Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 20:41-21:4 – Authentic Faith

Grace For The Journey

We are looking today at the final verses of Luke chapter 20 and the first four verses of chapter 21.  We will begin our study today at verse 41.  Remember the original Greek manuscripts do not have chapters, divisions, and verse numbers so we are going to roll right into the first four verses of chapter 21 as this seems to be the next logical break.

Jesus has been asked a couple of hostile questions.  Now it is His turn to do the questioning.  As you read this passage, listen for what Jesus teaches about authentic Christian faith.

I do not usually watch “Antiques Roadshow.”  One Sunday afternoon, during halftime of an NFL football game, I watched a segment of an episode where there was this lady who had this necklace of gold, diamonds, and turquoise.  She said she bought it 25 years ago as a gift to herself.  The guy she bought it from gave her a paper certifying that it was made in 1905 and that it contained authentic Turkish turquoise.  When asked what she paid for it 25 years ago she said she paid $20,000.

Now when I heard that, I just kind of had that feeling, you know.  Like, $20,000?!  The appraiser tells her, “Well, I have good news for you and I have bad news for you.”  That is not something you want to hear at the Antiques Roadshow!  The appraiser goes on a bit trying to cushion the blow by telling her how wonderful the necklace looks – which is the good news; and you know he is soften what he will say next, and you can see the woman bracing for the bad news.  Finally, the appraiser says, “It is not quite as old as you were led to believe.”  The appraiser tells the woman the necklace was made in the 60s and says a few more things before saying, “I would give it a current auction estimate in the neighborhood of $8,000 to $12,000.” The woman’s eyes bulge out like, “What?!”  The appraiser says, this “is somewhat less than you paid for it,” and the woman responds, “Significantly less!”  This poor woman had paid $20,000 for something 25 years ago that is today only worth $8000 to maybe $12,000.  She had been led to believe that she had this authentic piece of jewelry with Turkish turquoise, but she had something that was not authentic at all – looked like the real deal but was inauthentic.

It is always disappointing when what you think is real turns out to be false.  Everything looked so convincing, but those who are “in the know” expose the flaws and the inconsistencies.  We certainly would not think of Jesus as an appraiser nor would we think of the religious leaders of His day as people of some kind of intrinsic worth whose value was to be appraised.  But if we were looking for an example of those who present themselves as a people who seemed to be authentic but are not, then we have a found such a people in the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.  Jesus exposes their utter hypocrisy by revealing to others who they really were.  In this exchange between Jesus and the religious leaders we learn a few things about what authentic faith should look like.

Let me pose this as a general question to guide our teaching this morning . . . 

What does authentic faith look like?

Our text suggests three marks of authentic Christian faith.  First, to possess authentic faith:

I.  We Understand Christ’s Identity – Verses 41-44.

More important than any question we will ever answer is the question, “Who is Jesus Christ” and then the accompanying follow-up question, “And what now will you do with Jesus?”  Who is Jesus Christ and what will you do with Him?  These are questions we must visit again and again as families who are interested in growing and being discipled.  Dads, moms, ask these questions today of your family. 

Verse 41 tells us, “And He said to them, ‘How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David?’”  Jesus is talking about the coming Messiah.  Remember that the word “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name!  It is the Greek word for Messiah.  The Jews were looking forward to a coming Messiah or Savior.  In this question in verse 41 Jesus is building on the common, general view that the coming Messiah and Savior would be David’s son, that is, a descendant of David.  This was the accepted conventional wisdom and there, of course, was biblical support for this.  But Jesus asks, “How can that be?  How can the Christ be the Son of David?” and His point is to stress the identity of Christ.  Jesus says in verses 42 through 44, “Now David himself said in the Book of Psalms: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’  Therefore David calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”

Jesus’ point is to teach and stress the identity of Christ.  Jesus quotes from one of the psalms that David wrote.  David was, of course, was the second king of Israel.  His descendants reigned on the throne of Judah until 587 BC when Jerusalem fell to Babylon.  David wrote over seventy of the Psalms, including this psalm from which Jesus is quoting, Psalm 110, a psalm about the Messiah.  Psalm 110 opens in verse 1 with, “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” 

