“As Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, ‘Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.’ He answered, ‘I also will ask you a question. Tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?’ And they discussed it with one another, saying, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he will say, “Why did you not believe him?” But if we say, “From man,” all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.’ So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things...’
“‘A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.” But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, “This is the heir. Let us kill him, so the inheritance may be ours.” And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.’ When they heard this, they said, ‘Surely not!’
“[They] sought to lay hands on him, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said… They asked him, ‘Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?’ But he perceived their craftiness.” Luke 20:1-16,19-23a
When the Pharisees edged close to being exposed, they hastened to cover up. They preferred to keep the pressure on Jesus, this strange purveyor of authority, but grew increasingly uneasy in the effort. He seemed to know them inside out, and that’s not comfortable, so they pressed and plotted, to no avail.
They were masters at finagling answers, figuring on social acceptance, and feigning sincerity, all methods of avoiding the truth that Jesus taught, that Jesus was. They went to great lengths to deflect having to dig deep, relinquish control, and be exposed as frauds.
How are we like the Pharisees? And what keeps us from accepting truth? Is the reality of believing Jesus really more terrifying than living, and dying, without Him? He came to remove all we abhor and to redeem all of which we are ashamed- past transgressions, inner rage, heinous thoughts, greed, lust, envy. If in faith we open our hearts to the loving Savior, He frees us of the exhausting effort of refusing Him, and fill us with new and joyous life. (John 10:10; 1 Corinthians 5:17)
Lord, may I go to every length to know, love, and honor You.