Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Pentecost 17 Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12v1-12, The Vineyard Tenants

This story is found in Mark, Luke and Matthew. In Matthew the son is taken, thrown
 out and then killed. One obvious explanation of the parable is that Israel is the
vineyard, Israel's religious leaders are the farmers, the servants are the prophets
and the son is Jesus. Isaiah 5:1-7 and Jeremiah 7:25-26 are background texts
The parable is a kingdom parable, a gospel riddle, but without the introduction 
of "the kingdom of heaven is like ..." It comes immediately after the questioning of 
Jesus authority The parabolh is about judgment.

The rejected stone is now the cornerstone. In the Psalms, Israel is the stone.
The Aramaic words for son and stone are similar so there may have been a
deliberate play on words. 
The prophecy of the stone is not found in Mark or Luke's record of the
parable of the vineyard.  Matthew emphasises that Israel's religious leaders
have rejected  the Messiah so the kingdom is given to others.
  
Jesus is baiting the  chief priests and the Pharisees.
The "people" are sometimes the Gentiles, sometimes the people of the land,
the peasants, the poor people. 

The fruit of the vineyard should be repentance and faith. The blessing of God
comes freely and is not dependent on what we do .
  
The prophecy of the stone is missing from some manuscripts. It was possibly
brought over from Luke 20:18, but may have just been missed during
transcribing.The imagery is from Daniel 2:34, 44-45. When the messiah judges
/ falls on those who have rejected him, they will be ground to dust.   

The word  parable is not usually used with  Jesus' illustrations, his teaching
parables, but 
rather when he employs a riddle.

The landowner has planted a vineyard and he put a wall around it and dug a
wine press in it and a watchtower. The landowner rented to some farmers and
went away on a journey.  
When the harvest time came he sent his servants to collect his harvest. The
tenants seized them, beat and killed and stoned them. 
  
So he sent other servants who were treated in the same way.
Then the heir was sent and the tenants wanted his inheritance so they
grabbed him and cast him out and killed him-a link to Jesus' arrest and
crucifixion. (The Talmud states that people who have worked land that is not
theirs for over three years have gained rights for it. In this case, the owner
may then be treated as an intruder)

Jesus draws out a moral that behavior will be punished - the tenants will
lose their living and the vineyard handed to new tenants.
But bad people will come to a bad end and the vineyard given to other tenants.

 The capstone / cornerstone is a capstone, top stone keeping walls together, or 
the corner foundation stone. The builders rejected it as unsuitable, but from God's 
perspective, it works perfectly just like the ordinary people who have been
rejected. 


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