St. Matthew once only (Matthew 11:5), in a passive sense; St. Luke ten times in the Gospel, fifteen times in the Acts. So in the Epistles, neither St. John nor St. James use it; St. Peter once; St. Paul twenty times. It, too, was clearly one of the words which the two friends and fellow-workers had in common.
Susan: The chief priests, scribes, and elders together comprised the body of the Sanhedrin. This suggests that there may have been a secret meeting of the Sanhedrin for the purpose of brainstorming methods to entrap Jesus with His own words.
Susie: Their first attempt was to ask Jesus whether John the Baptist had a valid commission from God to baptize people or it was just an idea thought up by men.
Luke 20:3-4 And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?
Susan: Jesus wisely backed His detractors into a corner with His question about the authority of John the Baptist. No matter which way they answered, they would be in trouble with the people.
Susie: John had introduced Jesus onto the scene immediately after baptizing Him in the Jordan River. He had gone so far as to point blank declare Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God.
John 1:32-36 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
Susan: By using the term “Lamb of God” John was proclaiming Jesus to be the final, perfect sacrifice for our sins. He was prophesying the end of the sacrificial system and the beginning of salvation by grace through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Luke 20:5-6 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not? But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.
Susie: The chief priests, scribes, and elders discussed the fact that if they said John baptized in the name of the Lord, people would ask why they hadn’t been baptized themselves and why they did not believe him as a prophet when he declared Jesus to be the Son of God.
Susan: If they proclaimed John’s baptism to be from men, all those who understood John to be a prophet might turn on them, hurling stones to kill them.
Luke 20:7 And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.
Susie: Being the big, fat chickens that they were, they just said they didn’t know. They knew that either answer could be political suicide if not physical suicide.
Susan: They also had no desire to die that day.
Luke 20:8 And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
Susan: Jesus told them if they could not answer His question, He did not need to answer theirs, nor was it required of Him. He knew they were trying to trick Him into declaring God as His Father which they could then proclaim “blasphemy” and have an excuse to arrest Him.
Ponder this and Apply it: The religious leaders of His day tried many times to trick Jesus into saying something they could twist into being against their Law or equating Himself with God which they would have seen as blasphemy even though He would have been speaking the truth. He kept His wits about Him and replied carefully each time, displaying great wisdom. Our own source of wisdom is the word of God, the Bible. Those who do not believe in God, nor trust in Jesus, will try to get Christians to speak rashly or angrily. They will provoke us. We must remain calm, trust the Lord, and rely on the wisdom we have learned in His word. Our weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Do we have it stored up in our hearts in order to be prepared to give a defense? (Psalm 119:11, 1 Peter 3:15).