Don’t Reject the Son

Posted: June 9, 2014 in Mark

Mark 12:1-12, “Don’t Reject the Son”

The Sanhedrin had already been looking for a way to arrest Jesus.  They had taken notice of the way Jesus arrived in Jerusalem (as seen in Luke’s account).  They had been exposed as crooks when Jesus cleansed the temple.  They had been rebuffed by Jesus when they tried to question and undermine His authority.  It was only Tuesday, and they had been defeated by Jesus three times in three days.  They were supposed to be the most powerful men in Jerusalem (apart from the Romans), and yet they couldn’t do a single thing against this one Man, because they feared the people.  The masses were listening to Him, and that was something they could not afford.

Of course, Jesus isn’t blind to any of this.  He understands well that the Jewish leadership is rejecting Him, and that this is only the beginning.  In just a few days’ time, the coalition of priests, scribes, elders, and Pharisees will find a way around their fear of the people.  A traitor would turn Jesus over to them, and they won’t be in danger as they arrest Him.  They will take Him, beat Him, humiliate Him, and turn Him over to the Romans to be crucified.  Jesus had always known that to be the case, and He had prophesied it at least three different time to His disciples.

This was the plan of God.  This was the very reason Jesus came into the world.  He had to be rejected and killed if He was to become the substitute for the sin of mankind.  He had to die if He was going to rise from the grave.  The glorious work of God would change a tragedy into a victory, as the Rejected King becomes the Risen King.

So with all that in mind, are the Jews still to blame?  If this was the sovereign, unchanging plan of God, can the Jews still be punished by God for the role they played?

In a word: yes.  God’s plan is going to be fulfilled perfectly, but none of that ever counteracts the free will of man.  Mankind always has free-will.  The Jews sinned when they rejected their Messiah King, and they would bear the full weight of their sin.  They rejected the Son of God, and thus God would reject them.

Beware that you don’t reject Jesus!  The stakes are far too high.

Mark 12:1–12
1 Then He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country.

  1. Before we get too far, please note the plural “parables.”  Although at this time in Jesus’ life, Mark and Luke only record this one, Matthew actually records three.  It’s a quick reminder that the gospel accounts (and the Bible in general) are not transcripts of everything Jesus said and did.   As John wrote, there wouldn’t be enough books in the world to contain all of that information. What we DO have, we have for a reason.  This is what God the Holy Spirit preserved for us, so we had better pay close attention!
  2. The background of the vineyard that Jesus describes would have been fairly common at the time.  There were many wealthy landowners that did not personally tend their own land.  Instead, they would lease the land to tenant farmers, allowing the tenants to share in the crops that were grown.  The landowner might live far away, but the deed of the land was still his.  In theory, it could work out to be a nice deal for everyone involved.  The landowner would have his field and crops tended, and the farmers would be able to live off the land, while not incurring many of the costs for doing so.
  3. Not only was the economic system described in the parable familiar to those listening to Jesus, but so was the theological symbolism.  Remember that the context between 11:33-12:1 has not changed.  There were no verse numbers or chapter breaks in the original writing, so we need to think of 11-12 as one continual event.  When Mark writes, “Then He began to speak to them in parables,” who are the “them”?  The chief priests, scribes, and elders from 11:27-33.  No doubt others were listening, but Jesus’ direct intended audience for the parable is the Jewish leadership (including the Pharisees, per Matthew).  These were the theological elite.  If Jesus made a reference to OT prophecy, there is no doubt they would have picked up on it.  And that’s exactly what Jesus did.
  4. The description of the vineyard is a direct reference to Isaiah 5:1-7.  The similarities ought to be obvious.  There is a vineyard that was prepared, planted for the glory of God and His beloved (Son).  There are the details of the tower and winepress.  There was one result expected by God, but another result that actually came to be. The major difference between Isaiah 5 & Mark 12 is that in Isaiah, God shows Israel to be the graves and vine.  The grapes had gone bad, and thus needed to be destroyed and judged.  This had plainly been a reference to God’s judgment upon the idolatrous nation via the Assyrians and Babylonians.  Of course, by the time of Jesus, historically speaking that time had passed and the nation had re-gathered.  No doubt the priests, scribes, elders, and Pharisees all saw themselves as part of a restored vineyard of God.  They were helping care for what God had restored in His grace.  How could Isaiah 5 apply to them?  That’s exactly what Jesus is going to show them.
  5. Note in all of this that it is God who did the work.  It was the landowner who prepared the field, built the building, etc.  He had done 100% of the work.  The farmers weren’t asked to be anything, except stewards.  They were to care for what God had already accomplished.

