I’m not always great at “thinking on my toes”, but I can come up with something fabulous at 3:00 in the morning! Sometimes when I’m lying in bed at night, a conversation from earlier in the day goes through my mind and I think, “Why didn’t I say that differently? I could’ve explained it much more clearly!”
The responses of Jesus in today’s reading give us some practical inspiration for effective communication. Open your Bible and read Luke 20.
Throughout this chapter, the Pharisees ask Jesus multiple questions, hoping to trap him. They’re confrontational, but trying to be sneaky about it. Jesus answers them in various ways, but each time, it seems like the perfect response.
Is confrontation a regular occurrence in your holiday gatherings? Maybe you have a family member that just seems naturally contentious no matter what. The passage in verses 1-8 might give you a new way to respond.
In this passage, the Pharisees confront Jesus about His authority. They sort of put Him on trial. Instead of answering them directly, Jesus turns the tables and puts them on trial by asking them a question that reveals their hearts.
I’ve recently learned the wisdom of responding to a question with a question. This is particularly useful when you’re having a conversation about a controversial topic. It’s tempting to respond quickly and extensively in an effort to convince the other person of your own point of view, but there’s much wisdom in asking questions to gain a deeper understanding of their perspective.
Asking questions can also help others think through their reasons for believing what they believe. Sometimes, the questions are enough to change their perspective. The advantage is that they come to that new conclusion on their own rather than being told directly.
Telling a story is an entertaining way to relate to others. People are drawn into stories more than to dry information. Storytelling can make a point or provoke deeper thought on a subject that may be uncomfortable or awkward. People are less likely to argue about a story than an opinion.
In verses 9-16, Jesus responds to His opponents with a parable. In the story, the longer the vineyard owner is gone, the more brazenly opposed to his authority the vine-growers (tenant farmers) become. The vine-growers start acting like owners, and they treat the slaves shamefully, assuming the owner won’t return. But the owner is relentless.
It’s the entire history of Israel in story form. The owner represents God, the vine-growers represent the religious leaders of the Jewish people, and the slaves represent the prophets of God. The parable illustrates the sinful attitudes of the Pharisees and the relentless love, grace, and mercy of God.
When the Pharisees hear the story, they simply respond with, “How terrible that such a thing should ever happen (v.16, NLT)!” The story created a moment of agreement between Jesus and the Pharisees. Their hearts rightly recognized that the vine-growers were wrong.
Sometimes the best way to contribute to a conversation is to tell your own story. Do you have an unsaved loved one who refuses to hear you “preach about God”? Why not tell them your story? Just share with them in a very natural way what God has done for you and how it has impacted your life.
Jesus quotes Scripture in His responses to the Pharisees in verse 17 and in verses 41-44. These were prophecies from the Old Testament that were familiar to the Pharisees.
What I love about this is that Jesus was full of the Word of God. He knew it “by heart”. It came to Him naturally as a response to some tough questions.
I want to be like Jesus. I want to be so full of God’s Word that it supernaturally naturally informs my thoughts and opinions and permeates my words, whether I’m conscious of it or not.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your example to us in the Bible. Your wisdom is astounding! Help me to communicate with grace and truth this holiday season. When there’s a threat of confrontation or when the conversation becomes tense, may my words reflect the truth of Your Word, and may I speak in a way that builds relationships instead of tearing them down.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14, NLT).”