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The vineyard owner and the tenants (2)

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 – after they killed the Son. 

‘Do you think that you deserve forgiveness? If you do, you are not a Christian.’ (D Martyn Lloyd Jones, speaker, 1899-1981)
Those 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.”

Arising from this Jewish endorsement of the judgment of the LORD God which should fall on them, it is apparent that some – even some identified by them and others as being “Christians” - have been anti-Semitic. But – and this is one of the biggest buts in world history - the mind-blowing fact is that, despite the LORD God being angry at the continuous sin of His chosen people, the LORD God is in no way anti-Semitic and Christians should all know that.

How so? Well, within weeks of Jesus’ crucifixion and rising again, Peter, one of the 12 Jewish apostles of Jesus, spoke to the crowds in Jerusalem. It’s recorded in a first-century book written by a doctor named Luke which goes under the title “The Acts of the Apostles (of Jesus)”.

He writes that Peter, there in Jerusalem a little over seven weeks from Jesus’ death and resurrection, said to the crowds there, “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 continued in this way. Now when they 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, “Change your minds 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.” Anti-Semitism? Persecution of Jews? Not when the Jesus who was killed by them in Jerusalem himself freely offers every one of them forgiveness of all that was past, including his own murder. 

‘If God were not willing to forgive sin, heaven would be empty.’ (Anon.)
Peter added to his AD 30 speech in Jerusalem these words which (as you will notice when you read them) apply not only to Jews but also to all human beings. “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.” His closing words were, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

Jesus asked, “When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” What is your answer?

Sinner Syvret

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