Matthew 21:33-46 – Wicked Tenants

Read Matthew 21:33-46

Today’s parable is also told in two of the other gospels: Mark 12:1-12 and Luke 20:9-19. You can read the other accounts and my reflections. Matthew’s version is the most complete, however there are other details in the other gospels that will help you understand the whole story. When we look at this story in Matthew’s context, we see that it is the second of two parables Jesus uses that day in the temple.

The religious leaders are already put out with Jesus and his non-compliance to their questions. In our reading from yesterday, Jesus has all but told them that while they claim to be believers and teachers of the law, they are acting disobediently. God can see their hearts. They are failing miserably. Now, Jesus talks of the wicked tenants to the vineyard.

Did you catch all the players here? The land owner is God, the vineyard is Israel, the servants are the prophets (Jeremiah was beaten, John the Baptist was killed, and others were stoned), and the son was Jesus. God has used many prophets to bring his message to the people. These messengers were never accepted and regularly their words were rejected by the people.

God wanted his message of love to be heard. He sent his son Jesus to rescue the world and offer salvation to those who believe. Surely God’s son would be recognized and adored. Think of it. The Son of God, the Almighty. But Jesus’ words, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” Jesus is the foundation of the church. Upon him our trust and faith are built. Many people, even today, are rejecting him.

Jesus makes it personal for those religious leaders. He not only speaks of what has happened in the past, he pronounces their fate as well. The religious leaders recognize that Jesus is talking about them. Do they also realize that Jesus is foretelling the future, his brutal death at the hands of those very same leaders? They can not deny their place in the kingdom is in jeopardy. This probably rocked their world.

Up to this point, there was so much reliance on genealogy and being a son of Abraham. Abraham’s descendants were the promised ones. Didn’t they have an automatic “in” to the kingdom? Weren’t the good deeds that they did enough?

Jesus’ words that seemed to indicate he was the Son of God would be blasphemous. That, together with their own jealousy is what fueled their desire to have Jesus arrested. Because Jesus was so popular, they were afraid of the consequences to such an act.

So how does this apply to you? Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Are you being obedient to God’s will for your life? Spend some time today reflecting on what God wants for you to do for the kingdom.

Let’s pray. Lord, thank you for what you endured for me. I have a hard time reconciling that the religious leaders would have acted this way. Yet it makes me realize that I, too, may not be 100% dialed in to your leading. I may be trying to figure it out and messing things up. Forgive me. I do want to be living in your will. I do want to be still and listen for your direction. Help me to slow down and wait on you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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