2 Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers. 3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.

  1. Now that the parallel with Isaiah 5 is established, Jesus surely has their attention.  This is where the story changes.  Again culturally speaking, vs. 2 only states what was expected.  The landowner who lived far away sent a slave to collect his share of the fruit from the tenant farmers.  This was merely what was due him as an owner; there was no act of oppression or injustice in the slightest.  Yet the owner’s slave is met with violence.  The tenant farmers rebelled, and they refused to give him anything, beating him up.  He is sent away with his life, and the implication is that is about all he is sent away with.

4 Again he sent them another servant, and at him they threw stones, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. 5 And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many others, beating some and killing some.

  1. The beating of the first servant was only the beginning.  The landowner continued to send slaves, and they each met similar fates.  The violence towards them escalated moving from assault to attempted murder to murder.  The slaves were abused and humiliated by the tenant farmers.  Keep in mind that these slaves had done nothing wrong.  Like the tenant farmers, they also were servants of the landowner.  They simply had a different role.  In essence, the farmers were attacking men just like themselves, and they didn’t care how many they had to beat or kill in the process.
  2. Notice what has not been said thus far: any act of retribution by the owner.  Countless servants have been sent and rejected, many of them killed by the traitorous farmers.  Where are the police?  Where is the owner and his army?  There has been incredible restraint shown on the part of the landowner by this point.  He had the legal right to come in retribution after the very first servant was rejected, but instead he sent man after man in a merciful attempt to reason with these farmers. 
  3. So again, remember that the priests & others listening to Jesus would have immediately recognized the picture of the vineyard from Isaiah 5, and would have readily seen themselves as the caretakers of God’s revived vineyard among the Jewish nation.  By this point, what has Jesus plainly described?  Their own violence and rebellion against God.  No doubt that humanly speaking, this parable seems to break down.  Any human landowner would have come in violent judgment after the initial rebellion, if not the very first instance.  Certainly there would not be “many others” all sent by the owner & rejected.  But humans are not like God.  God reaches out to His people time & time again.  When God brings His judgment, none are able to stand against it.  God gives people every single opportunity possible to repent before He acts, and that’s what He did with the Jews.  The servants/slaves that were sent by the landowner plainly represent the prophets that were sent by God to His people, calling them to repentance, and they were all rejected – some with much violence.  Jeremiah had been famously rejected by the Jewish leadership, sometimes put in the stocks, sometimes thrown into prison.  More recently, John the Baptist had been rejected.  It may have been Herod that killed John, but the Jews had done nothing to protect him or try to free him.  No doubt the message that John preached had been rejected by the Jews – they were doing nothing in repentance, nor to prepare themselves for the coming of the Messiah King.  Apparently, what the Jews did with a few of the prophets we know of from the Scriptures, they did with many more.  What Jesus accuses them of indirectly in the parable, He will state much more directly in His lengthy condemnation of the Pharisees.  Matthew 23:29–31, "(29) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, (30) and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ (31) “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets." []  This is what the Jewish leaders had always done in their rejection of the Lord, and this is what they would continue to do, even after Jesus rose from the dead.  More prophets and servants of God would be sent as the disciples went out in their evangelistic mission – and they would also be met with persecution as they were rejected.
    1. With all of that in mind, think of the restraint of God. He could have wiped them out at their first rebellion, but did not.  The entire account of the exodus from Egypt is one of God restraining His hand of judgment time & time again, as He showers His people with mercy.  They had grumbled against Moses and rebelled against the plan of God before the very first plagues began, and yet God still freed them.  They balked at the Red Sea, but God still took them through.  They made a golden calf at the very moment Moses was receiving the law of God upon Mt. Sinai, and God restrained Himself from wiping them out & starting all over again.  And that’s not even beginning to speak of the wilderness wandering, the time of the judges & kings, and so on.  God had every right to judge His people, yet He restrained Himself until it was absolutely necessary.  Yet when it was necessary, God did it.  He had done it once through the Babylonians, and He would do it again through the Romans.
  4. That’s all with the Jews, which is the primary context of Jesus.  Yet keep in mind that the Jews were not the only ones who rejected the merciful outreach of God.  We as Gentiles ought not to get too cocky here.  God had reached out in countless ways to the Gentiles, and we rejected Him as well.  It’s not just a single nation that rejects God; it’s the entire human race.  That has been the history of mankind from the opening chapters of Genesis onward.  Adam sinned in the garden – Cain sinned just outside of it – the peoples of the world fell into debauchery & rejected the preaching of Noah – after repopulating the earth, men rebelled again at the tower of Babel, and the list could go on and on.  It’s not that God stopped reaching out to the Gentiles once the Jewish nation was born.  The rest of the world always had the witness of creation and our conscience, but there were many instances of public displays of the power of God: the exodus of the Hebrews out of Egyptian slavery being one of the most visible (and one of which the nations of the world had taken notice).  Yet the nations still rejected God – just as they would when the gospel went forth.  Paul was persecuted by Gentiles just as much as he was by Jews, enduring stonings & imprisonments many times.  Today, Christians around the world are routinely rejected and persecuted in Gentile lands, and God continues to reach out to the world with the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ, mercifully restraining His hand of judgment.  And it is indeed the mercy of God that is the only thing that stops the world from experiencing His judgment!  He already poured out His judgment once upon the world in the flood of Noah, promising never to do it again by water – but there will come a time when worldwide judgment will come again by fire.  What’s the only thing that stops it?  The mercy of God.  He is giving every person every opportunity possible to come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
    1. What is true for humanity as a whole is also true for men and women as individuals.  You may or may not live until the moment that Jesus returns to earth in judgment, but there is no doubt you WILL face the Lord one day to be judged.  It is appointed to man once to die, and then face the judgment (Heb 9:27).  Every day that passes right now is an extension of the merciful restraint of God.  He could have judged us unto death with the very first sin we ever committed…and we commit dozens of sin every single day!  Yet He has restrained His judgment this far.  To you who have not yet responded to the mercy of God, why wait any longer?  This is the opportunity you have, and you are not guaranteed another!
  5. Of course the rejection from the Jews did not stop with the prophets.  There was one more they would reject: someone far more important than everyone else who had come before, or would come after.  Jesus continues His parable in vs. 6…

