“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a 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. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 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 have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore 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 let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” 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 marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.
(Matthew 21:33-46 ESV)
Over the past few days we’ve been studying the second of three parables spoken by Jesus to the religious leaders who had rejected His authority and claims to be the Messiah. Both parables were quite convicting. Through them Jesus not only revealed the evil character of these men but revealed that He was well aware of their evil character. In fact, when they heard these parables they understood that Jesus was speaking about them.
They knew they were the son who lied to His father about going to work in the field but did not go. They knew they were the evil tenants who killed the landowner’s servants and son. They knew they were the builders who rejected the stone that would eventually crush them. Yet these truths had no positive effect on them. In fact, they had the opposite effect.
Rather than admit their wrongdoing they were seeking to arrest Jesus. The truth about themselves made them not want to change themselves but made them want to rid their lives of Jesus.
The only thing that stopped them was they feared the crowds who held Jesus to be a prophet. These men had contempt for Jesus, who had just told them He had power over their eternities, yet they did not fear Him. Yet they feared the populace, who had no political or spiritual power.
Such is the way with many people. They hear the gospel message. They know what it says. It’s quite simple and direct, after all. Anyone can understand it. They know God considers them a sinner who is destined to spend eternity in hell unless they believe what God says, repent, and accept His forgiveness. Yet they refuse. Instead, their solution is to ignore it.
No one can improve unless they know where they need to improve. This is why we have performance reviews on our jobs. We find out where we are weak so we can address those areas. People who turn negative feedback into positive attributes and behaviors are the ones who succeed the most in life. But those who respond with contempt to their weaknesses remain weak.
Similarly those who embrace God’s truth about them – that they are a sinner who cannot earn his/her way to heaven, but who is destined for an eternity in hell – and respond with a broken heart and repentance will gain eternal life [Matthew 5:3]. Those who respond to God with contempt will not.
No one would despise a doctor for telling them they had a severe medical problem. Instead they’d address the problem to restore their health. Each individual on this earth does have a severe problem. It’s called sin. And it’s up to each person to decide what they are going to do about it.
You can be insulted by it and ignore it. But that won’t make it go away. Or you can follow the steps God prescribes to cure yourself of it.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.