We have all had experiences where we have done something for someone else or for some group of people, only to have our kind and gracious efforts go unappreciated, even rejected. Try as I might, I cannot come up with any illustration or word picture that comes at all close to capturing the extent of rejection exhibited by the Jewish nation toward God.
God had chosen Abraham and his family, sustaining them through years of bondage in Egypt, bringing them miraculously back to the Promised Land. They were a chosen people out of all the nations. Over and over they rebelled against God, and over and over after requisite judgments, He renewed them by His grace.
Coming through the prophets were many great promises of a messiah. The descriptions of his person and his deeds were not lacking in clarity. God was ready to bless them and fulfill His many prophetic words of national blessing. Yet they rejected the Promised One – Jesus.
The parable of the tenants that we look at today was a most pointed communication to the teachers of the law and the chief priests in particular. There was no misunderstanding that it was a shot between the eyes.
The elements of the parable are clear: God is the vineyard owner, the tenants are the spiritual leaders, the servants sent to the tenants are the prophets, and the beloved son is Jesus himself. The others who will be given the vineyard are the Gentiles.
“God forbid!” was the response. It is the same, powerful expression as is used multiple times in the writings of Paul. But such a cataclysmic overturning of the accepted order of things is exactly what was happening. And the religious leadership, along with the masses of the nation, simply did not have a category of consideration that they might be outside of the plan of God. Hence, they wished to be rid of him immediately, though still at this moment there were too many in the crowd who were captivated by his teaching. That would change.
As the master plan of God would unfold, we today are among the multitudes who are the beneficiaries of God’s grace extended to the world. We as the church of Christ are the new people of God. And it behooves us to be ever mindful of our position of grace, to be thankful of it and thoughtful as to being rightly a part of God’s plan in our generation. And this plan is to be His witnesses and agents to take the gospel to a lost and needy world.
Luke 20:9 – 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 se rvant 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.
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.’
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!”
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?’ [from Psalm 118:22]
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”
19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.