Sunday, February 19, 2012
Obeying God’s Will IV
The True Israel
The meaning of the parable lies in its allegorical details. The tenants stand for Israel’s rulers and leaders, the owner of the vineyard is God, the messengers are the prophets, the son is Christ, and the punishment symbolizes the destruction of Israel.
The ‘others’ to whom the vineyard is given, probably refers to the Gentiles, who made up the majority of the church, claimed by its members to be the True Israel. Early Christians may also have seen the son being cast out of the vineyard as picturing the fact that Jesus was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem.
The incident concludes with the scribes and priests wanting to arrest Jesus, but being afraid to do so because they feared the reaction of the people. From this, it is clear that Jesus had strong popular support — it was presumably to avoid a public outcry that the authorities later decided to arrest Jesus at night.
Some Jews may have wanted Jesus put to death, while others clearly supported him. On his way to his death by crucifixion, for example, the women of Jerusalem wept for him (Luke 23:28). The early Christians, however, perhaps influenced by the growing hostility between the church and the synagogue, tended to blame all Jews for the death of Jesus. Many of them accused the Jewish people of decide, killing God, an idea that has now been repudiated by almost all churches.
Jesus’ parable, with its explicit reference to the death of the son, could have alerted Jesus’ followers to the fate that was in store for him. At the same time, Jesus may have intended it to be a final appeal to his opponents to consider the consequences of their actions.