Lord, in this time with you, I ask for a surer knowledge of who I am and what I must be about.
Read MATTHEW 21:33–46
The Parable of the Tenants
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’[a]?
43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”[b]
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.’1
Jesus continues challenging the leaders with a third vineyard parable.2 This story envisages the process of building a vineyard and tenanting it – pointing to God’s care in forming Israel. A series of servants comes to take the owner’s fruit, but they are beaten, killed, and stoned. These are the prophets summoning Israel to produce the fruit of the covenant. The son who is killed clearly alludes to Jesus, a statement of his divine authority and another prediction of his death. In the ancient world, such a situation would shame the owner and demand retribution, which comes as the tenants die and others take their place.
Crowds had sung from Psalm 118 as Jesus entered Jerusalem.3 Now (v 42) Jesus cites the same psalm,4 showing its messianic import. He is the rejected stone who is the cornerstone of God’s new temple of people from the world. How marvelous!
Because Israel’s leaders reject God’s Son, the kingdom will go to others who will produce its fruit. Where rejected, the stone that holds together God’s people becomes a stone of crushing – a vivid warning that to reject Jesus brings God’s wrathful judgment (a dominant Matthean theme).
Those who believe in God and Jesus are to recognize the marvelousness of Jesus, the stone of our salvation. Praise God, Amen! We are to produce the fruit of lives of praise, loving service and witness. We are warned to sustain this commitment because, if we lapse, the kingdom will be gifted to others. Is this happening in our world, as we in the Western church fail in our tenancy and the gospel blooms in the majority world? How sad we have become – but how marvelous what God is doing!
Let the apathetic among us repent, rise up, and be fruitful. Let us rejoice in the Cornerstone whose name is exalted throughout the world.
Loving Father, I am reminded today that actions have consequences. May following your will and obeying your Word be my priority. I’m so grateful I am your child.
1 Ps 118:1,29 2 See also Matt 20:1–16; 21:28–32 3 Matt 21:9; Ps 118:26 4 Ps 118:22,23
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