The Stone Builders Reject (Lent 36-2019)

Time was running short.  Only a few days left before His earthly ministry would be completed.  What was good news for some would be very bad news for others.  Either Jesus would be the rock-solid foundation of their salvation or He’d be the stone the builders reject and eventually—after all their chances to repent were exhausted–there would be hell to pay.

Luke 20:1 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, … 9 He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

The people scratched their heads as Jesus strategically paused in the story.  Why would the tenants beat the vineyard owners’ servants and send them away one by one?  Surely the tenants would have understood that this vineyard had been a long-term investment by the owner but that without the tenant farmers, the land would be overrun, and wilderness would take over.  They performed their function and would have received their full share.

The owner was only asking for some fruit for his land purchase and expenses in planting of the vineyard.  So why would they do this awful thing?

Jesus’ audience understood this particular parable was about them, the Chosen People.  They themselves were the vineyard!  They knew those responsible for nurturing the Chosen People throughout history until the final vindication were the teachers, the leaders, and the chief priests.  Had these leaders failed?

Consider all the blessings!  They’d had the covenants!  They had the promises!  They had the patriarchs!  They had the deliverance from Egypt!  They had Moses and all the prophets!  They had the Law!  And they had all the prophetic writings, and documented history through generations of kings both good and bad.  Why would their experts and teachers throw it all away?

After Jesus held their gaze through a powerful pause, He continued,

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

The people were listening with rapt attention, knowing God was the rightful king of the Chosen People, the owner of the vineyard.  Is Jesus talking about the Messiah?

14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”

Think about it:

  • Why did the people say “God forbid”? 
  • Was it the treatment of the heir, the tenants’ death, or the reallocation of the vineyard that bothered them?
  • Who is God bringing into the Chosen People?
  • What is Jesus saying in Luke 20:17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”?
  • What are two ways in which anti-Semitism ought to be abhorrent to Christians?  Read Romans 9-11 for insight.
  • In what way is it not “God forbid” but God ordained?

Thank You, Father, for Your plan to include the Gentile world and to fulfill Your promise to Abraham, that he would be the father of many nations.  Thank You, Lord Jesus, for being faithful to the end.  Thank You, that we can rely upon You because You are faithful, and we can trust You because Your Word tells us that You are love. We praise You!  Amen and Amen.

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Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on April 16, 2019

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