On Not Being Thomas Jefferson with Jesus2
9 He 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. 10 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. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed.12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.
This is our last week in our series on parables. Here, Jesus is talking in the temple to a gathering of every day folks along with a group of religious leaders who have just tried to trap him.
Jesus proceeds to tell them a parable that will essentially sum up a couple thousand years of biblical history. And it won’t be an incredibly flattering tale for his listeners.
This, of course, is one of the hardest things about taking Jesus seriously. Listen long enough and there will be something that you’ll wish he didn’t say. This parable is not only going to be offensive to his initial hearers, it’s going to rattle some of us as well.
And the challenge when that happens is to stay engaged. To lean in, rather than push back or disengage or to try to conform Jesus into someone more to our liking and preferences.
Thomas Jefferson famously went through the Bible and blotted out the passages he didn’t like. Attempting to make God in our own image is a constant temptation. It’s much easier than being conformed to his.
Jesus is the world’s greatest teacher, period. No one’s impacted more lives in all of history than this man. And for those of us who have been baptized into his name we’ve staked our eternity on the fact that he’s not only a great teacher but the Son of God, uniquely divine, the Holy One of God who has put on flesh to come to get us.
And so the invitation from God as we start a new week with a new, rather difficult parable, is to fight for a soft and teachable heart before the Lord of the Cosmos.
What are the teachings of Jesus that are hard for you? Spend just a few seconds asking for Jesus to give you a fresh work of the Spirit for a soft heart, even and especially where it’s difficult for you to hear what he has to say.