The Invitation - Day 18

Luke 20:4-9

9 He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time, he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

 When the people heard this, they said, “May this never be!”

17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:
“ ‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone’’?
 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.

As we unpack this passage, it is helpful to reference verse 19 for understanding. The parable of the vineyard in verses 9-16 and the metaphor of the capstone in verses 17-19 are understood by most listeners as a rebuke of Jesus’ opponents who show up in the first verse of our chapter. Why is this?

The parable includes a vineyard and its owner, who has servants and a son. But some tenants have been given care of the vineyard. These tenants enjoy its privileges. But when the owner wants some of the fruits of his property, the tenants treat him, his servants, and his son as intruders, as if the vineyard is theirs.

You can start to appreciate the meaning. The Jewish nation was given charge over precious truths and a knowledge of God designed to be shared with the world for salvation. But the Israelites hoarded their understandings rather than share them. Then, when God sends His servants (a likely reference to the prophets), they are ill-treated and beaten as enemies. Finally, God sends His Son to confront the tenants (Jesus foreshadows His crucifixion in this parable).  The tenants (religious leaders and people of Israel) believe they own this spiritual community. And when God’s Son, Jesus, shows up, they have a lethal reaction. 

A satisfied smile comes over me as I read this passage. “Good one, Jesus,” I think to myself. But as I sit with this parable, I begin to consider that Jesus is talking to me, not just the Hebrew nation of old. I love my church, Crosswalk. And, while there is an appropriate way to say, “my church.” There is a constant temptation to claim something that is God’s as my own. Weirdly, the tenants are in the story because God shares His vineyard with them. He seems regularly interested in taking His things and making them “ours” with Him. But we struggle with a selfishness that is grasping, possessive, and exclusive… “mine.”

The realization that Jesus shares His kingdom with me stirs something profound inside. He intends His kingdom to include all who are interested. But, as I create categories of exclusion, Jesus reminds me through this parable that such a mentality eventually winds up killing the Son of God, Himself. 

So, throw wide the doors of Crosswalk or any other church bearing the name of Christ. This is His church, which He shares with us. So we need not be stingy with His grace. It is meant to be given away rather than hoarded to ourselves.

  1. Is there someone you think of who needs the grace of Jesus right now? Is there some way God might use you to share it? How? 
  2. What is a way you have experienced the Grace of Jesus recently?
  3. Is there something else you are impressed to give away that you have been holding onto tightly? What is that?

By Pastor Dave Ferguson

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