Sunday, February 19, 2012
Obeying God’s Will III
The Wicked Husbandmen
The parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, like John’s comparison of Jesus to the true vine, uses the vineyard to symbolize Israel, a traditional identification found in the Old Testament. The story is about a householder who planted a vineyard, placed a fence around it, dug a vinepress, and built a tower. He then rented it to wine growers (husbandment) and went abroad. When it was time for the vines to bear fruit, he sent a servant (Matthew says servants) to collect his share of the rent. The tenants, however, instead of honouring their agreement, beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. When a second man was sent, the tenants also physically abused him.
According to Luke’s account, a third servant was wounded; according to Mark, who also mentions that additional servants were sent, the servants were killed. This may be echoing Old Testament references to the many prophets whom the Jews had repudiated and martyred (1 kings 18:13; 2 Chronicles 24:20).
The landowner then decided to send his son — Mark calls him his “beloved son”, which was the phrase used by the voice from heaven to address Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan:” You are my Son, the Beloved, my favour rests on you.” The owner had hoped that even if the tenants had treated his servants badly, they would at least respect his son. Instead, egging each other on to kill him and inherit the property, they threw him out of the vineyard and murdered him.
Jesus asked what the owner of the vineyard would do, then answered his own question by saying that he would destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. The audience, according to Luke, reacted to this drastic action with the words,”God forbid!” Quoting from the Psalms (118:22-23), Jesus responded by alluding to his own rejection by the Jews and the founding of the church. He ended by saying that the kingdom of God would be given to those who bore fruit.