Our Rabbi: Confident, Savvy, and Assertive

26 They were not able to catch Him in what He said in public, and being amazed at His answer, they became silent.  (HCSB)Today’s full text: Luke 20:1-26

How did Jesus respond when the religious leaders of his day questioned his authority to do the work His father had sent him to do? For context, one of the reasons they doubted his credentials as a Rabbi is because he had never been a disciple for anyone, so he’d rebelled against the status quo, no human had taught him to be just like them and commissioned him as a rabbi to teach others to be just like his own rabbi. So he didn’t meet the education requirements to preach the gospel and had no human certifications saying he was a licensed minister commissioned and under the authority of a particular rabbinical school of thought.

First, he didn’t become offended. He didn’t doubt himself and his ability and qualifications because the experts of the day doubted in him. He remembered what his Father had said about him, that he was the Son of God, and called not to teach disciples to be like a human rabbi, but to be like his Father. He also knew if he pulled out his credentials for the religious leaders, they would refuse to believe, accuse him of blasphemy, and kill him.

Since it wasn’t time yet, he refused not only to doubt in himself, but to prove himself to men, turning the tables on them, asking whether John was commissioned to baptize people by men or by God. The religious leaders were trapped–answering from God would be a winning point to the Lord in the debate, but the crowd would riot if they denied John’s authority, too. The leaders refused to answer, so they got no answer, but the crowd got one right there. Jesus addresses the issue in a parable about tenant farmers who kill the heir to the land hoping to keep what belongs to him for themselves, thus warning them without saying an arrestable word that the religious leaders of the day would be destroyed if they continued on the road to crucifying the Lord.

The leaders were smart enough to get the message and were furious, but he’d made his point to the huge crowd,  making the leaders also afraid to oppose him directly–so they turned to spies pretending to be on the Lord’s side and tried to trap him with their famous question about paying taxes and the Lord again saw through their deception and refused to be trapped into either speaking against paying taxes to Caesar and committing treason, or speaking in favor of Caesar and offending the crowd. So he gave his famous answer, that affirmed giving Caesar his coins per the letter of the law directly while stating indirectly that mankind should give ourselves, our whole lives and bodies, to God, as we bare the image of God and everything we have comes from him and is truly His.

If we disciples want to be more like our Rabbi, we should be more confident of our calling, not swayed by the voices and opinions of man, but aware of them and savvy in our responses, testifying to the truth, but being aware of the climate and what the people accept and reject and what is around us and using that in our Lord’s favor while seeking to avoid needless offenses that would get us arrested and harmed before it is His time. This passage also indicates there is a season to follow the legal/certification processes of the day and a time to reject them and confidently go out and do what our Father has told us to.

Lord, give us your wisdom and discernment! Help us to use what is available in the culture today to your glory and to advance your Kingdom in ways that uphold the truth. Give us confidence of your calling and open our ears to hear what the season is regarding following laws and the ignoring the “normal” established processes traditionally followed in our calling.