Jerusalem is bursting at the seams in AD 30 – full of Israelites who had come there to celebrate Passover week. Passover recalled BC 1400 when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and God’s judgment fell, on one fateful night, upon their slave-masters. Following their release Israel started their journey to the Promised Land – to the territory we know today as Israel.
But the history of the people of Israel in God’s Promised Land was a sorry story of departure from the LORD from about BC 950 onwards. In AD 30 Jesus knew that, for the good of Israel (and for the good of all human beings) he must set out the truth about Israel’s history and the AD 30 intentions of its authorities. It’s in bold above. It’s in the form of a parable, a parallel..
A few hours after Jesus spoke this parable to them, precisely what it forecast was carried out by them. When the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. The religious, political, legal and moneyed authorities arranged the death of Jesus.
What took place regarding Jesus’ clear statement in the parable: “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” In AD 70, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. Josephus, the first century historian (perhaps over-estimating), numbered those Israelites killed then by the Romans at 1,100,000. And Israel’s painful history since then is very well documented in Simon’s Schama’s “The Story of the Jews” (2013) and in Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “Jerusalem the Biography” (2012).
But the most mind-blowing thing is that not only was the LORD God wholly angry at the continuous sin of His chosen people but also loved (and loves) them - Israel - with amazing love. Luke (the same Luke who recorded Jesus’ parable in bold above) writes that, only seven weeks after Jesus was crucified, Peter, one of the 12 Israelite apostles of Jesus, addressed the crowds in Jerusalem with these words: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Luke continues: Now when they (those who crucified Jesus) heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”