No first-century Jew would have needed to have been told that the owner stood for God, the farmers for Israel, and the messengers for the prophets. Jesus understood himself to be the rightful king to his father’s tenants. They were doing all they could to not lose the vineyard they believed they deserved. Israel was given the task of tending the vineyard and they have failed to do so. How have they failed? This question goes back to the Garden, where Adam was called to be co-gardeners with God. They were to be a type of “New Adam” in creation to partner with God to bring the creation back to fulness as God intends it to be. This is done through righting the injustices around them and spreading God’s grace and love to everyone. Instead, they wanted to keep God’s grace and love for themselves. So much so, they are willing to kill God in the flesh when he comes to check on the vineyard. It says that God will destroy the workers in the vineyard who kill his son. This seems harsh but which is worse, to remove the barriers that are keeping God’s grace and love from others or allowing those barriers to remain and continue to let people live without God’s grace and love. God has a mission and his mission has a chosen people. What happens when we’re no longer focused on God’s mission for the church?
In what ways do you see people using their religion to protect their own privileged position? When you read through the ministry of Jesus, what does it look like for the church (the body of Christ) to shine light into the world? What does sharing God’s grace and love look like to you?