6 Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

  1. This was the landowner’s last outreach to the rebellious farmers.  The slaves had been rejected, but although they represented the owner, they did not have the power and authority of the owner.  His son, however, would.  His son would represent the landowner in a way that the servants never could.  The hope of the landowner was that the farmers would finally come to their senses and receive the son that was beloved of the owner.
  2. Do note that the son was “beloved” of the owner.  The landowner didn’t send his least; he sent his best.  He sent the one person that he valued most.  This was not a punishment for the son; this was the owner putting forth his very best in a glorious mission.  He loved his son in a way that was completely set apart from anyone else that had been introduced in the story.  Obviously Jesus didn’t use this description by accident.  The Son is truly beloved of the Father.  This was the same wording that God the Father used of Jesus at His baptism & transfiguration: “This is My beloved Son” – or as it could be translated, “This is My Son, My beloved one.” (Mk 9:7)  Jesus is set apart from everyone and everything else because He is different from everything else.  Jesus is not part of creation because Jesus is not created; He is the Creator.  Jesus is God, and yet He is also beloved by God.  God the Son is just as much God as is God the Father – yet they are two distinct Persons within the Godhead.  There is a relationship between them (just like there is with God the Spirit).  This all is part of the mystery that we describe as the Trinity: 1 God eternally revealed in 3 Persons.  Our minds have difficulty comprehending how it all works, but we are given glimpses of it – some of which we see here.  There is relationship between the members of the Trinity.  The Father loves the Son.  We might say we love ourselves (some might love themselves far too much!), but we would never say that we are our own beloved…that description only makes sense when you’re speaking of someone else.  God the Father is not His own beloved; His Son is His beloved.  The Father values and loves the Son more than anyone or anything else in existence.
    1. Now with that in mind, think of what the Father did for us.  John 3:16–17, "(16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." []  We are not the uniquely beloved of God, but there is no doubt we ARE beloved of Him!  We are beloved of God, called to be saints (Rom 1:7) – made to be that way through the incredible sacrifice of THE beloved One of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.  God loved us so much that He sent the One He loved more than anything else in all of creation to come and be our sacrifice and our salvation.  He sent His beloved One for you & me.
  3. Question: was the landowner naïve?  Surely he had no reasonable expectation for the son to be received in humble repentance.  Wasn’t he just sending his son to his death?  We need to remember that this is a parable: a fictional story with a theological point to make.  If this was an actual human making this decision, we would think this to be the height of foolishness – but we’re not talking about humans, we’re talking about God.  No, God is not naïve.  Yes, God knew exactly what was going to happen with each of the prophets He sent to the Jews.  Yes, God knew exactly what was going to happen with His beloved Son that He sent to the Jews.  He knew that He would be sending Jesus to His death – this had been foreordained from before the foundations of the earth.  This was part of His marvelous plan (which we’ll look at in a minute).  Yet none of that changes the fact that this was sin and rebellion on the part of the Jews.  The Jews would bear the full weight of their responsibility for rejecting the Son, just like they would for rejecting all of the prophets who came before Him.  Their rejection was known by God, but it was not the fault of God.  They should have received His Son, but they did not.