So, Jesus is asking, “What in the world is David talking about here? I mean he wrote this psalm a thousand years earlier and he says, “The LORD said to my Lord sit at my right hand.”  By the way, the “right hand” is the place of honor.  David is writing about the “LORD.”  Notice the word is in all caps.  When you see this word in all caps it is a reference to YHWH, the One True God of the Bible.  In the Old Testament the covenant name for God is YHWH.  What is God saying?  He says to David’s Lord – (Lower case letters here signify a particular person to be esteemed worthy of respect).  It was not unusual, for example, in Bible days for a son to address his father as Lord.  David is referring to someone higher than himself.  David writes, “The LORD said to my Lord” and Jesus is like, “To whom is David speaking?”

The answer is implied: David is speaking of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ who, while a descendant of David is also David’s Lord.  This indicates that David’s future offspring has more authority than David.  And this statement about “sitting at the right hand” is a way of saying that this Messiah will share YHWH’s rule and reign.  Remember that angel Gabriel had said to Mary in the opening chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Luke 1:32-33, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”  What is Gabriel’s point? 

Jesus Christ IS the Son of David,

But He is much, much more. 

He is also David’s Lord.

Who is Jesus for you?  How do you identify Him?  To have authentic faith we must understand Christ’s identity.  Is Jesus identified by you as merely a good man, a good teacher?  This is how many in Jesus’ day identified Him.  Many of the religious leaders identified Jesus as merely a teacher.  Who is the Christ?  Is He God-in-the-flesh, the Messiah, Savior, Son of David, SON OF GOD who is CO-EQUAL and CO-REIGNS with God the Father in heaven?  That is how the Bible identifies Jesus.  He is God-in-the flesh who came to us to die for our sins, was buried for our transgressions, and raised the third day that we may be justified – declared righteous.  You cannot be a Christian without believing this.  You must properly “ID” Christ.  And by the way, no other spiritual question you may ask really matters until you answer this question first.

Authentic faith means we understand Christ’s identity.  Secondly, authentic faith means:

II. We Avoid Ungodly Hypocrisy – Verses 45-47.

These religious leaders of Jesus’ day really wanted to look good in the eyes of others.  They always seemed to focus on the external rather than the internal.  Jesus warns His disciples about them.  Verse 45 says, “Then, in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, ‘Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts.”  The word is “ostentatious.”  These guys loved to be seen by others.  They were like clowns in a parade.  They loved it when people watched them parade by.  They loved the long greetings folks gave them: “Why hello, most holy, reverend, highest, most-blessed, Father so-and-so

Jesus continues to describe their hypocrisy in verse 47, “Who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”  This last phrase is a reminder that we all will face a judgement, described here by Jesus with the word “condemnation.”  There is a judgment and there are degrees of judgment.  That Jesus says some will receive a “greater” condemnation means that others will receive a “lesser” one, but all will be judged.  Just as there are degrees of glory and reward in heaven, so are there degrees of loss of reward and condemnation in hell. 

Jesus says in verse 47 that these hypocritical teachers were “devouring widows houses” which probably means that they were cheating widows of their estates while they served as executors of their properties.  Unbelievable, isn’t it?!

In verse 47 Jesus says they also, “for a pretense make long prayers.”  It is not the long prayers that are the problem, it is the “pretense” of the long prayers.  The idea is that, for a show make lengthy prayers.  These guys were all about appearance and perception.  They looked really religious and devout, and they sounded really religious and devout.  Too many, they looked and sounded like the real thing.  But Jesus “appraises” their religiosity here and exposes their utter hypocrisy.  He had done this before.  He had laid bare their hypocritical hearts more than once before in Luke 16:15, “You (Pharisees) are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.  For what is highly esteemed among men is and abomination in the sight of God.”  Men may look at you and say, “Wow, what a spiritual giant!”  But God knows your heart.  Sit is not how you look on the outside or even how you sound on the outside.  It is who you are on the inside.

