(Jesus said to the people), “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet. ~ Matthew 21:33-46
We have to be really careful with this parable.
I has been used for centuries as a way to say that God has chosen Christians now instead of Jews. Please don't go there.
Jesus is speaking directly to a group of particular leaders who have misused their authority. Who have led people away from rather than to God.
And that isn't simply just true of these particular Jewish leaders of the first century. There have been plenty of religious leaders in the last 2000 years of all faiths who have done that.
So please don't use this parable as a gateway to anti-Semitism.
Instead, it serves as another reminder of how much we have taken God's gifts to us for granted. And how much God keeps wanting to try over and over again to give us those gifts.
Over and over again the vineyard is offered as a place for bounty and beauty. Over and over again, we seem to miss that.
And over and over again God keeps showing us that it is ours. It is our gift. But it is also our gift to share.
Can we lead others to share in the gift as well? Or are we going to build walls and keep others out?
Do we look to leaders who show us the way into the vineyard, or do we put all our hopes in the wrong basket?
Help me to reach out to your gifts, Lord. And may I not keep anyone else from receiving those gifts as well. Amen