In Luke 20 on this 20th day of this challenge, we find one of Jesus' most quoted text in the Bible. In Sunday School, hearing these words, "give unto Caesar that which is due unto Caesar' isn't an uncommon statement to hear back then. Even the not so smart students in the Sunday Schools can quote that part of the new testament. What does it mean? We will look into that today. However, before that verse, there was the parable of the vineyard, a parable that is often overlooked!
Even from a first read the lessons of this parable seems obvious. We would go.through the text and draw a significant conclusion that effects you and me and explains the grace of God that we enjoy today.
PARABLE OF THE VINEYARD: LUKE 20: 9-16
"Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the Lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God, forbid. Luke 20:9-16 KJV
To follow up on the challenge of the Jewish leaders to Jesus about the source of His authority, He tells a parable about some wicked tenants of a vineyard, who had wrongfully assumed ownership of that which was not their own. It is one of only three parables that occur in all three synoptic gospels (the sower and the mustard seed are the other two). The parable answers the question that the leaders had just asked Jesus: “By what authority are you doing these things?” If God owns the vineyard and Jesus is the Son and rightful heir to it, then He is acting under God’s authority. The Jewish leaders have wrongfully usurped the authority of God, the rightful owner.
To understand this parable, we must identify the characters:
Owner of the vineyard ….. God
The vineyard ……………. Israel
The tenant farmers ……… Religious leaders of Israel
Servants of the owner …… The prophets
Son/Heir of the owner ….. Jesus Christ
When they heard this parable, Jesus’ audience would immediately have thought about Isaiah 5:1-7, where the prophet calls Israel God’s vineyard and warns that He would lay it a waste because it produced only worthless grapes. Jesus shows that God expects fruit from His vineyard, but He emphasizes God’s great patience and love in sending many messengers and finally, His beloved Son. If His people produce no fruit and kill His Son, they will face His terrible judgment. But even though they kill His Son, He will triumph by becoming the chief cornerstone.
All of that which Christ talked about in this parable has come to pass even as we read this! All the prophets have been killed, Jesus has been killed and he has become the chief cornerstone. What else is there to learn from this parable again?
THE PRESENT ISRAEL
In Luke 20:16 we see how this parable can apply to us today,
"He shall come and destroy these husbandmen and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God, forbid"
The statement to note here is "and shall give the vineyard to others". It is from this announcement that the formation of God's kingdom.changed! The spiritual leadership of God's vineyard before now has always been the Pharisees and Sadducees, but from the moment that judgment was pronounced that spiritual leadership was given to the Gentile nations! Hence today in the body of Christ worldwide the mantle of leadership is not on anyone Jewish by birth or Israelite by natural birth but Israelite by spiritual birth!
And this is also because God's vineyard today does not only include Israel again, but as many as accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and savior has been regrafted into this holy vineyard of God!
"Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root. If the primary root of the tree is holy, there’s bound to be some holy fruit. Some of the tree’s branches were pruned and your wild olive shoots were grafted in. Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to crow over the pruned branches. Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you. It’s certainly possible to say, “Other branches were pruned so that I could be grafted in!” Well and good. But they were pruned because they were deadwood, no longer connected by belief and commitment to the root. The only reason you’re on the tree is that your graft “took” when you believed and because you’re connected to that belief-nurturing root. So don’t get cocky and strut your branch. Be humbly mindful of the root that keeps you lithe and green. If God didn’t think twice about taking pruning shears to the natural branches, why would he hesitate over you? He wouldn’t give it a second thought. Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and ruthless severity that exist side by side in God—ruthless with the deadwood, gentle with the grafted shoot. But don’t presume on this gentleness. The moment you become deadwood, you’re out of there. And don’t get to feeling superior to those pruned branches down on the ground. If they don’t persist in remaining deadwood, they could very well get grafted back in. God can do that. He can perform miracle grafts. Why, if he could graft you —branches cut from a tree out in the wild—into an orchard tree, he certainly isn’t going to have any trouble grafting branches back into the tree they grew from in the first place. Just be glad you’re in the tree, and hope for the best for the others" Romans 11:16-24 MSG
By faith we were grafted into God's vineyard and only by faith would we remain grafted for life!
And this is why Jesus came forward in John 15 to give us, the new spiritual Israelites how to not suffer the fate the first vineyard suffered!
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abides not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples" John 15:1-8 KJV
There are few lessons to pick from these verses starting from verse 1 to 8, I will briefly mention them and leave the Holy Spirit to speak more into our heart as we meditate on this.
•Fruitfulness is what guarantees continued connection to the vine!
•Fruitfulness guarantees the renewal of the vine for the purpose of bringing forth more fruit. The fruitful vine is the one that is purged to bring forth more fruit!
•Fruitfulness is guaranteed when we are connected to the vine!
•Abiding in the word is our surest connection to the vine!
•Fruitfulness is the key proof of discipleship. True disciples of Christ produce spiritual fruits!
•Our fruitfulness, not our barrenness, is what brings glory to the father!
From today, no one shall be barren again! Amen!
Paul's words in Romans 11 rings in the ears again, "But don’t presume on this gentleness. The moment you become deadwood, you’re out of there". Deadwoods have no place in the kingdom!
GIVE TO CAESAR
We would round up the study of Luke chapter 20 with Jesus famous statement in verse 25,
"And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's". Luke 20:25 KJV
What are the implications of Christ's statement here? What is this verse and what can we learn from it?
Luke 20:25 is best understood when read in context. At this time, the Lord Jesus was questioned by some Pharisees about paying taxes. Let's read Luke 20:20-25 so we can understand it better.
"So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor. Then they asked Him, saying, "Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, "Why do you test Me? Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?" They answered and said, "Caesar's." And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's
From this passage, we understand that Jesus was talking about doing what is lawful and right. He went beyond paying taxes and focused on something more important: giving to whom it is due.
So what can we learn from Luke 20:25? Here are a few.
1) We ought to honor the leaders above us
What Jesus said pointed out an obvious but often neglected truth: that we should honor the leaders above us. Rome might have been bad to the Jews, but the fact is that it remained the government above the Jews, and so the Jews were to honor it.
In the same way, God wants us to give to the leaders above us what is due to them. Whether or not our leaders are good and Godly or bad and ungodly, we ought to pray for them and do what is right to them.
2) We ought to honor God
Next, the Lord Jesus' words tell us that we should honor God and give Him the praise and glory that He deserves. He should praise for who He is and what He has done, and we should not steal the glory from Him.
Many Christians fail in this. We forget to give God the glory He deserves. Ministers emphasize their ministry. Individual Christians emphasize their personal Godliness. We tend to take credit for something that God should be credited for.
3) We are to remember who we are and to who we belong to
When combined with verse 24, we have a powerful lesson on self-image and honoring the Lord. Jesus said in verse 24, "Whose image and inscription does it have?"
Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that we are made in the image of God. When we look at ourselves in the mirror or our smartphone cameras, we ought to realize and recognize God - not because we're God, but because He made us in His own image and likeness.
This simple thing ought to change the way we think about ourselves and others.
Because we are made in God's image, we render to Him what belongs to Him. We give Him our lives.
We also learn to see God in every person we encounter, saved or unsaved. We cultivate God's love in our hearts so we can love everyone and share the Gospel with them.