Luke Series- Session 20- Luke 20:9-19

Session 20- Who is in charge here?

Luke 20:9-19

Subject: Authority

Central Theme: Recognizing Authority

Objective Statement: Every person must recognize God’s authority for three reasons.

Keyword: Reasons

Reason #1- God’s Authority is expressed in ownership.

Reason #2-Christ’s Authority is expressed in messiahship.

Reason #3- Our eternal fate is bound to recognizing Christ’s authority.


Lesson Resources:

Luke Series- Session 20- Luke 20 9-19




  • Understanding and responding to authority are among the most basic responses we must make in life.
  • This starts when we are children.
  • The Bible tells children to obey their parents in the Lord.
  • When kids do not learn to respond to the authority of their parents correctly it impacts them beyond the home.
  • During this time of our history questions of authority abound.
  • Let us just say out loud that the covid pandemic has made this more and more apparent.
  • Take for instance the case of Gracelife Church and Pastor James Coates in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
  • The church like many went to online only streaming during the pandemic.
  • As restrictions subsided, they came back to in person meeting.
  • They have not had one outbreak, or even a case in their church.
  • The authorities told them to stop meeting and the levels of attendance that they were meeting.
  • The pastor essentially said no.
  • They put him in a maximum-security jail for 35 days.
  • On April 7th Alberta Health Services ordered Grace life Church closed.
  • They put up fences around the church, tarp around the windows and doors and have essentially began to occupy that space.
  • An article on the Edmonton Journal online expressed what I think is the heart of the matter. In its article, that is somewhat critical of the church, it stated this under a heading called “Inerrant and Infallible”.

‘Inerrant and infallible’

GraceLife Church sits a few minutes west of Edmonton on a plot of land in Parkland County, across a field from a corn maze and down the road from an RV storage facility.

GraceLife, as the church has been known since 2012, was formally incorporated in November 2005 as Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Edmonton. The church’s chairman and founder, Paul Claassen, is a retired RCMP officer who worked as a sergeant in the Edmonton-based technological crimes section.

GraceLife is formally non-denominational and adheres to a literal interpretation of the Bible, which its roughly 400 congregants believe is “the authoritative, inerrant, infallible, and supremely sufficient Word of God.”

Unlike more mainline protestant denominations and some evangelical groups, GraceLife and its associated churches believe that the human authors of the Bible received direct, divine guidance, and that, through a “literal grammatical-historical” analysis, a believer can discern a passage’s “one true interpretation.” (Wakefield)

  • This article points out, correctly albeit critically, that the theology of this church has led to its decisions.
  • This theology is that if the Bible is the literal Word of God, then it carries God’s authority.
  • If God’s Word tells us to forsake not the assembling of ourselves together, as it does in Hebrews, then we must not forsake it.


  • These kinds of questions from people in power are nothing new.
  • Questions about God’s authority are not just something that pastors and churches must answer. These kinds of questions are questions that the individual must answer.
  • Every person will decide about what authority they will recognize and how they will respond.
  • Responding as God would have us to respond is something that was modeled by Jesus.
  • He did not back down.
  • This is the question that is central to our passage this morning in Luke 20.
  • Let us read what it says:

Luke 20:1-8

(1)  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,

(2)  And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?

(3)  And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me:

(4)  The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?

(5)  And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?

(6)  But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.

(7)  And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.

(8)  And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

  • Then Jesus goes on to give a parable that underscores who has authority.
  • If we are to respond correctly to authority in our lives, then we must understand this parable.

Every person must recognize God’s authority for three reasons.

Reason #1- God’s Authority is expressed in ownership.

(9) 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.  (10)  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.  (11)  And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.  (12)  And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out.

Luke 20:9-12



  • Verse 9 makes it clear that this is a parable, and like every parable there are characters.
  • The first character in the story was a landowner, here called “a certain man that planted a vineyard.” This is the language of a parable.  He planted a vineyard and leased it to some tenants.  He then left for an undetermined, unspecific, long amount of time.  He represents God in the story.
  • The next group of characters are the husbandmen. These were the people to which he delegated responsibility.  They would have owed him because of their lease.  It was not their land.  It was his.  This group represents religious leaders and others over the centuries who persecuted the prophets that God sent.
  • The next group of characters are the servants. These were those sent to the husbandmen by the landowner.  Their job was to collect what was owed.  The first servant was sent, and he was beaten by the husbandmen, and sent away without collecting the offering.  Another servant was sent, and they beat him, too. They treated him viciously, and he was not given what was owed.  The fact that Christ repeated what happened to the servants three times showed that this had happened often.  It was vicious and wrong.  In the story these servants represent prophets and judges that had been sent by God and were persecuted and even killed.


