Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Parable of The Evil Farmers

Matthew 21:33-46

33 “Now listen to another story. A certain landowner planted a vineyard, built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. 34 At the time of the grape harvest, he sent his servants to collect his share of the crop. 35 But the farmers grabbed his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 So the landowner sent a larger group of his servants to collect for him, but the results were the same. 37 “Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’

38 “But when the tenant farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ 39 So they grabbed him, dragged him out of the vineyard, and murdered him.

40 “When the owner of the vineyard returns,” Jesus asked, “what do you think he will do to those farmers?”

41 The religious leaders replied, “He will put the wicked men to a horrible death and lease the vineyard to others who will give him his share of the crop after each harvest.”

42 Then Jesus asked them, “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures?

‘The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing,
and it is wonderful to see.’

43 I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. 44 Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”

45 When the leading priests and Pharisees heard this parable, they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet.

S - Scripture

38 But when the tenant farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, "Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!"

O - Observation

The original readers would have known this was a story. Jesus was speaking to and challenging the church leaders. His challenge was that the leaders of the church were not returning fruits to God. It is also foreshadowing of what is to come for Jesus with his upcoming death.

This is a complex parable, but it has some pretty straightforward applications on the nature of God:

  1. God creates environments for people to flourish in life (verse 33). God planted a vineyard, built a fence, dug a wine press, and built a watch tower. Everything that was needed for a vineyard.
  2. God places great trust in people (verse 33). God left the area and let the people run the farm.
  3. God gives second chances when people mess up (verses 35 to 37).
  4. God is a fair judge (verse 43 and 44).

It is important to note that God wasn't being harsh on the tenants (church leaders). They made their own poor decisions and now were facing the consequences of their mistakes.

The word "nation" in Greek is ethnos which in the plural means Gentiles or people. Jesus said from now on leadership will no longer be based on position but on fruitfulness.

A - Application

So much content is packed into this parable. After reading through it a few times, the application to my life, today, is to take God up on the second chance that he offers. The tenants made the mistake of beating up and killing the collectors. God gave them another chance.

I've made mistakes and God gave and continues to give me a second chance. Whether I accept this second chance or not is up to me. I can live as defeated, dejected, broken, or hopeless. Or, I can choose to live as a person who is striving for victory, is optimistic, is in the process of healing, and is hopeful. I'll take God up on the second chance.

P - Prayer

God, I have made mistakes. Sometimes I make the same mistake over and over again. Don't let my imperfection change my view of who you are and who I can become. Help me embrace the second chance. Amen.

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