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Feb 8 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Sixty-six – Matthew 21:33-46

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. Matthew 21:33

Jesus used this parable to answer a question and to forcefully reiterate a point he had made on several previous occasions. The question the parable answers was the one put to him by the chief priests and the elders, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” (v. 23). The point he had made before and was driving home again was that kingdom of God would be taken from the religious people who assumed they were God’s favorites, while streaming into it would be Gentiles, tax collectors, and prostitutes (Mt. 8:11-12; 21:31).

Jesus appealed to an image had already been made explicit by the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 5:1-7). So –although the Lord slightly reworked it, because in the earlier version the people addressed were compared to (bad) grapes while in Jesus’ version they were the vine-growers (Isa. 5:2). At any rate, in both cases it turned out badly for the audiences to whom the parables were directed.

There are only two classes of people in Jesus’ parable. First there are those who try to control religion, keep it to themselves, and personally profit from it. The other group are those to whom the vineyard (or kingdom of heaven) is graciously given and who faithfully turn its yield over to God.

When You come to us, O Lord, what sort of fruit do You hope to gather? What specific actions or accomplishments do You want us to present to You? Justice? Righteousness? Compassion? Although the specifics may not be clear to us, we have Your example and therefore trust that we will not be off the mark if we devote our lives to loving the Father with all our heart, mind, body, and spirit and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

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