7 But those vinedressers said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard.

  1. This is the height of foolishness on the part of the farmers!  Instead of receiving the son with all the authority of his father, they conspire to murder him in a vain attempt to claim ownership of the land for themselves.  They implication is that they either thought the landowner to be dead, or to be incredibly weak, unable to put up a fight or to legally defend his claim of ownership.  So they treated the son just as they had treated the previous servants: violently, disgracefully, and to the death.
  2. Of course, this had not yet happened between the Jewish leadership and Jesus, but this is exactly what would take place in a matter of days.  Jesus is prophesying to them what would happen in the next 48 hours.  Just as the Jews had rejected God’s previous outreach to them via the prophets, they would reject the premier outreach of God’s Son, and they would send Him to a humiliating death.
  3. BTW – some have seen Jesus’ description of the son being cast “out of the vineyard” as a reference to Jesus being crucified outside the city, but that’s likely stretching the parable too much.  Neither Matthew nor Luke mention this aspect in their telling of the parable, and that doesn’t seem to be the main point anyway.  The casting out doesn’t take place until after the killing.  It would seem to be a description of the disgraceful way that the tenant farmers treat the corpse of the dead son.  Remember that this is a parable; not an allegory.  Jesus is describing a scene, and not every aspect of it has a direct correlation to something in history.  Obviously Jesus’ corpse was not treated shamefully, though He was treated shamefully in the hours leading up to the cross.  But the main point Jesus made is plain: the Son was rejected by the Jewish leadership.  Those who were supposed to be stewards of the things of God rebelled and tried to steal things for themselves, and they commit the most heinous crime imaginable in the process.

9 “Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard to others.

  1. By this point, the mercies of the landowner are at an end.  He had the right to come in judgment after the very first act of rebellion, but had restrained his hand as long as possible.  But no more.  With the murder of his son, the father came in furious retribution, dealing out what was the righteous judgment on the traitors.  What had been previously entrusted to them would be given to others.  What the tenant farmers had hoped to steal for themselves, they ended up losing entirely, and lost their lives as well.
  2. The point is simple: the Jewish leadership would be judged.  The chief priests, scribes, elders, and Pharisees had been given the responsibility of being stewards of God’s people.  Yet they had rebelled against God by rejecting His prophets, and they were in the process of rejecting His Son.  They would indeed reject Him unto death, and when they did, they could be assured of God’s furious vengeance poured out upon them.  When would it come?  In barely 40 years.  Jesus seems to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD, when the temple was destroyed and the bloodshed was immense.  The Romans brought the army, but God brought the Romans.  The rejection of God’s Son was the final act of rebellion, and God waited just long enough to birth, establish, and send out the Church before bringing His righteous vengeance down upon Jerusalem.  The mission of stewardship that had once belonged to the Jewish leadership now belonged to the Church as the Church has the responsibility of teaching the Scriptures and leading others into the worship of God.
    1. The mercies of God are immense, but eventually the mercies of God come to an end.  Don’t wait until it’s too late!
  3. There’s an interesting difference between Matthew’s version of the parable & that of Mark & Luke.  Mark & Luke both record Jesus asking and answering the question Himself; Matthew only shows Jesus asking the question, while those who listened to Him answered it.  Although the priests and Pharisees obviously knew who Jesus was talking about throughout the parable, they also well understood what the righteous response from God ought to be towards them.  They may not have liked what Jesus was saying, but they could not deny the justice of it.
    1. The same thing will happen with people as they face the judgment of God in eternity.  No doubt many will still be shaking their fists at God in rebellion as they are cast away from His presence, but no one will be able to question the justice of God.  His judgments are righteous, perfectly so.

