October 6 I Sunday
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe.” —Hebrews 1:1-2
Jesus tells a parable about a man who planted a vineyard. He rented it to some farmers and then went away. At harvest time, he sent a servant to collect his share of the fruit; presumably, the agreement was for a percentage of the fruit to belong to the owner. But these tenants attacked the servant and sent him away empty-handed. The owner sent another servant, whom the tenants also beat and treated shamefully. And he sent a third, who got wounded and cast out. Finally, the owner said, “What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him” (Luke 20:13). But when the tenants saw him, they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Then Jesus rhetorically asked, “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others” (Luke 20:15-16).
This parable is probably the easiest story to understand by those listening to Jesus. Those who knew their Old Testament scriptures would immediately gather that Jesus was talking about Israel, which is often described as God’s vineyard. Isaiah tells us, “The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines He delighted in. And He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress” (Isaiah 5:7). We also find this kind of imagery in the prophecies of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Hosea when they speak of Israel either as the vine or the vineyard of God.
The parallel between Isaiah’s allegory and Jesus’s parable was very obvious to the chief priests, elders and religious leaders listening to Him as they responded, “God forbid!” (Luke 20:16), rejecting the idea of God taking His blessing away from Israel and giving it to somebody else. We are told afterwards, “The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest Him immediately, because they knew He had spoken this parable against them” (Luke 20:19).
Jesus summarized the story of Israel from Abraham to Christ using this parable. Israel was set apart by God in order to produce fruit. He sent servant after servant of priests, kings and prophets but again and again, the people rejected God’s way, God’s Word and God’s purpose. The Bible is full of the relentless pursuit of God for His people. It makes us wonder, “...what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them?” (Psalm 8:4).
Prayer: Everlasting God, thank You for Your relentless pursuit, for Your patience and for Your love towards me. Praise You!