Matthew 21:33-46: He Is the Owner
March 2, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
To explain further his radical point that it was the unexpected who truly received Jesus’ message of the kingdom, Jesus now tells another parable (21:33). This one is about a vineyard, a typical symbol for God’s people and for Israel, and about an owner of the vineyard. There are tenants that he leases this vineyard to, and when the master sends his servants to get his payment for leasing the vineyard (the fruits), the tenants violently refuse to pay up (21:35-36). Finally, the owner of the vineyard decides to send his son, thinking that they would surely respect his son. But instead they decide that the moment was ripe for them to kill the son, and heir, and thereafter the vineyard would be theirs (21:39).
The question Jesus asks is a stirring one: what will the owner of the vineyard do to such tenants? There is only one answer (21:41): he will put to death the tenants and find others who are more worthy. Turning the story suddenly upon his hearers, Jesus quotes from Psalm 118 saying that he is the stone that the builders have rejected. And the kingdom of God, which his pharisaic hearers are rejecting, will be taken and given to people who will produce the fruits of the kingdom (21:43). To attempt to control or defeat “this cornerstone” is disastrous (21:44); what they must do is repent and believe in Christ as the Son of God.
The chief priests and the Pharisees get the point (21:45). They want to arrest him, but they’re afraid of the crowds (21:46) who thought Jesus was a prophet.
All of us have been loaned a life. Our life is not given to us to keep; it is for all on loan. We are stewards. We are tenants of this life. And our lives are intended to produce fruit, fruit of honor and glory to God, fruit that he can taste and enjoy and that gives him pleasure as the owner and creator of this “vineyard” of his, that we have as tenants. This passage calls us to follow Jesus, to trust in God, and to give him the fruits of our lives. To give him our time. To give him our resources. To give him our talents. Because, really, it is his time, his resources, and his talents. We are mere tenants. He is the owner.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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