Luke 20 – Jesus Confounds His Opponents

Luke 20 – Jesus Confounds His Opponents

Luke 20: Jesus Confronts His Opponents

July 17, 2022

(1) Would you agree that it’s pretty much impossible not to notice the intense division in the world around us today?

Much of the conflict lately seems to revolve around recent Supreme Court decisions

Particularly the overturning of Roe vs. Wade,

But underneath all the rancor and the politicians jockeying for power.

there are deeper issues than simple disagreements about what public policy solution is best.

At the root of the divisions lie moral issues. 

There’s a huge disagreement regarding what is right and what is wrong.

Is it right or wrong to destroy an unborn baby in its mother’s womb? 

Does a woman have a right to an abortion

and is it wrong to take that away from her?

Is it right or wrong to sanction homosexual unions in marriage?

Is it right or wrong for biological males,

who identify as female,

to have access to women’s bathrooms?

In the midst of these cultural divisions, those of us who read the Bible and believe that it’s God’s Word to us,

begin to feel increasingly on the outside of mainstream thinking.

We are confronted with radically different viewpoints from a culture

that seems to be increasingly at war with God and His ways.

But it’s helpful to remember that modern culture is not unique.

Throughout history, humans have always been at war with God and His ways.

It’s true now and it was true in Jesus’ day.

Jesus regularly confronted cultural ideas and practices that were in opposition to God.

And He had to deal with many powerful and vocal enemies.

Today, as we look at Luke chapter 20,

we have the opportunity to look at some of the interaction that Jesus had with His opponents and how He dealt with them.

It’s my hope that we can learn from His amazing wisdom and His courage,

and learn how we can better interact with those today who are at war with God and His ways.

My name is Dave Bovenmyer and I’m one of Stonebrook’s pastors.

My wife and I just returned from an 8 week sabbatical.

We took an amazing trip out West to see the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, the Garden of the Gods and other amazing sites, as well as to visit old friends. 

I’ll likely give a report at our next member’s meeting.

But today I wanted to say, “Thank you for giving us this refreshing break.” 

Stonebrook gives its pastors a week of sabbatical time for every year of service,

which is much appreciated

and, I believe, well used by us pastors.

Those of you who know me may have noticed that I’ve not done as much preaching lately,

as I am now partially retired

and concentrating on soul care ministry

and small group coaching.

So, let’s turn to Luke 20, which is page ???  in Stonebrook’s bible.

But before we dive in to Luke 20, I’d like to set the stage a bit

so that we can get a feel for the intensity of the conflict that we’ll read about.

The Jewish Passover feast was at hand,

a feast that drew tens of thousands of pilgrims to Jerusalem.

During Passover, Jerusalem swelled to many times its normal population.

And as these pilgrims entered Jerusalem on the Passover,

they would sing what has been called the Egyptian Hallel Psalms,

Psalm 113-118

And Psalm 118, the last of the festival psalms, seems to be written for two groups of worshipers.

One group would accompany Israel’s King as he entered the East gate of Jerusalem

and made his way to the temple.

And the other group would greet the King when He arrived.

Let’s look at a couple portions of this psalm.

(2) Verse, 19—Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. (Psalm 118:19–20, NIV84)

This was likely sung by the group accompanying the king.

Then down to verse 25

(3) O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. (Psalm 118:25, NIV84)

Now in Hebrew, the word for “O Lord save us” is the word “Hosanna!”

Then the next verse:

(4) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. (Psalm 118:26, NIV84)

This was likely sung by the second group,

greeting the king as he approached the temple

Then verse 27

(5) The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. (Psalm 118:27, NIV84)

Here the procession is described,

moving to the temple,

the people holding boughs (branches) in hand.

Does this remind you of anything?

It’s what happened with what’s called the triumphal entry that we read about last week

—Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey

while the multitudes shouted “Hosanna”

and waved palm branches.

Let’s read it again in Luke 19:37

(6) As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:37–38, ESV)

They are declaring Jesus to be the King of Israel!

Now, Israel had not had a king for over 600 years

and the ritual depicted in this Psalm had not been acted out in all that time.

But now, for the first time in many centuries, the people are declaring,

“We have a king!” 

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Having seen all the miracles that Jesus had done,

they were announcing Him as the Messiah/King

the one foretold by the prophets

who would defeat Israel’s enemies

and restore the nation to its place of former greatness

—bringing peace and God’s rule

not only to Israel, but to the whole world.

This bold declaration was not lost on the Jewish leaders.

(7)“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” (Luke 19:39, ESV)

They are saying: “Don’t you notice that they are proclaiming you to be Israel’s king?”

