Full disclosure, I am a bit of a wuss; not much of a fighter and a chronic avoider of conflict. I am working on it. For example, I recently almost complained about an issue with my food at a restaurant, but I ended up getting my wife to do it for me… baby steps. Well, on the Tuesday of passion week, Jesus was no wuss. He went right after the religious leaders of the day. He was so critical of the religious leaders’ current state that at the end of the day on Tuesday, they were left trying to figure out a way to kill this man from Nazareth (Luke 22:2).
So, what did Jesus say that made the religious leaders so angry?
After exposing their impure motives and refusing to answer their questions, He told a parable about some farmers (Luke 20:9-16). The story involves a landowner (God) who planted a vineyard and then rented his land out to some farmers (religious leaders) who were to take care of it. When it came time to harvest, the owner sent a servant to collect part of the yield. Rather than give the servant his portion, the farmers beat him and sent him away empty handed. In response, the owner sent two more servants, but both were beaten and sent back with nothing. Finally, the owner sends his firstborn son, whom he loves, to collect the fruit, but rather than receive him with gratitude and give him what is due, the farmers conspire to kill the owner's beloved son.
Jesus concluded this parable by saying, “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to the farmers? He will come and kill those farmers and give the vineyard to others” (Luke 20:15-16). Yep, those right there are fighting words. And yet, what Jesus is doing with His final parable is not just exposing the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, but laying out God’s grand plan to save humanity.
God, the owner and creator of the vineyard, has given humanity the privilege of being tenants and farmers of His creation. This was the call He placed upon Adam and Eve, and yet humanity has failed to live out our calling. Throughout our failure, God has sent countless servants to correct and reform His people. Yet the story of the prophets and messengers of God is one of being ignored, beaten, and sent away. Finally, God sent His firstborn, beloved son, and yet rather than receive Him, His people killed Him. In doing so, God made a way for others to enter the vineyard and farm the land faithfully. The last parable told by Jesus is not just a story to highlight the corruption of the religious leaders, it’s the story of redemption.
This means that on Tuesday morning, when Jesus woke up, He had the horrors of Friday on His mind. He knew where this confrontation with the religious leaders was going to take Him. He was going to be killed. Yet, He wavered not, He didn’t avoid the conflict, and He pressed on so that He could offer the vineyard to others.
If you are a Christian, you are the ‘others’ that Jesus was referring to in His parable. So may this thought encourage you today. Roughly 2000 years ago, on a relatively obscure Tuesday in the middle east, Jesus, the beloved son of God, knowing full well what awaited Him on Friday, moved forward with the plan that makes it possible for people like you and me to not just enjoy God’s vineyard, but enjoy Him forever.