Luke 20:19-26 (NKJV)
19 And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people—for they knew He had spoken this parable against them. 20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor. 21 Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: 22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 23 But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me? 24 Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” They answered and said, “Caesar’s.” 25 And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent.
As the narrative from yesterday’s reading continues, the chief priests and scribes now want to seize Jesus but cannot because they fear the people. It is also clear that they understand that the previous parable was spoken against them.
This is quite sad, really. In terms that even a child could understand, Jesus had called these religious leaders to repentance. But instead of owning their sin and unrighteousness, instead of repenting of their unbelief and turning to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation, they dug in their heels all the more in stubborn defiance of the truth. This can only turn out badly for them, and it probably did in the long run. It is probably fair to assume that most, if not all of these men are in hell for their sins and unbelief. Their rejection of Jesus could only have earned for them eternal damnation.
It is most certainly difficult for anyone, including Christians, to admit and own their sins; we have a hard time admitting our wrongs.
But here’s the thing: confessing our sins not only angers the devil, but more importantly it glorifies God. For when we confess, we give God the glory by saying the same thing God says about our sins – that He is God, we are not, and He is right to punish us eternally. We simply but profoundly confess, “I have sinned; Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!” And then we hear the sweet Gospel that Christ has taken our sins upon Himself and died for them, that He alone suffered the Father’s full wrath for the sins of all men, and now delivers the benefits of His death and resurrection in the Gospel preached and the Sacraments rightly administered.
So confess, repent, and cling to Christ’s work for you.
Let us pray: O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.