9 Jesus went on to tell the people a story. “A man planted a vineyard,” he said. “He rented it out to some farmers. Then he went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a slave to the renters. They were supposed to give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the renters beat the slave. Then they sent him away with nothing. 11 So the man sent another slave. They beat that one and treated him badly. They also sent him away with nothing. 12 The man sent a third slave. The renters wounded him and threw him out. 13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I have a son, and I love him. I will send him. Maybe they will respect him.’ 14 “But when the renters saw the son, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the one who will receive all the owner’s property someday,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him. Then everything will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard. And they killed him. “What will the owner of the vineyard do to the renters? 16 He will come and kill them. He will give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “We hope this never happens!” 17 Jesus looked right at them and said, “Here is something I want you to explain the meaning of. It is written, “ ‘The stone the builders didn’t accept has become the most important stone of all.’ (Psalm 118:22) 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces. But the stone will crush anyone it falls on.” 19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest Jesus at once. They knew he had told that story against them. But they were afraid of the people.
I’m astounded. The teachers of religious law and the leading priests know who they are in the story (the evil tenants) and presumably they know who Jesus is and who the owner of the vineyard is. Yet their response to the story is to do exactly what Jesus said they would do: to try to seize him and ultimately put him to death.
I’m astounded that they seem to have no fear of God but they are held back by fear of the people. So they plotted in secret.
I’m intrigued that Luke knew what they did in secret. I wonder if some of them later became Christians. I’m struck by the irony that the death of Jesus that they plotted as evil became their salvation.
I’m astonished at God’s grace. And I’m astonished at His grace towards me.
It’s easy to shake my head in dismay at them, but how do I respond to criticism?
It’s very easy to become defensive: perhaps to hit back at my critic; perhaps to try to justify myself. But I’m not justified by a smart answer; I’m justified by Jesus’ death in my place. I don’t look good by hurting my accuser; I become better as God makes me a new creation, and slowly changes me to become more the image of Him.
Father, give me a humble heart to recognise when criticism is justified, and repent. And when criticism is not justified, give me the courage to find my significance in what you say about me.
Written by David Cornell