Renters of a Vineyard
(Matthew 21.33-46; Luke 20.9-19)
1 Jesus then told them this story:
A farmer once planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it and dug a pit to crush the grapes in. He also built a lookout tower. Then he rented out his vineyard and left the country.
2When it was harvest time, he sent a servant to get his share of the grapes. 3The renters grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him away without a thing.
4The owner sent another servant, but the renters beat him on the head and insulted him terribly. 5Then the man sent another servant, and they killed him. He kept sending servant after servant. They beat some of them and killed some.
6The owner had a son he loved very much. Finally, he sent his son to the renters because he thought they would respect him. 7But they said to themselves, “Someday he will own this vineyard. Let's kill him! That way we can have it all for ourselves.” 8So they grabbed the owner's son, killed him, and threw his body out of the vineyard.
9Jesus asked, “What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? He will come and kill those renters and let someone else have his vineyard. 10 You surely know that the Scriptures say,
‘The stone the builders
is now the most important
stone of all.
11This is something
the Lord has done,
and it is amazing to us.’ ”
12The leaders knew that Jesus was really talking about them, and they wanted to arrest him. But because they were afraid of the crowd, they let him alone and left.
Sometimes the truth hurts. The religious leaders in Christ’s day felt its sting when Jesus taught the parable in this passage.
“A man planted a vineyard and built a protective fence around it”, said Jesus. He dug a vat to collect the juice from crushed grapes, and he established a watchtower. Having set up the operation for success, the owner rented the facility to vine-growers and left the country.
When harvest season came, the owner sent a slave to collect his share of the produce. The tenants beat him and sent him away. A second slave experienced similar treatment. The owner sent several more slaves, but all were either beaten or killed. Finally he sent his son. Sadly, the tenants killed him, too.
The leaders immediately identified the story’s characters: The tenants represented themselves and their predecessors – those in charge of God’s people. The second group of servants represented the prophets – messengers sent by God to call the people to repentance, warn of impending judgment for disobedience, and tell of the coming Messiah. God was the vineyard’s owner. The son represented Jesus – the one whose imminent arrest and death they would sanction.
The truth hurt. The leaders knew Christ’s words were directed at them. They took offense and wanted to arrest him, but they feared the public’s response. Instead, they left him and went away.
God’s word presents us with spiritual truth today. Sometimes other believers do, too. How do we respond? Do we hear it, take offense, and turn away as the Pharisees did? Or do we accept it and allow it to change us as needed?
Let’s do what’s right and embrace truth. Doing so ensures God can accomplish his purposes in and through us.
Dear Lord, thank you for pursuing me with your sacrificial and steadfast love. Thank you for caring enough about me to teach me truth. Please guard me from unbelief or skepticism. Keep my heart sensitive to your voice and obedient to your ways so that you can accomplish your eternal purposes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.