Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A
Lectionary Reading: Matthew 21:33-46 (NRSV)
This parable may not evoke ideas about the love of God among us. It feels much more judgmental in nature - God is expecting more of us than we are giving.
It is hard to interpret this parable if you haven't read Isaiah 5:1-7 first. In this particular passage, Israel is likened to a vineyard. We see the similarities to the parable of Jesus in that the vineyard is well-tended in both passages. Both note the presence of a watchtower showing that there is oversight. In Isaiah, we see disappointment in the fruit of the vine. Then we have the reveal in verse seven that the vineyard was in fact, the people of Judah and Israel. God has an expectation of justice and righteousness but has found the opposite.
In the parable that Jesus tells, we see that the tenants aren't passing on any of the profits of the vineyard to the owner. In fact, the owner's collectors are harassed and even killed. We see further that even the son of the vineyard is not respected. We can see that a hard rain is gonna fall to quote Bob Dylan.
Jesus tells us that "the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom."
This is a parable for every age. The apostle Paul reminds us that the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Love is at the top of the list.
|We should periodically check to see|
what kind of fruit we're producing.
If we are not producing love for one another, we will be supplanted by God for those who will. We have been given an expectation and we must live up to it. It should reflect the character of the Christian community - even when it's hard.
There have been times in my life when I've failed to match the love of God for others. I've usually been fairly self-righteous about justifying my lack of love. At these times, I've made Jesus into my image rather than conforming myself to Christ. Fortunately, we have repentance available. A person who is unable to repent is stuck because the self is lifted up as the idol rather than God.
We must begin to reflect the character of the owner of the vineyard.
So we circle back to love. Maybe this parable has more to do with love than a first glance indicates. If you join me on Sunday for worship, we'll explore a little further. With all of the opportunities to engage online, there's no reason not to!
Photo by Jennifer via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.
All scripture quoted is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.