The Tenants and the Good Owner of the Vineyard
Translated by Allan Liang
The Lord Jesus’ biography goes into passion week. This particular story also was mentioned in three of the four gospels (Mathew 21:33-46, Luke 20: 9-19), and because of Israel’s rebellion and disobedience to God, salvation turned to the gentiles and landed today on you and me. The first verse says, Jesus continued to use parables (Mark 4:11) to tell stories, the “us” referring to the enraged chief priests and teachers of the law who sought to arrest Jesus (Mark 11:18), and referring also to the tenants, that is, those who had authority to govern over the people of God. The tenants used violence against the servants who were sent to collect the rent which they owed, which was precisely a portrayal of the Israelites, who continually rejected the prophets sent by God to urge them to repent; the story was a description of Israel and her unfaithfulness. The country of Israel was the vineyard planted by God (Isaiah 5:1-5). The owner of the vineyard was God himself, and the servants were commonly used to represent old testament prophets along with John the Baptist (Exodus 14:31, 2 Chronicles 1:3, Isaiah 20:3, Amos 3:7); God sent prophets to call the Israelites to reclaim their faithfulness, but because the prophets faithfully spoke what God commanded them to speak, they were met with slaughtering (Matthew 23:37). The son of the owner of the vineyard who had been killed was Jesus (Mark 12:6-8, 1:11, 9:7; Matthew 16:16), God had sent Jesus, the true Messiah, but the Jewish people were blind and did not know of this, but instead, had Jesus killed. God’s judgement will come upon them and the kingdom of God will be given to others. Jesus Christ is “ ‘The stone the builders rejected,” spoken of in verse 10. To believers, he is the cornerstone and also is “the capstone” (Psalms 118:22-23, 1 Corinthians 3:11, Ephesians 2:20-22, 1 Peter 2:4-5). The tenants will be destroyed and the vineyard will be given to others (Mathew 21:43, Luke 22:29-30, Mathew 8:11-12, Romans 9:22-26), the others being, a people able to bear fruit. Because of Israel’s rebellion, salvation turned towards the gentiles, this of course being the direction of God’s plan of redemption. This people could not be another nation, but rather is God’s new people - his church. This signifies that God’s special care of the Israelites has become a matter of the past, and the gospel will come upon his new people. Today, we are the wild olive shoots grafted in the true olive root, how grateful are we! (Romans 11:11-32) But how often do my sins make me like the evil tenants, crucifying the Lord Jesus over and over again. We earnestly beg of the Lord to help us desire to know the good owner of the vineyard, search always within ourselves for sins, repent of sins (1 John 1:8-9), willingly hand the authority to the Lord and with a servant-like heart serve the Lord (Luke 17:3-10, Psalm 37:1-7). May we rely on the work of the Holy Spirit and the light of God’s Word to continually live out Christ as the head of our family, and “as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) May we also commit ourselves to being built up as a church, partner with God in his work, expand the kingdom of God, pray for the salvation of lost souls, and forsake more of our lives of comfort. Today is June 1st which is close to June 4th, the annual day of commemoration for the Tian an Men massacre of June 4th, 1989. Many brothers and sisters in numerous churches across the world are also remembering Pastor Wang Yi’s birthday today, as well as his continuous anti-abortion activisms held on this day (June 1st is the national children’s day for China, “no abortions on children’s day”), and his willingness and that of his church, Early Rain Covenant Church, to suffer for the Lord. May the love of the Lord motivate us to learn and act accordingly. Please carefully read the following verses of Scripture, Mark 12:1-12, and meditate, reflect and pray: “If Jesus is not my Lord in all, Jesus is not my Lord at all.” If Jesus is not Lord over every aspect of my life, Jesus is not my Lord at all. Let me think about the growth of my spiritual life - how many times have I had the heart of the evil tenants? How can I fully submit to the good owner of the vineyard, to my Lord Jesus Christ?