Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Gospel reading this week, from Luke 20:9-20, consists of the parable of Jesus about tenants who despised their landowner, who used his messengers badly, and who finally decided to kill his son and keep the vineyard for themselves. The owner, in righteous anger, will wage war against the tenants.
The Jewish leaders, as we read in verses 19-20, were offended because the parable was clearly pointed at them. From then on, they waged a campaign, spying on Jesus and trying to get him to say something self-incriminating. They really wanted to get rid of Jesus, no matter the cost. Their conflict, in short, became personal rather than theological.
What happens when we engate in a personal battle rather than seeking a genuine understanding of the truth? The truth finally becomes obscured. It can be swept aside in the burning desire to rid ourselves of our opponents. That’s precisely what happened to the scribes in Jesus’ time. They were intent on rejecting him, so they also rejected the words of forgiveness, of reconciliation to God, and of peace with one another which Jesus was delivering. They were so zealous for their party line it never crossed their minds that Jesus might just be the one who fulfilled the Messianic prophecies and would rescue them from sin and death. They rejected him out of hand, to their own destruction.
How do we deal with the message of hte Gospel? Are there some who reject it because they are busy rejecting its messengers? Are there messengers who are provoked to come off message and engage the “scribes” in a fist-fight, verbally or otherwise? How did Jesus deal with it? He told the truth, lived the life he was given, and died his death even on behalf of those who attacked him. Like him or not, he showed he was the one who could reconcile the world to God.
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