In the context of Holy Week, Jesus had arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover. As he arrived on a donkey to kingly acclaim from the crowds, while the religious leaders were critical of him. When he healed in the temple to the praise and delight of children, the religious leaders wanted to silence them. When he overturned the tables of the money changers to reinstate a place of prayer, the religious leaders challenged his authority. The religious authorities opposed Jesus and he revealed their lack of godly authority.
Each of the three parables reveals how the leaders rejected God. The first story of the two sons reveals they have rejected God’s will. The second story of the tenants reveals they have rejected God’s Son. The last story of the King’s feast reveals they have rejected God’s invitation.
Rejecting God’s will they reveal their hypocrisy, promising to obey, but not doing so. However, those like the first son who had initially rejected God’s will, but then obeyed were able to enter the Kingdom of God. Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. (Matthew 21:31)
The judgement on those rejecting God’s son, even killing him, is declared, He will bring those wretches to a wretched end Matthew 21:41. The religious leaders would lose of their kingdom authority and it would be given to people who would be fruitful. This is a severe judgement but not one that is hasty. From the time of Moses, from Aaron and the golden calf, the people of Israel had generally disobeyed God. For over one thousand years they had been given opportunity to repent and obey, but ultimately, they reject even God’s own Son.
Rejecting the King’s gracious invitation to his banquet for bogus reasons reveals their scorn for the king. Twice they are given personal invitations by special messengers and twice they reject it. In the spiritual sense it is not that God rejects them, but that they reject God. The third invitation is sent to people on the highways and byways, to all and sundry to good and bad, to as many as will respond to the king’s invitation. Time and again during his ministry Jesus extended the invitation for people to repent and turn to God. The religious leaders ignored this while many outcasts and sinners accepted and followed Jesus.
What do we learn from this? We see the strength of Jesus who began speaking judgement on the Jewish authorities through parables which reveal they have rejected God’s will, God’s Son and God’s invitation.
The flip side of this is for us to learn to accept and embrace God’s will, God’s Son and God’s invitation. The question facing us is are we like the religious leaders, rejecting God’s will, rejecting God’s Son and rejecting God’s invitation? Or are we among those who obey God’s will, follow God’s Son and accept God’s invitation?
Do you think Jesus was right to judge the religious leaders – what are your reasons for your view?
If Jesus has entrusted the kingdom of God to his followers with the expectation they will produce fruit – how fruitful are you as an individual or how fruitful are we as the church?
What do you think Jesus’ judgement of us may be?
Rev John Malcolm