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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

4/27/10 Matthew 21:33-46 The Rights of the Owner and the Renters

33"Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 34When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35"The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said.
38"But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' 39So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40"Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?"
41"He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time."
42Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?
43"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." 45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.  (Mt. 21:33-46)

This scripture passage emphasizes the rights of the vineyard owner (adding to Mark- see yesterday's blog).  He planted the vineyard, cultivated it, protected it with a wall and watchtower, then rented it.  When it was abused, he went back and took it away from the bad renters. It is almost like Matthew, the former tax collector, remembered the emphasis on God's right for allegiance. Many times in the Old Testament it asks the rhetorical question- "does not the potter have the right to remake the clay?"  (Isa. 29:16; 41:25; 49:5; 64:8; Jer. 18:6). 
Yet Jesus gives another twist to this image of who is the maker and who has the right to the vineyard.  He says, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone."  Going with the parable, it means the renters made the wrong choice about how to run the vineyard.  What they tossed aside has become valuable.  Of course, Jesus is tossed aside- and crucified- but is shown as valuable in the resurrection.  Historically, the most valued person in Jesus' generation was the one who was rejected and crucified.  This teaches us to trust the Maker and not the Renters.  That is, we are called to trust God not those in human power and position of authority.
In our very secular time, many think there is no owner and the renters- those in human authority is all there is.  This passage calls us to think broader and bigger, and to trust in One who is much more powerful.

Prayer: Remake me Lord, into your image.  Help me to be a person who values you above all others. ("Have Thine Own Way Lord")

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