Self-righteousness was probably the hardest sin which Jesus cannot forgive! Why? Because it never offers him the room to forgive. Are we slipping into this grave sin, in these last days?
In Luke 20:1-19, Jesus was in his last week of public ministry on earth but with a heavy burden about Jerusalem (previous chapter) while teaching in and around the temple, which possibly could have been the longest duration he spend there. Jesus avoided the centricity of Jerusalem during his ministry earlier- ‘the happening place’ of Jewish religion. It could have been due to vulnerable factors to jeopardize his ultimate mission: If it would happen earlier than supposed, his disciples may not be mentored enough to carry on. Worse but rare possibility of the other extreme was he could shoot up to enormous popularity there, to be enforced as a king for that desperately hope-seeking nation. Both would be a mistiming according to the Father’s plan.
Now knowing the Father’s will, he steps in to dare for the hardest part of his mission as Son of God in Son of Man. But the saddest part is his own people would be the pawns to his painful death. These could be lessons for us too- “Why?”
- The then chief priests and religious leaders could not recognize his identity (vs.2). They could not accept any other path to God except through their own established hierarchy and laws. But they faltered even there, because if they had bothered to keenly verify the lineage (which was customary for Jewish tradition) of Joseph, they could have traced it to the royal link of David.
- As a spiritual leader, do you go according to only what is seen or perceived by the known, OR do you bother to search for the unseen/hidden mysteries of God? (like Nicodemus did)
- How serious are you about your responsibility as a leader? If people look up to you for answers, do you chose- the right ones OR the feasible ones?
- Jesus countered their questioning him of authority with this note- “Have you investigated or studied about the recent spiritual reforms- were those from Heaven or Man-made?”
- Senates/Councils/Committee were all from ancient days prevalent to help discuss differences of opinions & ideologies to construct proper guidelines- but there again, they may go for the feasible answers rather than the right one (vs.5-7) ; they chose an answer that would save their own skins.
- When spiritual leadership loses the vision and voice of Father God, they will rather simply ride on popular views or safer views, jeopardizing the future of the dependent flock.
- Jesus had warned earlier (Lk.12:5) to not fear merely for the loss of seen perishable physical body, but to fear the safety of the unseen imperishable Spirit-body (so not to go to any extent to save your own skin).
- Humility of Jesus taken for granted- who could imagine the irony of mere designated man questioning the Son of God (in present day, the Holy Spirit) of His authority on earth?
- Self-righteous image too precious to be forsaken- Jesus still forgave their ignorance to question him and was willing to disclose the answer, if they were willing to repent of their mistakes. But how could they, before a poor ‘upcoming’ young teacher?
- Spiritual ignorance & stubbornness leading to self-centered spirituality- Even when they knew Jesus could not simply perform such miracles before their eyes; they could not discern the power behind it.
Jesus wanting to make it clearer tells of the parable of tenants in vs.9-18. Here are few extracts from the passage, with similitudes to learn from-
- ‘Owner of vineyard’: The Father God
- ‘rented to’: for temporary period
- ‘went away for a long time’: Father’s enduring mercy to wait
- ‘harvest time’: time to reap the fruits of labour
- ‘some of the fruit’: not even asking for the entire returns/profit
- ‘beat the servants and left them empty-handed’: denying the rightful share and humiliating the real authority
- ‘whom I love’: the Father’s begotten Son Yeshuva
- ‘perhaps’: an Omniscient God still hoped
- ‘Respect Him’: even if you deny his share (he does not ‘need’ it) of the produce, Respect is due.
- ‘talked over the matter’: deliberate plotting to usurp authority entirely.
But the last point could not be for the Jewish leaders, even though they would be greedy for power over people, they would never deny Yahweh their God of his due Authority. They were and still are too zealous in that matter. So who was it for? No doubt about it – the Fallen Angels & their hordes. They are the ones keen on denying the Sovereign authority of the Trinity God.
- The underlying reality in that is when God’s designated spiritual leaders drift away without vision and voice of God, they are unknowingly placing themselves to be used as pawns by the dark powers against God’s sovereign plans, even in these last days. (A very sad recent incident where a nearly centenarian aged Christian denomination leader in India, proclaimed his ‘divine worship time’ with a ‘god-woman’, as a biggest achievement in his life time, is a relevant example to this!)
- ‘…they threw him out and killed him’: Jesus’s crucifixion. The blinded stubborn leaders of god’s own people, led by the guidance of evil forces, kills The Anointed One of God all in the pretext of religious fervour citing law-violation of blasphemy. This is what the devil uses the laws of God for- to condemn and ostracize you from the Truth.
- ‘Owner will come’: the owner to pass the judgement.
- ‘Vineyard to others’: handed to the Gentiles.
- The 70 A.D. destruction of Jerusalem was the fulfillment of the previous two, when the biggest of their proud religious symbols – the institution of Temple- was destroyed, annihilating their ‘true worship’, after which Jews could not lay any exclusive claim for true worship anymore.
- “May this never be”: even the laymen did not wish to be foolish enough to be punished by God. (but sadly the leaders did not bother). Sometimes simple believers may be more concerned than a spiritual leader!
- “broken to pieces” v.18 – the Greek term used for broken is sunthlao’; its root word meaning- to fall upon for union or togetherness. “grind him to powder” used in the second instance is Greek word limao’ its root meaning ‘a winnowing fan’ as to blown away.
- When the Jews with pride of self-righteousness allowed the stone to fall upon them (Matt.27:25 / Luke 23:28-31) they were blown away as a nation (until 1948), making way for the Gentiles to have the chance to fall upon this Rock of Salvation, with brokenness of repentance of false worship and disobedience, to be mended by the Anointed One.
The most important take away from these lessons would be that even when some self-righteous spiritual leaders of earthly church may lose the vision, God will have a broken remnant ready to pick up from where the former falls. He is no respecter of person to give away His Sovereign plan of human redemption.
“…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades [Or hell] will not overcome it. [Or not prove stronger than it]” Matthew 16:18.
“Keep me O Lord away from the danger of self-righteous spirituality, but help me be broken enough to acknowledge my need of the Christ Lord through out my life on earth.”