(Again, many thanks to Rev. Dr. Phil Brandt for the use of his devotions).
9 And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. 10 When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And 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 destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” 17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
19 The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. 20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes what seems like a good idea at the time ends up being really foolish? I once thought it would be a good idea to buy a small Italian car. 1978 was not a good year for Fiat. There was a fault somewhere in the system that recharged the battery. I discovered that small cars can be push-started very easily by a couple of college friends. I always looked for a hill when I parked. Unfortunately, I attended school in Nebraska where hills are in short supply.
Of course, a college student with an undependable car is not exactly a high-stakes scenario. All of us right now are concerned about decisions we and others are making. Pray for those in authority who are making the decisions which may save millions of lives. Jesus’ parable and my own automotive experience have taught me, however, that I should not have too much confidence in human decision making. What were those tenants thinking anyway? How could they have imagined that killing the owner’s son was ever a good idea? Yet, I have known enough people who made disastrous decisions to realize that Jesus has a pretty accurate picture of human nature.
But turn to the final paragraph of this story and take heart in God’s nature. The scribes and chief priests are making a terrible decision. It probably seems like a good idea. Jesus was stirring things up and they were afraid. But their terrible, wrong-headed, and unjust actions would become the mechanism for God saving the world. I really do believe we need to strive to make good decisions. I think it is a good idea to take a step back and think again before we do something drastic. But never does this world, even when evil and death are at their strongest, ever slip from God’s grasp. The decision to kill the only righteous man who ever lived was a terrible decision. Look what God did with that. Rest today in the fact that throughout all of these days, God is still the creator, lover, and redeemer of you and the rest of this world.