  • The prophets of God have given us several
  • We know the thoughts of God because holy men of old spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  (21)  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

2 Peter 1:20-21

  • Part of how we know that the Bible is true is the testimony of the prophets coming true.
  • These men believed that it was God that revealed their message to them, and we know that because they were willing to endure suffering and rejection for what they said. Jesus told his disciples that if they hated and persecute Jesus, they would hate and persecute them as well.

Matthew 5:10-12

(10)  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(11)  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

(12)  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

  • God used the prophets in the past to help us understand what He wanted us to know, and He used their suffering and persecution to substantiate that message.

Every person must recognize God’s authority for three reasons.

Reason #1- God’s Authority is expressed in ownership.

Reason #2- Christ’s Authority is found in messiahship.

Transition Sentence: So, several rounds of sending servants did not work.  Look what the Lord of the vineyard did next.

(13)  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.

Luke 20:13 


  • The landowner must decide.
  • All his representatives are being mistreated and he is not given what he has been owed. So, he sends the greatest representative he can.  “I’ll send my loved son”, he reasons.
  • The logic is that there should be a difference in thinking when the landowners beloved son shows up, compared to the hired representatives. The more beloved the messenger, the more respect should be given to the messenger and the message.
  • Remember that Jesus is crafting this story. In the story, this landowner is using the kind of thinking that those who are hearing the story would recognize as logical.
  • Since the landowner is representative of God the Father, we should understand that God knew what would happen to Jesus. He is not saying something about God’s planning process.  He is not saying that God did not know what would happen to Jesus.
  • What Jesus wants is for the scribes and pharisees to take a moment to think about what side of history they are on. They certainly would have admitted that there were prophets in the past that were persecuted and rejected.  But they would not have seen themselves as the kind of people that would have been persecuting God’s messengers.


  • Our thinking is often representative on a large scale by the culture in which we live. It is the air we breathe.  Everything in our lives is preaching a sermon.  Theology is everywhere.
  • We must make sure that our theology and worldview is shaped by the Bible and not by the culture.
  • These pharisees thought that they were God’s representative at the precise time that they were literally fighting God.


  • Take a moment to think about your worldview. Is it shaped by the culture, or your own desires, more than by the Word of God?

Transition Sentence:  So, the lord of the vineyard sends his son thinking that he will be more respected.  What happened?


(14)  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.  (15)  So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?  (16)  He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others.

Luke 20:14-16a


  • Look at the illogical reaction of the husbandmen. “This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.”  Do they not understand how wills and inheritance works?
  • If you kill my heir that pretty much ensures that you are not going to get into the will. Right?  If you killed one of my kids, by God’s grace I may get to where I can forgive you, but you still may not end up in my will.
  • Yet this was the exact thinking of the Pharisees. It’s as if they are thinking something like, “If Jesus is right, and He is God, then our interpretation of the scripture is flawed. We will be seen as those who have deceived the people.  We will not have the religious authority that we once had.  We will lose at every level.  We want God’s authority over the people without submitting to God’s message sent through God’s beloved Son.”
  • That kind of thinking lead to what they did. In the story they killed the son.
  • What was the landowner to do? Put them in the will?  Of course not.  He would give their stewardship to someone else.


  • So often we want God’s blessing without submitting to God’s authority. Think about what the Bible says in James.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
James 1:17.

  • God has given us everything we have, and yet we do not always acknowledge Him as that source of everything that is good.
  • In fact, Romans says that the pattern of Christianity is to not acknowledge the Creator in worship, but to rather give credit and worship to the created thing in idolatry.  Paul put it this way in Romans.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:  (21)  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  (22)  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,  (23)  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Romans 1:20-23

  • These husbandmen wanted the benefits of the vineyard without recognizing the ownership and authority of the Lord of the Vineyard. Are we any different?
  • God gave us His Son, and the Bible says that He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Him.  We must not reject the Son!  We must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved!


