On Tuesday of Easter Week, we find Jesus doing battle, confronting the religious leaders who could not see His true identity and who rejected His gospel of grace. Theirs was a self-important world ruled by self-determination and self-righteousness. Yet Jesus confronted their notion of self with strong teaching on authority…the authority of God and His authority as the Son of God. It was a lesson they needed. It is one we need as well.
TUESDAY, APRIL 7th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Luke 20:1 - 21:4
Focused Passage for Reflection - Luke 20:9-18
Reflecting on the Text:
Jesus was meek, but He was not weak. He knew the religious leaders' hearts and in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, He told a story that revealed them to the listening world. The details of the story bear repeating as they allow us to examine our view of authority…and our heart for the One who sits in authority over us.
Jesus began by telling of a man who planted a vineyard. The man was the rightful owner. He was the authority over the vineyard and over the tenants who leased it from him. So after being gone for a time, the owner sent his servant back, that he might receive his due portion.
Wanting no part of an owner who would exercise authority over them, the wicked, self-focused tenants abused the servant. They beat the messenger and sent him away. This happened, not once, but three times. It was Jesus’ way of illustrating how the people had long rejected the prophets of the Lord.
So in due time, the owner sent his son to collect. Surely the tenants wouldn’t be so wicked as to reject the son. But yes. This was their ultimate rejection, all in an attempt to assert themselves over a vineyard that was never theirs in the first place. They fooled themselves into thinking they could create an authority structure of their own.
To the shock of the religious leaders, Jesus closed out the story by bringing it to a prophetic conclusion. The owner would come and destroy those tenants, giving the vineyard to others. Then with a powerful gaze, Jesus looked directly at them and cited Psalm 118:22: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” He cited this Messianic Psalm and in context declared Himself the cornerstone, upon which all imposters would be crushed. He might have been meek, but He certainly was not weak!
On one hand, the parable was a message to the religious leaders of that day...and the church leaders of our day. They were meant to be stewards of the Kingdom of God. But importantly, it is God’s Kingdom they were meant to steward. So religious leaders then, and church leaders now, are meant to point the people of God (and themselves) to the rightful King.
On the other hand, the parable is a message for all of us. It is meant, not merely to remind them of the call to submit to God’s authority, but for us to do likewise. For some of us, that may sound harsh, but we can not separate the message from the Messenger. During this Easter week, we will do well to remember that submission to authority is a joyful thing when our authority is God the Father, and we are His children.
You see, grace does not diminish authority, and authority does not diminish grace. His grace is His to give because His authority is absolute. Authority informs grace, and grace informs authority. We submit to His authority, and we receive His grace. The religious leaders did neither, and the “vineyard” was taken from them. Let it not be said of us.
Questions for personal reflection:
In what ways have you been burdened by the “wicked tenants?” In what ways can you relate to them?
How does this passage call you to repentance over your view of the Father’s authority?
How does this strong word from Jesus help you to see His grace in a new light?