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The vineyard owner and the tenants (1)

Jesus said (AD 30) “Hear another parable. There was a head of household who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and gave it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to receive 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, “These evil ones - he will with evil destroy them; and the vineyard - he will give out to other tenants who will give back to him the fruits in their seasons.” Matthew 21:33-41
Scarcely a day passes without one or more news reports of anti-Semitism in our dysfunctional world. Anti-Jewish actions. Why is that? Does the above extract from Matthew’s eye-witness biography of Jesus have anything to do with it? It was the last few days of Jesus’ life on earth. This good man who gave sight to the blind and healed the lame – would, within days, be executed as a criminal transgressor – executed by evildoers.

After reading Jesus’ parable above, think with me about the question which Jesus asked of the responsible Jerusalem authorities, “what will he do to those tenants?”

We know (1) from the records in Israel’s own National Archives that for centuries before Jesus came the Jews had failed to walk by faith in their LORD God Almighty and (2) from first-century eye-witness records that within days Jesus, Son of God, would be condemned to death by a Jewish court and then executed on the orders of the Roman Governor in Jerusalem. 

Jesus was, in effect, asking the Jerusalem authorities – those who were planning to kill him – what they thought his Father above would do in parallel circumstances. 

The Jerusalem authorities, as recorded by Matthew, who was also a Jew, themselves gave this reply to Jesus. “These evil ones - he will with evil destroy them; and the vineyard - he will give out to other tenants who will give back to him the fruits in their seasons.”

‘Love of the creature towards the Creator must include obedience or it is meaningless.’ (Francis Schaeffer, philosopher and writer, 1912-1984)
Nearly 20 centuries have passed since the Jewish authorities themselves gave that AD 30 answer.  What actually happened to those very same Jewish authorities? 

The answer to that is that, for the next 40 years until AD 70, some of them died. But those who lived until AD 70 – and stayed in Jerusalem until then – were evilly destroyed with evil. All of them. 

A major rebellion by Israel against the Roman Empire arose in determined power around AD 66. There were several different Jewish factions – all determined to overthrow Rome but all determined to overthrow one another. Massive killing of Roman soldiers occurred; massive killing of Jews occurred – by Rome and internally. In AD 70 Jerusalem was totally destroyed. Its Temple was utterly demolished. The place looked as though nothing had ever been there. No Jews were allowed to live there – for ever – by Roman decree. 

Various historical records (outside the Bible) show that many Jews became followers of the resurrected Jesus during the period AD 30 to AD 70. Where were they in AD 70? No doubt some of them had died. Others had been forced to live outside of Jerusalem, Judea and Israel – because their faith in Jesus was totally unacceptable to the Jerusalem authorities during those 40 years. Those who remained in the area, historians have discovered, fled at the time of the uprising mainly into the mountains of Galilee. They escaped the evil. 

The above parable (parallel) of Jesus is still troubling to human beings today in two ways. First, it has given rise to anti-Semitism. Second, it can be given a wider interpretation than merely being applicable to Israel and the Jews.

‘The Christian should resemble a fruit tree, not a Christmas tree.’ (John R W Stott, speaker and writer, 1921-2011)
Anti-Semitism? Absolutely and decidedly “No”. Please await next week’s Info. 

Wider interpretation? This “head of household” has given to you, to us all, our lives and the wonderful world around us with all its living things to enjoy. Have we given back to him any of its fruits? What should he do about it?

Sinner Syvret

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