Matthew 21:33-41 [ESV]
33 “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. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 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.”
Dear God, one question I’m asking myself this morning that I’ve never asked before is, Why do we do it? As I look at this image of the two men beating and killing the son, I wonder about their motivation. It’s interesting that the artist drew them as being more in “Robin Hood” times than biblical times, but the question still remains: Why?
What do we think we will gain by kicking you out of our world and running it ourselves? Bringing it down to the personal level, what do I think I will gain by kicking you out of my life rather than living it under your authority? I suppose it comes down to instant gratification that ultimately kills vs. the idea that you might call me to delay my gratification or to never experience gratification at all. It’s easy to judge others and our society as a whole, but how am I doing with the vineyard of my own life that you have leased to me? When you come, do I embrace you or snuff you out?
I have been thinking about the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris yesterday. I know it is Easter week and a lot of people will make their once-a-year visit to church on Sunday, but I wonder how many more will be shaken by this sad tragedy. How many vineyard workers will be shocked into realizing that they have taken the master for granted. It makes me think of Congress standing on the capitol steps in September 2001 and singing “God Bless America” together. Will this shocking even that damaged something we have taken for granted for nearly 900 years remind us to worship you? Will you use this to call some of us home?
Father, remind me that all of this starts with me. I’m not here to judge anyone else. I’m not here to try and list the people I think have rejected your authority over their lives. I’m here to look in the mirror. I’m here to ask your forgiveness. I’m sorry for being a poor tenant and acting like the landowner instead. You are my God. This life I’m living is your life. Help me to be the steward of it that you need me to be.
In Jesus’s name I pray,