(Jesus said) "Finally he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.' And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him." (Matthew 21:37-39)
The story of the wicked tenants is a strange one. A man plants a vineyard, rents it out, and goes away to a far country. When the harvest comes, he sends servants to collect his share of the fruit. The tenants refuse. Instead, they beat the servants, kill some, and throw them out of the vineyard. After several episodes like this, the landowner sends his son. Exactly the same thing happens—as anybody could predict.
This story bothers me. "Why are you bothering?" I want to ask of the vineyard owner. "It's just a vineyard. Human lives are worth more than a vineyard. Your son is worth more than a vineyard. Just give it up."
If this was just any ordinary vineyard, perhaps the owner would give it up. But it's not. This is God's vineyard, which He dug out, planted, fenced, and built a winepress for. This is Jesus' inheritance as the Son of God. In short, this is God's world, and we are the vines in it. He isn't going to give us up.
And yet we are occupied territory. So many of those who rule over us have no fear of God and no desire to give Him what belongs to Him. This includes everyone from bullying bosses and abusive parents to corrupt politicians and world leaders. And neither they nor the devil himself who influences them are willing to surrender what they hold.
Into this occupied territory comes Jesus, the Son of God. He comes to set us free—even if it costs Him His own life. He is not stupid. He knows what will happen to Him. And yet He goes through with it, knowing that His death will turn the world right-side-up, and His resurrection will set us all free.
Are you suffering under the power of someone who refuses to listen to God? Take courage, because God has not forgotten you. He has already sent His Son to rescue you. And He will finish the job—soon now, very soon!—when Jesus comes again, to take up His rule over all the universe. We are waiting for that day.
THE PRAYER: Lord, look on us when we suffer under the power of evil, and set us free. Amen.
* Has anyone ever taken away from you something that was rightfully yours?
* When were you under the power of someone who did not follow God?
* Take a moment to pray for those who suffer under the power of evildoers.
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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