What was Jesus’ answer?

(8)“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:40, ESV)

Jesus absolutely and positively affirms their declaration.

He agrees with the crowd,

“Yes, I am Israel’s king.”

Yes, I am the Messiah!

This must have been exhilarating for Jesus. 

He had kept His identity under wraps for so long,

largely staying away from the places of power,

building a following in the mostly rural areas of Galilee

But at last it’s time to go public, to assert His claim to the kingdom.

So, in keeping with the psalm,

He goes right into the temple courts.

And what does He do? 

He cleans them out.

He overturns the tables of the money changers

(something I bet he’d been itching to do for a long time)

And He drives out the merchants selling animals for sacrifice.

That’s pretty bold

And then He sets up shop

—every day teaching the multitude from early morning until dusk.

Jesus moves in, clears out the area, and takes over.

With the power of the crowd behind Him,

He sets up His own autonomous zone.

The stage was set for a life or death confrontation with the authorities—

a confrontation that would, within a week, lead to Jesus’ death.

So in chapter 20 we see some of the fireworks.

The next morning—here come the authorities.

(9)One day, 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.” (Luke 20:1–2, ESV)

This would be like the Mayor, City Counsel, City attorney, and Chief of Police showing up.

They ask: “Who gave you permission to do this,

to drive out the merchants and start teaching like this?

Well, the truth is that Jesus hadn’t gotten anyone’s permission.

He just took over.

Now these Jewish leaders had already had an abundance of evidence

to know that Jesus was from God

and received His authority from God.

They had either personally witnessed or heard reliable eyewitness testimony

that He was healing the sick,

giving sight to the blind,

making the lamb walk,

and even raising people from the dead.

These are things that only God can do.

Other passages tell us that they understood that what Jesus was doing was supernatural

—but attributed his miracles to the devil rather than to God.

All because He healed on the Sabbath

and didn’t follow their extra biblical traditions.

You see, He didn’t fit into their rigid theological box.

But even more than that, He challenged their position of leadership.

So, their very question,

“Who gave you this authority,”

demonstrates an incredible hardness of heart.

Yet their challenge was public

and the crowd was listening,

so Jesus needed to give them an answer.

So he employed a brilliant defense by asking them a question.

(10)Verse 3: He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now 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.” (Luke 20:3–8, ESV)

You see, everyone with an honest, seeking heart

knew that John the Baptist was from God.

And they had repented and been baptized

But the leaders hadn’t believed John,

didn’t repent,

and didn’t get baptized.

So, it was clear to all that they didn’t believe that John’s ministry was from God.

But, of course, they couldn’t say this

in light of the very real possibility

that the crowd would stone them to death.

So, they said, “We don’t know.” —

So, since they refused to answer His question,

Jesus refused to answer their question

So, Jesus won round one.

By confronting them with John the Baptist’s ministry,

He indirectly defended His authority.

If John’s ministry was from God,

so was His,

since John had testified of Jesus.

And He exposed His opponent’s hardness of heart

for not listening to John and repenting.

But Jesus doesn’t stop His challenge there. 

He drives the dagger in and then twists it

with a powerful and shocking parable.

(11)Vs. 9 And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. (Luke 20:9, ESV)

Now Jesus’ audience,

and particularly the leaders,

were very familiar with the Hebrew Bible.

And their minds would have immediately gone to Isaiah 5,

where Isaiah told a very similar parable. 

Isaiah depicted God as planting a vineyard,

cultivating it

and preparing for a harvest.

But instead of good grapes, it yielded wild, worthless grapes.

Then Isaiah interpreted

(12)For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! (Isaiah 5:7, ESV)

So, as Jesus launched into His parable, the listeners would have understand

that the vineyard owner represented God

and that that the tenants represented Israel and its leaders.

(13)Vs. 10 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. And 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. (Luke 20:10–12, ESV)

Having read their Bibles, the audience was also aware

that over the centuries,

Israel had over and over again rejected and persecuted the prophets that God had sent

They knew that Elijah was exiled to the desert for years,

Jeremiah was thrown into a cistern

and, according to tradition,

Isaiah was sawn in two.

But then Jesus begins to talk about the beloved son. 

(14)Vs. 13: 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 that the inheritance may be ours.’

You see, in those days,

if a property owner died without leaving an heir,

whoever is farming the land would have a claim to become owners of the land.

So the tenants evidently thought the property owner had died

and his son had come to collect his inheritance.

And that if they killed him the vineyard would be theirs.

Who would Jesus’ audience have understood the son to be?

