A Way of Destruction

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

Luke 20:9 He began to tell the people this parable: ‘A man planted a vineyard, and leased it to tenants, and went to another country for a long time.10When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants in order that they might give him his share of the produce of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11Next he sent another slave; that one also they beat and insulted and sent away empty-handed. 12And he sent yet a third; this one also they wounded and threw out. 13Then the owner of the vineyard said, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.” 14But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, “This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance may be ours.” 15So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.’ When they heard this, they said, ‘Heaven forbid!’17But he looked at them and said, ‘What then does this text mean:
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone”?
18Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’ 19When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.

We’re in danger, we Christians, of taking the edge off Jesus. We want Him to be our Savior and our Friend, but we often miss the uncomfortable reality that in order for God’s will to prevail, some fundamental things need to change. This parable, told during the last week of Jesus’ earthly life in Luke, is a reminder of just how much that change will upset the world as we know it. In this parable, people are killed, vineyards are destroyed and buildings are reduced to rubble.

What Jesus came to bring was not gentle, incremental and reassuring progress. He threatens everything we know about our world and the power structures in it. Not for no reason is the reaction of the tenants “Heaven forbid!”. This kind of change is scary, chaotic and dangerous.

If we are to follow Jesus, if we are to learn from the Master, if we are to be God’s people in this world, we need to be ready for things to get ugly. The next few days remind us that the radiant Resurrection we will celebrate on Sunday is purchased with degradation, betrayal, torture and death.

Today, ask God what you need to do to help prepare for “the stone that the builders rejected”. It may require courage and it may scare you to death. But when we do God’s will, we follow the One who went through death to bring Life.


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