Are you talking about me?

Luke 20:9-19

9 He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”

17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “ ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

19 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. 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

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