14 “But when the tenant farmers saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
Imagine for a moment that you own a rental property in another state. You’ve made an agreement with renters that you won’t collect rent until they get settled—and now that time has come. You send an agent to collect the rent, but instead of paying, they punch your agent in the nose and send him away empty-handed.
At that point, most of us would grab our phone and dial up the local authorities to report an assault, and then call up a lawyer to collect the rent. I mean, really, would you have the patience and kindness to ask again politely, or would you promptly send an eviction notice to be delivered by a police officer?
In Jesus’ story, though, the owner—more literally translated as “lord”—of the vineyard sends two more servants who are treated progressively worse, with the climax of sending the owner’s son whom the renters kill.
Who is right and who is wrong in this situation is undeniable. The father and lord of the vineyard has been longsuffering and patient beyond human reason and has even lost his son due to the evil of the renters.
Anyone hearing this story should realize that the father’s solution—to bring justice on those who rejected his messengers and killed his son, and to rent the vineyard to someone who would honor him and produce fruit—is beyond fair.
The response of the crowd of religious leaders listening to this story should be painfully obvious! “They killed his son?! Of course, he should have justice! Definitely the vineyard should go to someone else!”
But that is not the response of the religious leaders listening to Jesus. Their response to the father receiving justice for his murdered son: “That must never happen!”
Clearly the religious leaders understood what Jesus was really saying. In the parallel passage of Matthew 21:43, Jesus makes it explicit that God was preparing to take His kingdom from the religious elite and give it to people who would produce fruit for the owner. Jesus is also foreshadowing His death in front of those who will be responsible for it.
But the religious leaders are so caught up with Jesus’ audacity to say that God would take the kingdom away from them that they miss the bigger picture. Instead of hearing Jesus’ warning, they walk away from this teaching and begin their plot to kill the Son (see verses 19-20).
Jesus knew He would be rejected, but He also knew He would be raised up as the cornerstone. All that matters now is whether we respond to this message as the renters did or as faithful stewards of God’s vineyard.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Is your view of justice different for yourself than for those who sin against you? Does the weight of those who sin against you weigh heavier in your heart and mind than your own sin?
- Jesus says the Father will hand the kingdom/vineyard to a people who will produce fruit (Matthew 21:43). Do you labor in God’s vineyards, or do you merely maintain the religious customs?
Pray Acts 1:8 over your family members today. Pray that each of them will respond to God’s call on their lives to know Him. Pray that each of them would be moved each day to follow Jesus, our Hope, daily, and share Him with people everywhere.