Jesus went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will 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 kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “May this never be!” – Luke 20:9-17
God had shown tremendous love to his people in the past. He had given them the promise of a Savior from sin. He had rescued them from slavery in Egypt. He had given them his very words in the Law, and even sent his messengers, the prophets, to warn the people of their sin and call them back to his love. But many behaved like the bad tenants in Jesus’ parable. They rejected, mistreated, and even killed some of the prophets. They refused to return to God the praise and devotion he deserved, and now were about to kill his Son. Jesus could not give a stronger warning – those who reject God’s Son will not escape judgment.
What’s the most staggering thing about this parable? Isn’t it the great lengths the owner took in dealing with his tenants? What father would send his son to such a violent and rotten group of people? Wouldn’t we consider this risky, and even reckless? Yet this is a picture of God’s great love for sinners. It goes far beyond our human imagination. Ponder God’s Son walking to his death for us. Here all the restraints on love are broken. He loves us, even though we are sinners.
God has shown tremendous love to us in the past. He has given his only Son to take away our sins. He has given us blessing after blessing in his Word and Sacraments. He forgives our sins, cares for us, and promises us a future with him in heaven. Don’t reject God’s Son! Instead welcome him joyfully as God’s gift to you and return to him the devotion he deserves.