  • How are you putting creation ahead of the Creator in your life today?


Every person must recognize God’s authority for three reasons.

Reason #1- God’s Authority is expressed in ownership.

Reason #2-Christ’s Authority is expressed in messiahship.

Reason #3- Our eternal fate is bound to recognizing Christ’s authority.

Transition Sentence:  The pharisees seem to be understanding the point of the story, and they do not like it.  Look at their response:

And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.  (17)  And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?  (18)  Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

Luke 20:16b-18 


  • The pharisees heard this story and their reaction to it is very interesting. They essentially say, “May this never come to pass.”  “God forbid.”
  • Jesus is telling the story exactly because that is exactly what is going to come to pass. It is the story of what has happened with God’s prophets, and now is happening with God’s Son.
  • In response Jesus quotes an Old Testament passage to them. It is taken from Psalm 118:22.

(22)  The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.  Psalms 118:22

  • Jesus is telling the pharisees that the thing they hope will never happen is happening.
  • He is telling them that not only are they the husbandman that is going against the landowner, persecuting the messengers, and killing the Son, they are also prophesied in the Psalms.
  • It’s as if he is saying, “Bad news guys. You are in the Bible for making the ultimate mistake.  You are the ones who will not have the discernment to be able to tell between a worthless stone and the key to the whole foundation.  You will be the ones prophesied that would reject the Messiah when he comes.”
  • Notice Jesus pronounced judgment towards them for rejecting the Messiah in verse 18.

(18)  Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

  • There are several Old Testament references of the Messiah being compared to a rock.
  • The idea here is that those who reject the messiah, those who oppose the Messiah, and those who are apathetic to the Messiah will all suffer the same fate. They will be judged.


  • What is at stake when we reject Jesus as Messiah, Savior, and Lord? Literally our eternity!
  • God has been merciful. God has been patient.  He has revealed Himself through nature, through His Word, through His prophets, and through His Son.  The book of Hebrews puts it this way:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  (2)  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;  (3)  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Hebrews 1:1-3

  • God has given Jesus a name that is above every name.
  • It is up to us to bow before Him now and accept Him as Savior for the forgiveness of sins. That is our only hope!  It is also up to us to tell the world about Him so that they can repent and believe!

Transition Sentence:  So, do the religious leaders respond in humility?  Do they take Jesus’ parable seriously and change their ways?

 (19)  And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.

Luke 20:19



  • There is so much irony in this verse. They were mad at Jesus because of what he had told them in the story.  The motivation for their anger is right there in the verse.
  • Why were they angry? “For they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.”
  • What did they want to do? They wanted to “lay hands on him.”
  • What was the parable about? It was about God sending His Son and there being a group of people that stewarded what He owned wanting to kill His Son.  They were mad that they were the brunt of the parable, and so they were motivated to do what the parable said they would do.
  • Who should they have been afraid of if the parable was true?
  • They should have been afraid of the “rock that the builders rejected” that would grind them to powder, and on whom they would “fall upon” and “be broken”.
  • Instead, who did they fear? “They feared the people.”


  • These men are examples of people who have a ton of knowledge but no wisdom.
  • They could quote more scripture by quantity than probably any one person at my church. They could argue about the fine tenants of theology, rabbinic tradition, and history, and yet they did not have sense enough to fear God more than men.
  • What does the book of Proverbs say about the fear of the Lord?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7

  • These men are examples of people that wanted to gain the world, and in the process would lose their soul. They wanted to hang on to power and influence by rejecting God.
  • Their decision ought to be a warning to us. Do not reject the Son!  Believe in Jesus today for your salvation, and for your sanctification!


Every person must recognize God’s authority for three reasons.

Reason #1- God’s Authority is expressed in ownership.

Reason #2-Christ’s Authority is expressed in messiahship.

Reason #3- Our eternal fate is bound to recognizing Christ’s authority.


Works Cited

Wakefield, Jonny. GraceLife: How an Edmonton-area church became the centre of Alberta’s COVID-19 fight. 14 April 2021. Website. April 15 2021 2021. <>.

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