Surely, none other than the Messiah/King,

who was often called the Son of God by the prophets.

(15)Vs. 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him

We are so familiar with the idea that the Son of God had to come and die for the sins of the world.

But to these people this was stunning/shocking/unfathomable.

No one in that day thought that the Messiah would be rejected by Israel and killed.

Jesus’ opponents had no conception of it. 

Even His own disciples didn’t grasp it

despite His efforts to explain it to them.

It was absolutely stunning to them to think that Israel’s long-awaited Messiah would come

and that they would kill Him.

But Jesus goes on

(16)Vs. 15: What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

Here is second a stunning/shocking/ unfathomable thing

No one thought that God would take the stewardship of the kingdom of God

away from Israel and its leaders and give it to others.

That too was utterly unthinkable.

So they protested

(17)Vs. 16: When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!”

That’s crazy! 

That will never happen!”

That’s so off the wall, Jesus, that it’s ludicrous.

(18)Vs. 17: But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “ ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? (Luke 20:17, ESV)

He looked directly at them,

right into their eyes. 

trying to impress upon their souls

the importance of what He had just said

and that He was backing up from scripture.

So He quotes verse 22 from Psalm 118.

It’s the very same Messianic psalm

that the people had re-enacted the previous day

with His triumphal entry.

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”

According to the Psalm, the Messiah/King,

the one of whom they sang “Hosanna,”

the one who was to be greeted with “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord,” 

the one for whom they would wave branches.—

This very same Messiah/King

would be the stone that the builders, the Jewish leaders, would reject.

Yet, even though rejected, He would become the cornerstone.

Then Jesus gives a solemn warning

(19)Vs. 18: Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” (Luke 20:18, ESV)

Looking right at them

—speaking not only to His opponents but to all the people—

Jesus solemnly warns:

“You’ve got to believe what I just said.” 

Israel will kill God’s Son, as the prophets predicted.

And if you don’t believe this

and if you don’t believe that I am the Son,

You will be broken to pieces and crushed.

So, we see that Jesus wins round two,

a round that He initiated.

What did He accomplish with this parable?

Well, first of all He revealed incredible truth about what would happen to the Messiah King.

But beyond that, He powerfully reproved and exposed the Jewish leaders.

God owns the vineyard.

But you, mere tenants,

are trying to seize it for yourselves.

You are just like those who persecuted the prophets.

And here you are opposing the Beloved Son.

And soon you will put Him to death.

Despite your great religiosity, you are far, far from God.

You are all about advancing your own interests

and protecting what you view to be your own turf.

Well, they don’t like that, so they try to arrest Him

(20)Vs. 19: The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, 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, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. So 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?” (Luke 20:19–22, ESV)

Pretending to be unbiased, they start out with some compliments

But then ask Him a question designed to get Him in trouble,

either by alienating a large portion of his audience with a “yes” answer

or giving them a reason to arrest Him with a “no” answer.

Notice that they asked if it was “lawful” to pay taxes to Caesar.

Some—perhaps even a lot in Jesus’ audience—

held that under the Mosaic law,

paying taxes to a foreign Roman occupier

was a denial of God’s kingly reign over Israel.

To support paying taxes

would be a betrayal of Israel and of God.

But Jesus sees their trap and escapes with another brilliant answer.

(21)Vs. 23: But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a denarius.

A denarius was a common coin, equal to a day’s wage.

Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Now, Jesus’ audience knew the Creation story

and that God had created man in His own image.

So, with a simple coin, Jesus shifts the focus

from what we owe to Caesar

to a far, far more important issue—

what we owe to God.

The issue of taxes is so minor compared to giving your life to God

that the tax issue fades into unimportance. 

But notice that this shift of focus doesn’t leave the question unanswered.

Jesus affirms that it is permissible under God’s law

to pay taxes to an enemy occupier.

So, Jesus wins encounter number three

Yes, pay your taxes.

But far, far, far, more important,

give yourself to God. 

You are made in His image and belong to Him.

Well, next come the Sadducees

with a challenge to Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection.

 (22)Vs. 27: There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” (Luke 20:27–33, ESV)

Now, they were referring here to an ancient practice in Israel

—as well as in other societies where women couldn’t earn wages.

It was a custom that provided economic and social protection to widows.

But given this custom,

—which was prescribed in God’s law—

How could there be a resurrection

since a resurrected woman

couldn’t be married to seven resurrected men?

Jesus answers

(23)Vs. 34: And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

Jesus essentially says: “You’re thinking way too narrowly.” 

Things will be different in the coming age

when no one can die anymore.

In this way, we’ll be like the angels.

