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Bible Commentaries
Luke 20

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-47

XX-XXI The Last Teachings of Jesus —The hour of sacrifice drawing near, it is fitting that the whole life of Jesus should now be turned towards the place of sacrifice, the temple. ’Miracles are now done with. All his teaching indicates the clear view he has of what is to come, the fate awaiting him, the punishment about to fall upon the Temple and the people. He manifests a personality far higher than that of the Jewish conception of the Messias, Son of David. The impression is given that he is in command of the shape of events; death is his own free choice. But he prepares his disciples to carry on his work after he has gone’ ( Lagr., S. Luc505).

XX 1-8 Question of Jesus’ Authority —(Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33). Close following of Mk here. Our Lord perseveres in ’announcing the good tidings’; the desire of Jesus to seek the people’s good up to the last moment contrasts with the opposite attitude of his opponents towards him.

2. The reason of the inquiry made by the representatives of the Sanhedrin need not be his cleansing of the temple; indeed many of the Pharisees would have sympathized with that in principle, since it was their Sadduccan opponents who were responsible for the abuses. As all three Synoptists agree, their chief fear was our Lord’s growing popularity. They had not forgotten John the Baptist’s ascendancy over the people; cf. 6b. Their efforts are therefore concentrated on the attempt to ruin the reputation of Jesus with the crowd by taxing him with embarrassing questions; there follow several such questions. In this instance he completely disconcerts them by associating himself with the popular enthusiasm for John. If they, the self-constituted guides of Israel, are not able to make up their minds about such a person as John, then he denies their right to ask for the source of his authority.

9-19 Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen —(Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12). As in Mk save for literary changes and the addition of the threat in 18. Lk omits the details concerning the preparation of the vineyard but adds the interjection of 16b ’God forbid!’ lit. ’May it not be!’. Such a detail would appeal to him since it is called forth by the suggestion of 16a that God will choose for himself another people who will prove more faithful than the Chosen Race. The whole parable is so pointed in its allegorical significance, ’a parable of Jewish history’, that liberal critics deny its authenticity; they maintain that our Lord always used pure parables and that allegorical touches are due to additions made in the light of later events. In the parable (the application of which no one could fail to see) the servants were evidently those whom God had sent to his people: God’s last hope comes in the person of his beloved Son, clearly his only Son. The killing of that Son is the final crime, and after the last crime comes punishment. Here Jesus claims that he possesses the title of Son of God in a unique sense, thus providing his enemies with just the pretext they wanted for destroying him.

20-26 Question of the Tribute —(Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17). The Jewish leaders are under no misapprehension about the meaning of the parable, 19, but they find it necessary to go warily for fear of the crowd; hence they set spies to find some pretext for handing Jesus over to the Roman authorities (Lk alone). Lk omits to specify the emissaries (Pharisees and Herodians in Mk and Mt) but identifies them sufficiently by the phrase ’who feign themselves just’ (20, cf. 16:15; 18:9). Using subterfuge themselves, they appeal to his well-known straightforwardness and fearless speaking of the truth. It was known to all that neither Pharisees nor Herodians offered opposition to Roman domination: the latter because they depended on it, the former having even asked for incorporation into the empire on the death of Herod the Great ( Jos. Ant. 17, 11, 2). But it should be recalled that twenty years before this very question of tribute to Caesar had caused a rebellion which the Romans had put down severely, crucifying 2,000 Jews ( Ant. 17 10, 10). Hence Jesus’ answer might have grave consequences with the crowd or with the police. 26. Lk points out that the opponents are completely disconcerted again; there is nothing in his answer they can seize on to discredit Jesus either with the Roman authorities or with the people.

27-40 Question about the Resurrection of the Dead — (Matthew 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27). The third question, curiously enough, is one about which Pharisees and Sadducees were at loggerheads (cf.Acts 23:8; Ant. 17, 1, 4; Lagr., GJC 11142 ff.). Perhaps the explanation is found in the satisfaction of the Sadducees at Jesus’ answer to the previous question, for they gave unequivocal support to Rome. Lk runs in accord with Mk and Mt while insisting more emphatically on the theological character of the question.

34-36. Note the Lucan additions ’children of this world children of God’, ’children of the resurrection’; cf. 16:8. These are Hebraistic idioms signifying those who have the characteristics of mortal or immortal life.

37. The Sadducees are disappointed by the answer while their opponents are gratified,

39. A further interesting addition of Lk is 38b, ’for all live to him (God)’, a Pauline expression; cf.Romans 6:10; Galatians 2:19.

41-44 Question of the Davidie Sonship of the Messlas —(Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37). Though Lk agrees with Mk in recording the gratification of the Scribes, he omits the question of one of them now given by Mk which fits in well with the narrative; but he has already narrated this or a similar incident in 10:25-28. Here he confines himself to the captious questions of the adversaries, so that all may be ’in order’. On this occasion it is Jesus who takes the initiative, perhaps to turn the tables on them. They are seeking to discredit him with the crowd. Having put them shame with the crowd by making them confess that they can give no satisfactory answer about. John the Baptist, he now puts them in a much more serious difficulty by asking them about the Messias’s Davidic origin. Whatever disagreements there were about the Messias’s character, all agreed that he was to be the Son of David. Thus, as Lk has said in 40, he closes their mouths even in the matter of their boasted ability to interpret the Scriptures. At the same time he provides positive teaching about himself; for if David himself in the Psalms, of which he was the accredited author (cf.Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36), shows the Messias seated at God’s riggt hand, then it follows that the Messias ranks higher than all the servants of God and is consequently much more than a mere Son of David. Who but the Son of God would be invited to sit at God’s right hand? It is at the conclusion of this incident that Mt has placed the remark that from this time no one dared to pose any more questions, much better here than where Lk has put it in 40.

45-47 Warning against the Scribes —(Matthew 23:1-36; Mark 12:37b-40). The attack is carried further into the enemy’s camp. Note how Mk concludes the last incident by reminding us of the pleasure of the crowd at Jesus’ words, and it seems to be the crowd that he warns against the Scribes; in Lk the warning is reserved for the disciples. Mt expands the theme, including much of what Lk has already said in 11:37-54. Here Lk agrees closely with Mk; both conclude with the formidable words of 47b.

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on Luke 20". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/luke-20.html. 1951.
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