Summary: We think we know what we want. But everything is temporary. Only Jesus is the eternal life you're looking for and need.
Jesus shares a story about a landowner who leases his vineyard.
After he leased his property the landowner moved away. When it was time to harvest the grapes the landowner sent three employees to pick up his share of the harvest. The tenants decided they didn't want to pay rent so they beat up one, killed another and stoned the last one. When the landowner heard about what happened he sent a large group of employees thinking that there was strength in numbers and demanded his fair share of the harvest. But the rebellious tenants killed every single employee that the landowner sent. Finally, the landowner decided he should send his son. He believed that his son would demand respect and would not be harmed. But he was wrong. His son was brutally murdered in a land grab attempt by the same tenants.
After telling this story, Jesus asks those who were listening a question. "What do you think the landowner is going to do to these tenants for killing his employees and his own son?"
Before we find out how his listeners answered this question, let's rewind the clock by about 30 hours.
We celebrate Palm Sunday as the Sunday Jesus entered Jerusalem as popular as any other human being who has ever entered that ancient city. Today is Palm Sunday. We celebrate today with the throngs of people who lined the streets of Jerusalem shouting “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in the highest heaven!”
This chaotic outpouring of the masses grabbed the attention of the bad guys in the Jesus narrative. The Saturday School teachers and the politically connected High Priest in Jerusalem saw this support for Jesus as a direct threat to their influence and power base. If the Caesar in Rome was told about this uprising in Jerusalem the political figures knew they would be replaced and probably executed for failing to keep the peace.
They believed that the most effective way to diffuse the popularity of Jesus was to discredit him in front of his followers in public. They tried this tactic several times before and always failed, but, this time, they thought they had his number. The followers of Jesus for the first time in his ministry were talking publicly about Jesus being the One. You know the One who would restore Jerusalem and the temple back to Israel. The One who would kick Rome out of Judea. There had been false messiahs before Jesus, and after, too, but, they couldn't heal the sick. Or raise the dead. Jesus was special. At least His massive gathering of followers thought so. He was the One. They were convinced. So the Pharisees, the High Priest and the Sanhedrin had to figure out a way to convince the crowd he was a fake.
If they failed Caesar would execute them. If Jesus won his followers would execute them. So with their lives on the line these bad guys went after Jesus credibility in public. "Who gave you the right, who gave you your authority?" They asked him.
If Jesus answered "God." According to Jewish law they could arrest Jesus on the spot for heresy. God didn't give His authority away to mere mortals. If Jesus said his authority came from any other source including himself, they could discredit him as a fake. They believed this was the best way to diffuse Jesus. With one question they could either have him arrested and held for trial or publicly humiliate him, either way, it would silence this troublemaker once and for all.
Now let's go back to the story of the landowner and the question Jesus asked as he concluded his parable. "What do you think the landowner is going to do to these tenants for killing his employees and his own son?"
The political figures who were trying to discredit Jesus knew immediately who Jesus was talking about. They knew that in this story the employees of the land owner were the prophets sent to the Israelite people who they harassed, beat up, stoned, killed and tortured. And now for the first time they also understood that Jesus was referring to himself as the son in this story. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the land owner was God and they were the wicked tenants. "What do you think God is going to do to those who killed his prophets and His own son?" They heard the question loud and clear and understood fully what Jesus meant.
But they refused to believe Him. Many still do.
Here's what I learn from this parable of Jesus. God is loving and patient with all of us.
Here's how I know God is loving and patient with me.