10 Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. 11 This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

  1. Jesus brings the application home, showing the interpretation of the parable from the OT Scripture.  The rejected son of the parable was like the rejected stone of the psalms – it was the most important of all, yet rejected by those who ought to have recognized it and received it.  A capstone/cornerstone was incredibly important in ancient mason work & construction.  It was the stone which set the standard for the rest of the building.  As a cornerstone, the foundation rested upon it.  As a capstone, the entire weight of an arch rested upon it.  Experienced builders would search diligently for the right stone, they would shape it just right, and take every precaution with it…if the capstone or cornerstone failed, the whole building project was in danger.  Yet according to the psalm (and seen in the parable) that which was most important was willfully discarded – not ignored; but thrown away by the very people who ought to have recognized it for what it was.  Of all people in Judea, the ones who ought to have recognized the Messiah were the priests, scribes, elders, and Pharisees – but they were the ones who willfully turned away and discarded the merciful outreach of God to them.
  2. The actual psalm Jesus quotes would have been extremely familiar in the ears of those listening.  Other quotations of it had just rung out in the city streets only a couple of days prior.  Psalm 118:22–26, "(22) The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. (23) This was the LORD’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. (24) This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (25) Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. (26) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD." []  This was the same psalm proclaimed on Palm Sunday: “Hosanna! Save now!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  Can you imagine what went through the minds of the priests & scribes as they thought back to what they heard earlier?  All of it would have been coming together: the Messiah was proclaimed as He rode into Jerusalem upon a donkey (exactly according to prophecy) – the people proclaimed His praises, calling out to Him to save, and blessing Him that He came in the name of the Lord – the priests themselves had thus far resisted the potential Messiah, and they were rejecting Him – to which Jesus told them they would reject Him unto death, but yet God’s plan was being fulfilled and that He would be glorified.  All of this would have been sinking into the minds and hearts of the priests & others as they realized the exact implications of what Jesus was saying: THEY were the ones spoken of in prophecy.  They were the ones who would reject the true Messiah of God.  If what Jesus was saying was true, they were in dire trouble.  After all, they were about to kill the Son of God. 
    1. What ought to have been their response?  Immediate humility & repentance!  The moment they recognized what Jesus was saying, they ought to have dropped to their knees and asked God for forgiveness and help.  And no doubt, God would have given it!  God’s desire is that all would come to repentance.  Jesus was standing right in front of them; they had the opportunity right then & there to humble themselves in faith.  Instead, they doubled down in their rejection.
    2. Don’t harden your heart to the calling of God!  When you understand that God is giving you an opportunity to repent, then do it.  That’s true for the person first coming to faith in Christ, and that’s true for all of us who have been walking with Christ for years.  Too often, we make the mistake of thinking that the only people who need to respond to the call of God to change are those who are first coming to faith.  As if once we’ve been born again, we never need to respond to God again.  Perish the thought!  We of all people, ought to be more prepared to answer to the prompting of the Holy Spirit than anyone.  After all, now we not only have the conviction of the Holy Spirit from outside, but from inside as well as He indwells our hearts.  When God moves upon us to repent from ongoing sin – or to renew our commitment to Jesus – or to cry out to Him for revival – or to seek the renewed filling of the Holy Spirit – or whatever – we need to do it right then & there!  Christians who harden themselves to the prompting of God are Christians rebelling against the call of our King.  That’s not a road we want to start upon!  The more we do it, the easier it will become.
  3. Obviously the main idea in the parable is one of rejection: how the tenant farmers rejected the landowner, his slaves, and his son – and thus how the Jewish leadership rejected God, His prophets, and His Son the Messiah.  Yet there’s something else that comes out in the psalm.  It’s not just the negative rejection by the builders, but the positive work of God among it all. “This was the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”  The rejection of Jesus is an act of treasonous sin and rebellion.  It’s something of which the Jews were guilty, and of which we’re ALL guilty because all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  But what we intended for evil, God made into good.  The rejection of the Messiah is exactly what God used to bring about our salvation.  This is the marvelous plan of God at work, set in place before the foundation of the world. What was included in it all?
    1. The rejection of the Son.  As we’ve seen earlier, the rejection of the Messiah was indeed sin – and it is sin for which the Jewish leadership bore their full responsibility.  But there is no doubt that this was the “doing” and plan of God.  As Isaiah wrote, it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, He has put Him to grief (Isa 53:10).  Jesus had to be rejected if He was going to serve as a sacrifice for our sin.  Although Jesus went to the cross willingly, He could not have placed Himself there & driven the nails through His own hands and feet (so to speak).  That would have been suicide; not a sacrifice.  He had to be put there by the people, and that would only happen if they rejected Him as their King.  The rejection of the Son is the mode by which the Son of God would die, and it is His death that is the only way God could provide our salvation.
    2. The importance of the Son. The Person of Jesus is absolutely essential to the plan of salvation.  He is the “chief cornerstone” – there can be no salvation apart from Him.  He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one can come to the Father except through Him. (Jn 14:6).  God did not provide many ways to salvation; He provided one.  If there could be other ways, then the Father would never have sent His Son.  Just as the parable showed, if the messages of the prophets/servants had been sufficient, the son would never have been sent.  If we were to be saved at all, then the Son of God had to personally come and rescue us.  There is no other name given among men by which we must be saved, other than that of the Lord Jesus.
    3. The exaltation of the Son.  Jesus was not only rejected; He has “become” something far greater.  Although the parable of the vinedressers ends with rejection and judgment, the psalm goes on to speak of glory and exaltation.  The work of Jesus does not end with the cross; it goes on to resurrection.  It goes on to ascension.  It continues into eternity.  This is also the doing of God; this is His work, that we might have definitive proof that His only begotten beloved Son has been sent on our behalf.  The resurrection is the key to it all.
    4. All of it is the marvelous plan of God!  It is marvelous whether or not we see it – but do YOU see it? “It is marvelous in our eyes.”  Have you recognized the plan of God for what it is?  Are you amazed at the wonder of it all?  Have you responded to what God has done for you in Jesus?

