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.
In Matthew 21 Jesus plays on a parabolic prophetic statement made by Isaiah in chapter 5. Jesus tells of a man who built a vineyard, very much like the vineyard God planted in Isaiah 5. The vineyard is turned over to tenants who are responsible to care for it and share the profits with the owner.
In their greed, the tenants try to keep all the proceeds and even claim ownership of the vineyard. They are cruel and harmful.
What would the owner of such a vineyard do? He would certainly take action against his tenants and try to get responsible tenants. That goes almost entirely without saying.
Why would Jesus tell such a parable? In the text we see that the Jewish leaders know he is speaking about them. The implication is that they have been acting against the will of God, the one who planted the vineyard and owns the property. This, of course, angers the Jewish leaders.
Though this is a parable of judgment, there is a piece of obvious good news. After all, we can think of what is not stated. If the tenants are responsible, if they give the honor due to the owner of the vineyard, if the confess that all the proceeds belong to the owner and that he has shared it with them, recognizing their labor, all will be well. The owner may even reward them generously.
What is God’s reward to his people? As we look to him in faith, as we acknowledge him for who he is, the Lord gives forgiveness, life, and hope to all who trust him. This is no small reward. It is a reward we could never earn, no matter how long and hard we worked. This is great good news.
Are we angered by the parable? Maybe we are aligned more with the Jewish leaders than with the Master of the vineyard.
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