FOR THE Fifth Sunday of Lent, we encounter several lessons used for our gospel reading and study. For those who seek the Johnannine lesson, please be invited to view that examination at:
For those who wish to follow the Lukan path as most do within the North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, you are invited to continue here. We read…
And he (Jesus) 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. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, that they should give him some of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant; him also they beat and treated shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants, and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “God forbid!”
But he looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
‘The very stone which the builders rejected
has become the head of the corner’?
Every one who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one it will crush him.”
The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people; for they perceived that he had told this parable against them. So they watched him, and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might take hold of what he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.
USING imagery sourced from the prophet Isaiah, Jesus addressed the refusal of Hebrew religious leaders to accept his authority. This parable sometimes termed also as allegory, thus established his authority and also predicted Jesus’ impending death and his subsequent Resurrection. Though Luke here omitted direct quotation of Isaiah 5:2, as seen in Matthew 21:33 and Mark 12:1, the story telling was recorded in varied form. In Mark and Matthew, a servants was killed; whereas, in Luke omitted that and only the son was killed. However, in all tellings the vineyard was easily interpreted as Israel, the owner represented God, the son was soon seen as Jesus; the tenants represented the religious leaders who were charged with caring for the religious life of Israel... and the servants were the prophets. A measure of fruit was requested from the tenants, who did not own the vineyard.
Some misunderstanding occurs, however, as we read that the owner of the Vineyard eventually sends his “beloved” son. The meaning in ancient Near Eastern family relationships is revealed somewhat in the Septuagint, as the Greek word agapētos was often used as a synonym for monogenēs, meaning “one and only”. This points us to the unique status of the person as a beloved, ”only” child. The hearers of the parable were then situated to deduce that they were the “other” ones motivated to kill Jesus, when the story’s progress revealed to them that Jesus is revealing himself indeed as the Only Son. However, it seems that Luke’s hearers grasped this meaning long before the original hearers did as this story was read, simply because they were living in a post crucifixion and Resurrection milieu. By the power of the Holy spirit, they knew the dread of the story… and its dramatic and sacrificial details.
|In the Shadow of Empire: Reclaiming the Bible as a History of Faithful Resistance
By Edited by Richard A. Horsley
The early Church knew by the Spirit from Luke’s pen that Jesus’ used Psalm 118:22 in the story. They could also realize that God did vindicate his Son who is the “stone” and knew of those who yet trip over him and meet destruction.
Luke was also very clear to them about the motives of the visitors in the parable. The author called them spies trying to catch our Lord by trapping him into offending the Roman authorities. By baiting him into making condemnations of heavy taxation, they had hoped legal offense would occur. In this way our reading revealed to readers and hearers that the conversation did not accomplish that end, but instead only widened the carnal gap between the innocence of Jesus and the insincerity of the listeners.
As we examine this reading, we who are yet sinful need to realize that we cannot and should not try to manipulate our God in order to entrap the divine loving nature into doing things our way. God is the foundational constant in our lives. As scripture elsewhere relates, though all else may change… the intent of our Lord as the owner of the Vineyard… is to gather good for us. So it is, and so it shall be.
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May the Peace of God be with You!