Gospel: Matthew 21:33-46
Epistle: Philemon 3:4b-14
Lesson: Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm: Psalm 80:7-19
CLB Commentary – Regional Pastor Gary Witkop
An interesting parable which was spoken to the very people it was about, the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders at the time of Jesus. This parable is a veiled outline of Israel’s history with the slaves being the Prophets. Most of the prophets were killed by the very people they were sent to proclaim God’s Word to. It is often unpopular to proclaim God’s Word as the Word of God often goes against the common culture. So it is today as well. If we are rightly proclaiming God’s Word we will be cutting against the popular culture and we will be unpopular, at least to some. That is very evident today with the gay rights movement, Christians are on the outside of popular culture on that issue and many others as well. It is also true that if we proclaim God’s Word rightly, even some in the church will be against us as God’s Word cuts against the popular culture of the church as well. An example of that would be some of the teachings of some churches that say Christians should be prosperous, or comfortable, or materially and otherwise blessed. While those may happen, the opposite also happens to believers. There are likely as many false teachings in the church as there are in our secular culture and God’s Word, rightly taught, will cut against all of them making the messenger unpopular.
After God sent prophet after prophet to Israel, God sent His Son. After God sends preacher after preacher today, God will again send His Son. Just as Jesus was not welcome at His first Advent, I think He will not be welcome when He comes again. Most people do not want to be told they are doing wrong and yet the scripture is clear that we are all sinners.
What can we take away from this parable? That we need to be ready for the coming of Christ. We need to listen to the scriptures and instead of rejecting them we need to accept them as God’s Word. Instead of trying to make God say what we want Him to say, as the false prophets did and as false preachers do, we need to hear what God says and accept it. God’s Word was not then and is not now easy or popular. God’s Word teaches us that we are all sinners and that there is a savior. The bite is that we are all sinners. The good news is that there is a savior and that savior is God’s Son. What will we do when God sends His own Son to us? Will we accept him as God’s Son or will we do as the vineyard tenants did and reject him and kill him?
Other items of note in this parable: Jesus, God’s Son, would be taken outside the vineyard (Jerusalem) to be killed (39); the message of salvation through faith in Jesus would be removed from Israel and given to the gentiles (43); Jesus was very aware of who he was as God’s Son and not another prophet or other “good person” (37); Jesus was aware that He would be killed by the leaders of Israel (39); God is more than patient with us as shown in the sending of many slaves or prophets (34 – 36).