Timeline: In the verses prior to Luke 19:47-48, Jesus encountered Zaccheus (vv. 1-10), and told the parable of the ten minas (vv. 11-27). The larger context or backdrop of the passage includes the events of Holy Week, leading to Jesus’ execution. Luke recorded the triumphal entry (vv. 28-40) and Jesus weeping over Jerusalem (vv. 41-44). In verse 46, Jesus cleansed the temple, drove out the sellers and declared God’s word that God’s house is to be a house of prayer, but was made a den of thieves/robbers. Then,
47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words. (ESV)
Jesus was no surprise minister with a pop-up church or school. He operated within the established order of the day and brought the truth of God’s Kingdom to the people. He taught daily in the temple.
Three groups of people from this temple actively sought to destroy Jesus — the chief priests, the scribes and the principal men. These were learned men who offered no welcome to Jesus but daily observed and heard His teaching and looked for proof to discredit Him. In their seeking, these men found there was nothing they could do to Jesus. Why? Because the people hung on to Jesus’ words. The people would not be swayed. There was no opening to distract the people from hearing Jesus’ teaching.
For consideration: What is it that the learned among God’s people feel, that sometimes they are compelled to seek the destruction of others? When doctrinal shifts occur in the Body of Christ, history reveals a singular and targeted few who become the leading voices of a kind of movement. In presenting what most have not heard before, these few endure persecution as they obey God’s call to the best of their ability and understanding. Today, some seek consensus first before unveiling a new teaching or new knowledge; a case can be made for the safety in agreement and endorsement.
What is it, except the learned find Jesus a threat because His teaching draws the ear and attention of the people? The people listened to Jesus in a way that could springboard them into full life transformation.
The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. ~Frederick Buechner, from Wishful Thinking
For application: What if we, who today are the learned of God — the devoted, the committed, the studied — dove into our areas of ignorance to be captivated by Jesus’ teaching? What if we searched for Jesus’ teaching to reveal knowledge that new to us? And, what if this “new knowledge” entered our souls as divine light, but also expanded our borders right in the things that rubbed us the wrong way? What if we chose to learn from each other instead of starting campaigns to discredit and harm each other?
If this were the case, I might say we, the learned, would be on the brink of real transformation. And, we might finally be on the way to preparation for leadership of the Lord’s work.
The charge: Leave the false prophets and false teachers to God. Leave the error to God. Leave preference on our personal altars, built with our own hands, to be burned up by our God who is a consuming fire. And present Jesus’ teachings in His spirit of truth.
The learned who teach us must also lead us into paths of righteousness. The learned must break through the bondage of knowledge into the an embrace with liberating wisdom and understanding… though the wisdom and understanding must be God’s.
If we claim to know anything about God — even from the smallest testimony — then we are the stewards of Christian community. We are entrusted with and accountable to Jesus’ teachings that quicken us all.
Shaunta D. Scroggins is the lead contributor to the Bereans’ Commentary.
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"In the darkness of night, I wait expectantly for understanding and knowledge for your people."
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