*Authority to do What?*
*Text:* Luke 20:9–20
*Introduction:* “No rules, just right.” “Have it your way.” “No shirt, no
shoes, no service.” For a steak dinner or a fast-food burger, we love the
two . . . and we’re just glad we can comply easily enough with the other.
The first two could, apparently, make successful themes for major national
ad campaigns. The third, well, you might see it on the restaurant door, but
never on its commercials. That’s because we all like the idea of having
everything our own way, of being our own boss, and we don’t at all care for
somebody else telling us what we can and can’t do.
Okay, that’s all pretty frivolous, but there’s a real point here, isn’t
there? We all have a certain problem with authority—even, whether we like
to admit it or not, with God’s authority. In our text this morning, that
problem has been simmering, and in the next few days—or, in our church
year, in the next two weeks—it’s going to boil over into the crucifixion of
God’s own Son. You see,
3. Sinners’ natural perception is that God’s authority prevents them
from getting what they want.
a. The tenants in Jesus’ parable of the vineyard decide that the master’s
authority over his vineyard stands in the way of them having it themselves
b. Jesus’ authority has been persistently opposed all throughout Luke’s
(1) The view from 30,000 feet: 5:17–26, 33–39; 6:1–11; 11:14–16:31.
(2) The immediate context: 20:1–8, 20–26, 45–47.
c. In the parable, the authority that the vineyard owner delegates is also
(1) The servants (vv 10–12) represent the many prophets God sent to his
people (Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and others) whom Israel
(2) The owner’s son (vv 13–15), quite unmistakably, represents God’s Son,
the Christ, whom God’s tenants, Israel, would kill just days later.
(3) Incredibly, they believe this will cast off God’s authority and make
them their own masters.
d. You, followers of Jesus, you, his holy priesthood, have problems with
God’s authority too.
(1) You will be challenged by those who despise God’s authority—and
therefore your faith—and by the whole world system that makes evil seem
normal or even good.
(2) You yourself challenge God’s authority, spurred by your sinful nature
operating in cahoots with the world. There are things we want that we think
he’s holding back.
2. Those who remain stubbornly opposed to God’s authority will indeed
then receive no good news (vv 15–18).
a. All that they have will be taken away.
(1) The parable foretells the death of the Son but gives no indication of
his resurrection. The same Jewish leaders, when confronted with Jesus’
resurrection, will only see it as bad news (Mt 28:11–15).
(2) “What then does this Scripture mean?” Jesus will ask in his cryptic and
ominous quotation from Psalm 118. For those who reject Jesus, it’s bad news!
b. Those in our world who continue to oppose God’s authority—including the
mission he’s delegated to his Son—will also lose everything.
(1) Easter two weeks from today will be no celebration for those who
really wish Jesus dead.
(2) Do we repent of challenging God’s authority by our sin, or will we be
1. But how does God in fact desire us to see his authority over us?
a. Jesus’ enemies had entirely forgotten the point of millennia of God’s
authority over them.
(1) The master had planted this vineyard and entrusted it to them (v 9).
God had graciously been using and blessing Israel all along.
(2) He sent his son, even after his servants had been mistreated, begging
the tenants to repent (v 13).
(3) If they refused, he would “*give* the vineyard to others.” It’s still
always God’s desire to use his authority to give.
b. God has now given the vineyard to us.
(1) Christ Jesus died also for all the times we challenge God’s
authority—but he has risen!
(2) Therefore God holds no good thing back from us! He gives us everything
truly good as a gift.
(3) God wants us to understand that this is how he always wishes to
exercise his authority.
The Father and the Son Desire Us to See Their Authority Not as Withholding
what we want but as Giving what we need.
*Conclusion:* “Fear not, little flock,” Jesus says, “for it is your
Father’s good pleasure to give you” not just the vineyard but also “the
kingdom” (Lk 12:32). Giving is his style. Amen.