It was a common Jewish belief that angels did not procreate,

since the did not need to replenish their numbers.

So, in the next age, there will be no marriage.

And the problem you presented is irrelevant.

Then Jesus gives scriptural support for His statement

(24)Vs. 37: But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”

Now it’s interesting that Jesus could have used clearer verses from the Hebrew Bible than these.

Like Isaiah 26:19

(25)Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! (Isaiah 26:19, ESV)

Or Daniel 12:2

(26)And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2, ESV)

But Jesus knew that Sadducees founded their Biblical authority in the five books of Moses

—Genesis through Deuteronomy

So He chooses a passage from the writings of Moses,

declaring “even Moses’s writings show that the dead are raised:”

And He references Exodus 3:6, where God says,

(27)“I am . . . the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”(Exodus 3:6, ESV)

Now these three patriarchs had been dead for hundreds of years when God said that.

But God didn’t say “I was their God,”

or “I am the God who appeared to them back then.” 

He says, “I am their God,”

implying that He is still their God

Jesus argues that God would not claim to be the God of those who no longer exist.

God cannot be the God of a being who doesn’t exist.

Well, Jesus’ argument that the resurrection is implied

—even in the books of Moses

impressed some of the scribes—

probably some who believed in a resurrection. 

(28)Vs. 39: Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question. (Luke 20:39–40, ESV)

They concluded that he couldn’t be bested and gave up.

So: Jesus turns the tables and asks them a question.

Quoting King David from Psalm 110

(29)But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ

[which is the Greek word for Messiah]

is David’s son? For David himself says in the Book of Psalms, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” ’ David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?” (Luke 20:41–44, ESV)

Of course, Jesus agrees with their understanding that the Messiah will be David’s descendant,

as He Himself was a descendant of David.

But fathers don’t typically call their son’s “Lord.”

So, how can it be that the greatest of all Israel’s kings

would call his descendant “Lord”?

He’s seems to be challenging the narrow view

that the Messiah would be a great political/military savior of Israel

similar to David.

But if He is David’s Lord,

He must be much more than that.

Of course, the answer to Jesus’ question is found in the double nature of the Messiah.

As a man He is David’s descendant,

while as God He is David’s Lord.

Having overcome all challengers,  

Jesus finishes with a final rebuke and warning to His disciples

(30)Vs. 45: And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:45–47, ESV)

So Jesus boldly and publically rebukes

a self-serving, image seeking attitude

that had become entrenched in the religious establishment.

And warns the people that,

 sadly, their leaders don’t really know and follow God.

After all, here they are, openly opposing Him,

God’s Messiah/King.

And, as He declared in the parable of the wicked tenants,

in just a few days these wicked men would put Him to death.

He was telling the people,

“Don’t . . . follow them.”

So, we’ve seen in this chapter that Jesus deftly handles three challenging questions

And He brings three challenging rebukes of His own—

So: what can we learn from Jesus’ interaction with His opponents?

I have five observations:

(31) Jesus was prepared. 

Sometimes we think, “He was God,

of course He was able to out argue His opponents.”

And though it’s true that He is God,

the scripture is clear that Jesus grew and learned

just like you and I.

(32)Luke 2:51 says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52, ESV)

As a young man, He learned just like we do.

(33)And in Luke 2:46 we see that at the age of 12,

Jesus was in the temple,

sitting among the teachers,

listening to them

and asking them questions.

I doubt that this stopped at age 12. 

Jesus kept on learning. 

He knew the issues of His day,

theological issues,

political issues,

cultural issues,

moral issues.

And He thought a lot about them.

And He developed answers to the questions people were asking,

answers that defended Biblical truth,

answers that exposed underlying issues.

So that in this, His most public hour,

He was ready,

having likely already interacted with many people

and honed His answers.

(34) Secondly, Jesus didn’t avoid the hot-button issues of His day,

but turned them into opportunities

to call people to God

and challenge them to repent and change their thinking.

Now, as far as we know, He didn’t let Himself get bogged down

in technical debates with people.

But He used the controversial issues of His day

to expose people’s lack of love for God and others

and give them an opportunity to turn to God

and begin to follow His ways

There’s a common thinking today that we should just avoid the controversial issues of our day

and just stick with the gospel,

since it’s the power of God for the salvation for all who believe.

And there is truth in that. 

We should make the gospel the center and focus of our message.

But it’s clear that Jesus didn’t follow the avoidance-of-controversial-issues plan.

He spoke loudly and strongly on a wide range of issues. 

