Are you a people-pleaser or a people-lover? Both people-pleasers and people-lovers may do the same things — serving, worshiping, helping, or giving. But the reason why they act is very different. The people-pleaser does to get something for him/herself, such as love, affection, friendship, respect, social standing. When they do not get it, they become angry or resentful or disappointed. People-lovers acts to give, and so even when they do not get in return, they can continue to do. Luke 20:1–18 warns of the destructive path of the people-pleaser while showing the path of the people-lover as well. While people pleasers are ensnared by fear (20:1–8) and destroyed by rebellion (20:9–16), people lovers can give because they are saved by the Rejected One (20:17–18). Jesus shows us the pathway to becoming true people lovers in this passage. How?
First, people-pleasers are ensnared by fear (Luke 20:1–8). Jesus is in the temple, the center of authority and power of that day. The priests had authority because of their birth and the scribes had power because of their knowledge, and they wielded power because they controlled the means of forgiving sin through sacrifice in the temple. Jesus threatened that power because he, like John the Baptist before him, forgave sins without sending people to the sacrifice of the temple. Threatened, they challenge his authority (20:2), and he responds by asking them the source of John the Baptist’s authority (20:3–4). They cannot answer that question because they are ensnared by the fear of man. They neither believed that his baptism was from heaven which would compromise their authority (20:5–6) nor could they dismiss it as from earth because of their fear of men (20:7–), so they confess that they did not know. They care more about their own power, authority and standing before people than the truth. And Jesus exposes their selfishness and fearfulness.
Second, people-pleasers are destroyed by rebellion (Luke 20:9–15). Jesus gives a parable of a vineyard which represents Israel as the people of God. Although its leaders have been entrusted to tend God’s vineyard, they do not recognize the owner of that vineyard. Messengers from the owner are repeatedly beat, wounded and cast out, just as the prophets from God were rejected time and time again (2 Chron 36:14–16). Yet ultimately these people-pleasers are destroyed by their rebellion after they kill the son and heir (Luke 20:13–16).
However, people-lovers are saved by the Rejected One (Luke 20:16–18). When we look at the parable of the vineyard, the long-suffering patience of the vineyard owner is remarkable. He keeps sending servants and messengers to the tenants, and he finally sends his own son. He is slow to anger. Even this parable and threat of destruction is an invitation from Jesus to the leaders to repent as he “looked directly at them” (20:17). And the Rejected One becomes the cornerstone of a new temple (20:17; Ps 118:22) to open up the gates of salvation for the broken to enter. And as we come to the rejected One, we can bless others in love (cf. Ps 118:26).
The fear of man is a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe (Prov 29:25). In this passage we see that the leadership of the temple was ensnared by their fear of man. However as we come to Jesus, the rejected One, we can be safe and are empowered to love. May we become people lovers who are saved by the Rejected One!