Wednesday, October 1, 2008

vineyards and stones

I apologize for the latenes of this post. I'm in the middle of my first semester in Seminary, dealing with a sick 18 mo. old son, yada - yada - yada...

Matthew 21:33-46

In this parable of Jesus, the one with the wicked tennants, a landowner planted a vinyard and, after moving away, hired workers to care for it in his absense. Those workers killed the landowners servants and his son in hopes of taking the inheritance.

Jesus uses this parable to explain the relationship the religious leaders had with the Hebrew people. God, (the landowner) planted a vineyard (Israel) and appointed tennants (religious leaders) to oversee it. They ignored the servants (prophets) and the son (Jesus).

So Jesus told them that the landowner would replace the tennants with new tennants (gentiles), suggesting once again that the kingdom of God is open to all.

Stuck in the middle of this parable is Jesus quoting a Psalm, mentioning that some stones that are rejected will become cap stones, the most important stone in the building. He might be claiming this about himself, since he was rejected by many of his hometown. He also could be making a statement about the outcast individuals in his society; another "the first will be last" kind of statement. Jesus is also claiming that the gentiles would play a significant role in the growth of his movement.

But i wonder about that line, v. 44, "The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” Is he suggesting that some people will try to understand and know him but fail? Is he saying anyone standing against him will be destroyed? The latter part, "it (the stone, ie. Jesus) will crush anyone on whom it falls" might be a political statement, meant to warn the religious leaders, and encourage his followers.

So Jesus calls out the religious leaders on their shabby practices, and in a way, threatens that their power would be taken away and they would be replaced.

I wonder what Jesus would have to say to those in positions of power today? How might Jesus react to the mishandlings of finances by those involved with the global economy today? What might be a good parable to address the issues of injustice and poverty today?

Happy pondering!


fester said...

It is interesting if you take these verses in context with the matthew reading from last week. Jesus does not seem to be talking about himself in context but seems to be talking about John the Baptist.

I dont want to ignore that the capstone could be the outcast of society, because that also fits the parable before this reading, in that it is the prositutes and tax collectors who will enter the kin-dom before the cheif priests, so then we could deduce that the sinners are also the capstone, the most important stone, but in context not becuase they believed in jesus, but in john.

if the capstone is John then what does that mean. I am not sure that jesus referes to himself as often as we might think. the writer of matthew seem to have a jesus who is really a follower of john for what that is worth.

Andy Beck said...

Fester, awesome perspective and something i had not considered. Thanks for the view!