(35) My third observation is that Jesus not only defended Himself and the truth of God when confronted with potential traps,

but He also went on the offensive,

exposing their hypocritical self-centeredness,

lack of love for God,

and lack of perspective.

(36) Fourthly, Jesus sincerely and wisely attempted to win His opponents.

He was strong and direct, but not personally insulting. 

He didn’t make fun of people’s appearance or manner of speaking.

He didn’t use ad hominin arguments,

attacking people personally to win the argument.

He wasn’t out to humiliate people,

but to win them.

(37) Lastly, even when He knew that his opponents wouldn’t be won,

He defended truth for the sake of His disciples

and for the sake of the multitudes who were listening.

He spoke out strongly in order to protect them from destructive error

and to win them to Himself and to God.

So: here’s the question I’d like us to ask ourselves:

(38)“How are we doing in regard to the issues of our day? 

Are we prepared to answer the difficult questions? 

Are we able to turn the tables on opponents of God’s truth when they bring crafty questions?

Can we expose their faulty thinking and behavior,

exposing their lack of love for God

and inviting them to change?

How well are we doing at speaking up and protecting our “crowd”

—our friends, family, and children?

Are we at Stonebrook giving enough time and attention to this?

Are we prepared to win—not only the argument,

but to win any who are open hearted to the Lord?

Undoubtedly all of us can grow in this. 

The Apostle Peter admonishes us to be prepared.

(39)“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15, ESV)

Similarly, the Apostle Paul says:

(40)Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunities. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5–6, NET)

So it seems that all of us should give at least some attention

to the questions and arguments around us

that contradict and challenge our faith.

But undoubtedly, there will be some whom God especially calls to this task.

There will be some in our midst whom God raises up to take the lead

in defending the Lord and His ways in a hostile culture.

They’ll be reading books,

watching videos,

and interacting with opponents of the faith

They’ll be honing their arguments

They’ll be learning to cut beneath the issue

and aim for the heart

They’ll have a special gifting from God for this

and will lead and teach us how to best respond to the issues and questions of our day.

Let’s be praying for God to raise up such people in our midst.

Finally, I’d like to say a word the young people in our midst. 

You are being raised in a church and family culture that believes in God and Jesus as His Son.

But if you are like most young people, there will come a time when you ask yourself,

“Do I really believe this?” 

And you will have to decide if you believe

and follow the faith that your parents taught you.

And in that process you will undoubtedly encounter questions

—perhaps in your classes

or from your friends or relatives or teachers

or from something you read or watch online,

or a question that just arises in your own mind.

I’d like to say to you, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

Talk to you parents,

ask an adult in the youth group,

or talk to one of the pastors.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions like Jesus did when He was a young man.

And maybe you could even do some research of your own

and start to hone your answers,

like Jesus did.

So that you, too, will be prepared to answer critics and opponents of the truth.

There are many, many resources available that can be a great help to us. 

Here are just a few that have been helpful to me:

(41) Tom Short:

Tom has preached on campuses for decades,

using an interactive question and answer style. 

There are very few questions he hasn’t heard and thought deeply about how to answer.

Tom has written several books and has lots of online resources on hundreds of subjects.

(42)Tim Keller: Tim pastored for many years in New York City,

interacting with a tremendously diverse group of people,

And he’s written and spoken on many hot-button issues of our day.

(43)Mike Winger: Search for Mike Winger or Biblethinker on YouTube. 

I think that Mike is doing some of the best work right now

in tackling some of the questions and opposition that is so prevalent.

And, yet, he does so in a respectful and gracious way.

(44)Let’s do all we can to imitate Jesus,

to be prepared,

to hone our answers to the hot button issues of our day,

to be engaged with those with whom we disagree,

to defend the faith before those in the church,

yet to do it, as Peter says, with gentleness and respect.


Lord, thank You for giving us the Bible and especially a record of the life of Jesus the Messiah/King, Your beloved Son. Inspire us to be like Him, even though we know that we will fall woefully short of His example.  Help us to be prepared, to learn how to interact with the issues of our day in a way that’s persuasive and challenging, yet gentle and respectful.

And we pray that You would raise up leaders in this.  Men and women who will study the issues and hone their answer and help the rest of us to know how to respond.

And we pray that you would help our young people as they grow up and realize that there are a lot of alternate beliefs out there.  Help them to find answers to their questions, to remain true to You and even to become defenders of the faith themselves.

And thank you that there’s a coming day when Jesus will come back and straighten out the mess of this world.  In that day He will be fully in charge, not just for a week in His own autonomous zone, but forever, ruling over all the earth with justice, righteousness, and love.

In His name we pray

(43)Benediction: Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20–21, ESV)