Luke 20

Verbal Clashes[a]

Chapter 20

The Authority of Jesus Questioned.[b] 1 One day as Jesus was teaching in the temple and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and scribes, accompanied by the elders, approached and 2 said to him, “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things. Or who is it that gave you this authority?” 3 He said to them in reply, “I will also ask you one question. Tell me: 4 Did John’s baptism originate from heaven or from men?”

5 The question caused them to discuss it among themselves, saying, “If we say: ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say: ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.”

7 Therefore, they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Then neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

The Parable of the Tenants.[c] 9 Then Jesus began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenants, and went off on a journey for a long period.

10 “When the time arrived, he sent a servant to the tenants to receive his share of the produce of the vineyard. But the tenants beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. 11 Again, he sent another servant, but him they also beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 Then he sent a third servant, but him too they wounded and cast out.

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 And so they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and put those tenants to death and give the vineyard to others.”

When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!” 17 But Jesus looked directly at them and said, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:

‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken into pieces, and the one on whom it falls will be crushed.”

19 The scribes and the chief priests realized that this parable was directed at them, and they wanted to seize him at that very hour, but they feared the people.

20 God or Caesar.[d] So they watched him closely and sent spies who pretended to be honorable men. They intended to trap Jesus in something he might say so that they could hand him over to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21 They posed this question to him: “Teacher, we know that you say and teach what is right. Moreover, you show no partiality to anyone but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it lawful or not for us to pay taxes to Caesar?”

23 Jesus saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a coin.[e] Whose image is this, and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Give to Caesar what is due to Caesar, and to God what is due to God.” 26 They found they could not trap him by anything he said in the presence of the people, and, stunned at his reply, they fell silent.

27 Marriage and the Resurrection.[f] Then some Sadducees, who assert that there is no resurrection, approached him and posed this question: 28 “Teacher, Moses wrote down for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must marry his brother’s wife and raise up children for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first married a woman but died childless. 30 Then the second 31 and the third married the widow, and it was the same with all seven: they all died leaving no children. 32 Last of all, the woman also died. 33 Now at the resurrection, whose wife will the woman be, inasmuch as all seven had her?”

34 Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are judged worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection of the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. 36 They are no longer subject to death, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are children of the resurrection.

37 “That the dead are raised Moses himself showed in the account about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for in his sight all are alive.”

39 Some of the scribes then said, “Teacher, you have answered well.” 40 And they no longer dared to ask him anything.

41 Jesus Is Lord.[g] Then Jesus said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David? 42 For David himself says in the Book of Psalms:

‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
43 until I make your enemies your footstool.” ’

44 David thus calls him ‘Lord’; so how can he be his son?”

45 Denunciation of the Scribes.[h] While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes and who love to be greeted respectfully in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour the houses of widows, while for the sake of appearance they recite lengthy prayers. They will receive the severest possible condemnation.”


  1. Luke 20:1 “Who gave you this authority?” Sooner or later, such a question was bound to be asked of Jesus. However, coming from the members of the Jewish high tribunal, it is nothing more than a snare. Jesus places himself in solidarity with John the Baptist, the envoy of God. If they do not have the courage to speak about the dead prophet, how can they be ready to loyally confront the response of Christ? He reduces them to silence, debate being useless.
  2. Luke 20:1 See note on Mk 11:27-33.
  3. Luke 20:9 When we read ch. 5 of Isaiah, we understand that it is God who puts the authorities of this people on trial. The parable sums up in a few words the entire history of conflict between the leaders and God’s messengers; is not the last messenger, that is, the heir, Jesus himself? See also note on Mt 21:33-46.
  4. Luke 20:20 The tribute was a tax collected by the Roman occupiers. To justify its payment meant collaborating with the enemy of the people; to disallow its payment meant labeling oneself as rebellious in the eyes of the Romans. The snare seems to be inescapable, but Jesus foils the plan by loudly proclaiming the absolute primacy of God (see Lk 12:31). See also note on Mt 22:15-22.
  5. Luke 20:24 Coin: i.e., a denarius, the normal day’s wage for a laborer at that time.
  6. Luke 20:27 The party of the Jewish high priests had not yet accepted the belief in the resurrection that had been proclaimed for two or three centuries (Dan 12:2-3) and that the Pharisees had accepted (see Acts 23:8). When the present life is taken as a model of the future life, the reality of the resurrection is misunderstood, since the resurrection radically transforms the human condition.
  7. Luke 20:41 Most Jews expected the Messiah to be simply an heir of God’s chosen king (see 2 Sam 7:1-17). Citing an ancient royal psalm, Jesus conveys that the Messiah is of divine origin and that he will bring a kingdom that transcends anything we might ordinarily imagine.
  8. Luke 20:45 Jesus reproaches the teachers of religious thought for their vanity (Lk 11:43), greed (Lk 16:14), and artificial and ostentatious piety (Lk 18:11-12).

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