12 And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.

  1. Yet again the priests, scribes, and others rebel against Jesus.  They had understood perfectly what Jesus had been saying to them, and they hated it.  They would have arrested Him that very moment if they thought they could do it without endangering themselves.  Jesus’ parable hadn’t changed their minds one bit, even after knowing the judgment of God that awaited them. 
  2. They didn’t arrest Him yet – the timing wasn’t right.  Just as they had experienced every time before, they “feared” the people (rather than God), and they decided to bide their time and leave.  They would seem to go back into a group and strategize.  They will be back in various attempts to discredit Jesus…and every time will fail.

There had been no doubt as to what was going on – either on the part of the Jewish leadership, or that of Jesus.  The Jews had consistently rejected the warnings of God, and they had rebelled against His merciful outreach to them, and Jesus made this abundantly clear in the parable.  They were about to reject the last & most amazing outreach of all: that of God’s very own beloved Son.  The priests and others willingly chose their path of rejection, but none of it was a surprise to God.  This had been His plan from the beginning, and He had something even more marvelous in store: the salvation of Jesus extended to all the world.

Yet all of this begs a question: why would anyone knowingly and willingly reject the merciful outreach of God towards him/her?  If we recognize God as the all-powerful, ever-righteous God (as the Jews did, at least in their doctrine), and if that God tells us we are in rebellion against Him, but gives us the merciful opportunity to humble ourselves and repent – why wouldn’t we do it?  Why wouldn’t we jump at the chance to be forgiven by God?  Logically, this ought to be the quickest response anyone would have – yet it’s usually the last.  Why?

There are a host of theological reasons – but we can summarize with this: sin makes us stupid.  Apart from the grace of God, we are dead in our transgressions and sin, but the core of it is this: somehow, someway, we stupidly think that we know better than God and we can do without Him.  That was Adam’s mistake in the garden – he thought he knew better than God & could be like God.  That was even Satan’s rebellion – that he could do better than God and take God’s glory for himself.  And that is our sin as well.  As the most intelligent creatures on God’s green earth, we’re dumb enough to believe that we know better than our Creator, and that it’s OK to rebel against Him.

How incredible it is that God shows us such grace & mercy!  He offers us far more than we ever deserve!  He gives us opportunity after opportunity to come to our senses, and to humble ourselves before Him.  Every day is a new outpouring of His mercy, with a new opportunity to walk in fellowship with our God, rather than rebellion against Him.

That’s true not only for the person who hasn’t yet come to faith in Christ, but also for the current believer in Jesus Christ.  We who know Jesus as Lord ought to be the very last to reject His mercies and His promptings in our lives, but we do it anyway.  How many times have we said “no” to the One we call our Lord & Savior?  How often do we reject the One we call our King?  Because we belong to Christ, we are beloved by Him, and He will not pour out His wrath upon us – but we can be sure that He will discipline us if needed.  May there never be a need!  May we be those who do not reject the Son, but always respond to Him as He calls us to respond.

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