This parable in Matthew is a sister to the song of the vineyard in Isaiah 5. In both cases, God is the farmer who has provided generously so that the vineyard will be very fruitful. In Isaiah, the distress is over a lack of good fruit despite fine care of the vineyards. In Jesus’ story, the fruit is good, but the trusted stewards are corrupt and self-serving.
Something’s missing in the current culture war over the Ten Commandments. I knew about Judge Roy Moore, the now-removed chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who waged and lost a stubborn fight to keep a Ten Commandments monument in his courthouse. What slipped past me is just how much this monument of his weighs: 5,280 pounds, or just over 500 pounds per commandment.
The first Sunday of October is World Communion Sunday. Christians around the world remember that we are linked with brothers and sisters of all colors and languages. There is no better time to remind ourselves of this truth than in these days, when so much of the world is divided into a multitude of warring camps.
Lent carries in its bosom a seductive danger: excessive inwardness. The seduction is this: a season of prayer, repentance and preparation for Good Friday and Easter necessarily involves trips to the heart, but tarry there too long and repentance can stall out as melancholy. The danger is this: self-examination may spawn attempts at self-improvement, with the result that looking at self replaces looking to God, and small measures of merit replace the immeasurable grace of God.
Jesus tells the story of the owner of the vineyard to show that his listeners, members of the religious establishment of his time, have missed the point. The story is breathtakingly clear. Those who “get it” have to do away with him. They mock him, deride him and finally kill him.