There is much to glean from Jesus’ conversations with the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests and teachers of the law. He was not gentle with this bunch.
He was exposing their hypocrisy, piety and utter cluelessness. They were supposed to be experts about God, but could not recognize Him in the flesh. In fact, He was a threat to their way of life, because they had turned out to be wrong and could not admit it.
“The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them.” (19)
They were the evil vine-growers (Israel is often allegorized as a vineyard), killing the slaves (prophets), and now scheming to kill the son.
“‘What, then, will the owner of the Vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy the vine-growers and will give the Vineyard to others.’ When they heard it, they said, ‘May never be!'” (15b-16)
Instead of taking this moment to humble themselves and repent, they rally all the more to get Jesus arrested. Questions about taxes and questions about resurrection marriages, which are so outside the point, they fall flat.
As someone who “grew up in the church”, this convicts me regularly. I always need to check myself for how I tend toward the religious of that time.
Humility, humility, humility.
It’s importance cannot be overstated. I believe it’s possible to have full assurance of faith while also maintaining the reality: I could be totally wrong at any theological turn. My finiteness means I will never have perfect theology. However, my soul remains at peace; I am His child, He has given me a heart of flesh and put His Spirit inside me. Maybe I’ll never have the words to express how I know those things, but I’m sure many of you get what I mean. “There are no words” for all the best things in life.
How do we present Christ to our neighbors? Do we stick up our noses, deciding they’re not worthy of the gospel? Do we slam the door to the kingdom in their faces because they’re “lost causes”? Do we parade around in our devout, squeaky clean, places of honor so everyone can know what #blessed looks like?
“These will receive greater condemnation.” (47b)
Lord, I repent! Teach me to be more like you!