Monday, September 26, 2011

Jesus, are you talking to me? Matthew 21:33-43

There's no clearer point of conflict between Jesus and the religious establishment than in the temple the week before his death. Jesus overturned tables and confronted the money changes. The high-priest and elders were attune to his presence asking for answers. The wanted to know what authority Jesus had to act Matthew 21:23. Jesus answered their question with 3 parables questioning their authority.

first: two sons only one of whom did his fathers will Matthew 21:28-32
second: tenants who dishonored the land owner Matthew 21:33-43
third: about the wedding feast where the invited didn't come and the king sought out many others to come in their place, but one who came was sent out Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus second parable Matthew 21:33-39 veiled the names but not the biting words. Imagine a landowner who isn't paid by his tenants. What would he do? He sent servants to collect what was owed. The tenants beat one and killed another. What would he do next? The landowner chose to send his son believing that the tennant might respect his son. But they siezed the son and killed him believing they'd get his inheritence.

After the resurrection we realize what all Jesus meant. We see who was who and what happened; but before the cross the words bit hard into the chief priests and the elders.

Jesus' words can bite right into a person. He came to show us how to love; but he also came to change us so that we would act out of love. His stories engage us at the deepest levels of our human nature exposing the sin and contempt beneath the surface. Jesus called out the leaders not by name but by identifying their sin. They had no one to blame and no place to hide. He was implicating someone who acted just like them in the death of prophets and the misuse of God's gifts.

The chief priest and the elders wanted to silence him, but they didn't dare for fear of the crowd Matthew 21:25-26 Matthew 21:46. And Jesus taught as a prophet almost daring those in power to conspire against him. And they did, and he died, and he rose. This is the unspoken part of the parable. Yes the tenants had their way and killed the son, but the tenants didn't win through violence, the son of landowner came back from the dead to redeem what what lost not through violence and death but through new life. AMEN.

1 comment:

Susan said...

He certainly is talking to me. Some days I hear Him so clearly, telling me to 'zig' when all I do is keep 'zagging'. The distractions are not always so loud, sometimes they are very quiet.
The tenents, to me, represent the people in life that try to drag me away from Him, for whatever reason. They believe their wickedness is strength. But then I pray for them; shame them and they find out where the real Strength is. When Jesus said, "Forgive them for they know not what they do.", He shamed all of them.
God bless you, and keep up the good work!