St Luke 20: 9 – 18
He began to tell the people this parable: ‘A man planted a vineyard, and leased it to tenants, and went to another country for a long time. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants in order that they might give him his share of the produce of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Next he sent another slave; that one also they beat and insulted and sent away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one also they wounded and threw out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.” But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, “This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance may be ours.” So they threw 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, ‘Heaven forbid!’ But he looked at them and said, ‘What then does this text mean:
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone”?
Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’ When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.
Commentaries on this passage suggest that God is the owner, the vineyard is Israel, the tenants are the leaders at the time and the servants are the prophets.
It’s clear that these tenants have been poor stewards of the vineyard. They’ve used it for profit and ignored the prophets. They have no respect for the owner, nor the servants, they abuse the trust placed in them to look after the vineyard.
Their actions are brutal. They break one of the foundation commandments purely out of greed. They commit murder, and for what? Do they really think they will inherit the vineyard?
COP26 raised questions about our stewardship, our treatment of the vineyard. Are we any better as tenants than the 1st Century Jewish leaders?
We’ve had plenty of prophets both Biblical and modern day giving us warnings about the consequences of not treating the world God gave us to look after with due care. Do our actions show respect for the world around us?
Sometimes in reading a passage to prepare a daily devotion something new stands out. The verse about those falling on the cornerstone being broken isn’t one I’d really paid much heed to before.
A Jewish proverb puts it as “If the stone falls on the pot, alas for the pot; if the pot falls on the stone, alas for the pot!” The lesson? Don’t stumble over the cornerstone, but instead build on it, remembering this is the stone that was once rejected.
And how is the vineyard doing? Are we prepared to be accountable for our action or inaction when the owner sends his son to ask for the first fruits from the harvest?
Will there be any fruit to hand over?
Creator God, help us to treat your world with respect
Your words as an encouragement to love
And you people as an opportunity to care