Friday, July 12, 2019
Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
6 “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
7 “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 11 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.
This parable is found in three of the gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke. Jesus intends that the priests and Pharisees would get the point of the parable, because Israel was often referred to as God’s vineyard. God of course is the landowner who planted Israel, meaning the vineyard. God took good care of the vineyard – building a wall around it (remember Nehemiah and the wall around Jerusalem?), making a winepress and a watchtower to protect the people. God rented out the vineyard in that the political and religious leaders were charged with taking good care of Israel.
The problem arises when the landowner sends his servants to collect the owner’s share of the profits after the harvest has been gathered in. The servants in the parable represent the prophets of the Lord, who were historically not treated well. Elijah had to run for his life from the wrath of King Ahab. Jeremiah was beaten. John the Baptist was beheaded. Other prophets were stoned. The question Jesus is asking through this parable is how the chief priests and Pharisees can presume to be obedient to God’s commands while rejecting God’s prophets?
No surprise who the son in the parable is but Jesus himself. Jesus realized how the Pharisees were against him and were plotting to kill him. The gospels are full of situations that demonstrate the extent to which the religious authorities were angry with Jesus. This parable was undoubtedly additional fuel for the fire.
How hard it is to be told a truth we don’t want to believe! I don’t want to hear an uncomfortable truth about myself, no different from the chief priests and Pharisees. Praise God when we can listen, repent, and seek to act better in the future.
It’s difficult being confronted with a truth we don’t want to hear, Lord. We can get angry and deny the allegations, even if we know in our heart what we have done. Our hearts become hardened, lest we repent and be changed. Move within us to accept what is hard truth, and mold us into your obedient servants. In Christ we pray, Amen.