Theme: God’s Justice
This parable warns that we must act now, in the day of grace.
“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit.
As we noted in yesterday’s study, Christ’s hearers could not have had any doubt in their minds that he was speaking of them and of those who had responsibility for their spiritual development. That fact tempts us to dismiss the parable as applying only to them and therefore not to ourselves. But let us say at the start that if that is the way we are interpreting Christs remarks, we are misreading him utterly, Jesus told the story in that Way because he was speaking to Jews. But would he not have made it equally pointed if he were telling it to us? He may have used another image we do not know what it might have been. Or he might simply have said that we, too, may be compared to vines, as Israel was. Has he not planted Americans in our land? Has he not fenced us in has he not watered and cared for us? Has he not built a watchtower? Has he not sent tenants to care for us and present our choice fruits to him when he returns for them? Of course he has. Yet we have not been faithful, any more than Israel was faithful.
In speaking to his Jewish audience, Jesus focused on the way God’s servants had been and would be treated. In that we have both history and prophecy. In the days of Elijah, Jezebel murdered the Lord’s prophets in large numbers. In the reign of Joash, the people stoned Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada. Isaiah, the greatest of all the prophets, was sawn asunder by order of Manasseh, according to Jewish tradition. The tombs of many of those men were in the valley of Kidron, within a short walk of where our Lord was speaking, so anyone could easily have verified that the treatment of the prophets was as the Lord said.
The author of Hebrews wrote,
Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
Who is it who did those things to the prophets? It was the Jews, the very people to whom Jesus was speaking.
Christ’s parable was also prophecy. It not only recounted what had happened. It foretold what those very people, the descendants of those who had killed the prophets, would do to him. We speak of Jesus as being meek and mild. We refer to him as the embodiment love. We refer to his many works of healing the sick, raising the dead, curing the lepers. And those are true descriptions. He was all those things. But was he loved for it? On the contrary, he was hated because, at the same time that he was doing those good things, he was also the representative of God and the people hated him for his godlike characteristics.
Does Jesus limit the subject of his parables to the Israelites?
How were the prophets treated?
Why did Jesus target the Israelites?
How was this parable prophetic
He was hated because, at the same time that he was doing those good things, he was also the representative of God and the people hated him for his godlike love. We refer to his many works of healing the characteristics