Why is Jesus saying this here in verses 46-47?  Does He wish to just slam these scribes?  No, He mentions this as a warning.  Who is Jesus warning here?  Verse 45 tells us – the disciples.   

Authentic faith means we understand Christ’s identity . . . Authentic faith means we avoid ungodly hypocrisy and, final . . . 

III.  We Are Known For Great Generosity – 21:1-4.

Verse one says, “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury.”  Remember Jesus and the disciples are there at the temple.  Jesus is watching folks put their money into the temple treasury.  There were 13 collection chests or boxes in the Jewish temple.  These chests had trumpet-like openings.  Seven of the chests were for the temple tax and the remaining six were for freewill offerings.  Jesus is watching folks put their money in the chests.  The money made noises as they clanged down through the openings of the chests and often you could tell the greatness of the size of the gift by the greatness of the sound it made.  Everyone knew approximately who was giving what.  They did not write secret checks, nor was there a website where they could click to “give online.”  They gave publicly and everyone heard the size of your gift. 

Verse 2 tells us, “And He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.”  This coin was the lepton; the plural is lepta.  The lepton was the smallest coin used among the Jews in Jesus’ day.  The word “lepton” means “small or thin.”  The lepton was an extremely thin bronze or copper coin worth next to nothing, worth a very small fraction of a denarius.  We have learned about the denarius before in Luke’s Gospel as recently as verses 20-26 where Jesus calls for a denarius and asks whose image is on it and so forth.  A denarius represented about one day’s wages.  A lepton was worth about 1/128th of a denarius.

Jesus is watching as this poor widow puts into the temple treasure two small coins worth practically nothing.  He says in verse 3, “. . . Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all.”  We are like, “What?!  How can Jesus say that?!   Clearly this woman put in less than everyone else!”  But remember?  Jesus says, “It is not what everyone sees on the outside, it is what is going on on the inside.”  Just as Jesus could see and expose the heart of the hypocritical religious leaders so Jesus can see and expose the heart of this poor godly widow.  Jesus goes on in verse 4 and tells us what He means, “For all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

What do authentic Christians do?  They give sacrificially.  They give selflessly.  They give from the heart, a heart that loves and beats hard for Jesus Christ, the Lover of their souls.  It is not the amount this woman gave that is important.  It is highly unlikely anyone could even have heard the two coins as she dropped them into the chest.   These were paper thin coins worth basically nothing.  She dropped them into the chest and they did not clang, they floated and whispered.  It is not the amount.  It is the fact that she gave sacrificially, selflessly, from her heart, great generosity.

The main point appears to be that

God measures the gifts of his people

Not on the basis of their size but on

The basis of how much remains.

We must never forget that God owns everything.  He owns all of our stuff, all of our possessions, and all of our money.  He owns it all.  Lordship means we recognize and agree that He is Lord of everything.

When it comes to Christian stewardship and giving, our common statements are, unfortunately, not always helpful.   Someone says, “Tithing means you give God 10% and you get to keep 90%.”  So, the thought is 10% is His and 90% is yours.  But that is not what the Bible teaches – It actually teaches that 100% is God’s.  If we recognize this truth, then tithing – the biblical practice of returning to God from the top, the firstfruits – for the Christian is merely a place to begin in Christian giving.  You begin with returning 10% and then you grow to give more and more.

This woman did something very impractical: she sis not gave 10%, but 100%.  Everyone is bracing for, “Now you go and do likewise.”  Is that the point here?  Is that what we’re to do?  No, the principle is . . .

God measures the gifts of His people

Not on the basis of their size but

On the basis of how much remains.

Do you give sacrificially?  Are you known as a person of great generosity because nothing excites your heart more than Jesus?

What are you doing with your money?  Does it own you, possess you?  Are you always concerned about giving too much or not having enough?  It may be that money is your god and you do not even realize it.  It has got you in bondage.  Money can be your god whether you are rich or poor.

Authentic faith means we understand Christ’s identity, we avoid ungodly hypocrisy, and we are known for great generosity.  No other question matters more than what you think of Jesus and what you will do with that information.

This Is God Word’s

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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