• Emma Keeton

2021_09_24 Insight Post- Emma Keeton

This week's reading- Luke 19-20

Sometimes when we read accounts of Jesus' interactions with others we can be left a little perplexed about what's really going on. Luke 20:1-8 is one of those fascinating passages. Jesus is teaching in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news when he is asked by the teachers of the law “Tell us by what authority are you doing these things.” They said. “Who gave you this authority?” (Luke 20:2) Jesus responds to the Jewish leaders with a seemingly unrelated question “John's baptism-was it from heaven, or human origin?” (Luke 20:4). Why are the Jewish leaders asking Jesus about authority? A look into Jewish culture can shed light on the meaning behind this conversation.

There were two kinds of rabbi in Jesus' day. Those who had authority and those who didn't. If you were a rabbi with authority you weren't just a brilliant teacher. You knew every word of the Hebrew bible by memory. You performed healing miracles (except raising the dead), and you had the ability to interpret the scriptures. Do you recognize this teaching pattern? This is a rabbi with authority:

“It was written.”

“You have heard that it means this.”

“But I tell you it means this.”

The Hebrew name for authority is 'semikhah' and there have only been a handful of rabbis recorded as having it. To get semikhah you had to be given it publicly by two others that had it. The Jewish leaders could see that Jesus was a rabbi with semikhah but they could not work out how Jesus received it. Jesus gives his answer to them by pointing back to John's baptism. If John's baptism was from heaven, Jesus had publicly received his authority from God at his own baptism and John was the second person in attendance. Jesus was the only rabbi that received his authority directly from God. Jesus' masterful answer tells the Jewish leaders exactly what they want to know and stops them from being able to question him further about his authority.

Luke 20:1-8 gives a wonderful snapshot into who Jesus was. He is worthy of our attention and honor today as our perfect rabbi!

Emma Keeton

Prayer Team Lead


Jesus Authority and Rabbi Nic Method.” That the World May Know. Focus on the Family, 2021. thattheworldmayknow.com.