Matthew 21:33-42 - [Jesus said] "Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 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. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons." Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?"
Have you ever noticed how many of Jesus' parables go right off the rails in one way or another? Here we have a story that starts off reasonably—until the tenants attack the owner's messengers.
In any normal story, we'd know what comes next. But if the tenants in this story are unreasonable, the owner is too! Because he doesn't have them arrested and put to death. Instead, he sends more messengers—who suffer the same fate as the first group. And then does he come to his senses? No. He looks at the only man he has left to send, his only son, and says, "Go."
We all know what comes next.
This is a ridiculous, unreasonable story—but then, you could say the same about reality, couldn't you? Because look at what God did in real history! He sent His servants the prophets to His people, not just once or twice, but again and again and again—and every time, they were rejected, harassed, attacked, and even killed. A reasonable god would have rained down judgment after the first one or two.
But our God—the true God—what did He do? He sent His Son.
By any ordinary measure, God's love for us is unreasonable. It leads Him to show a patience we can hardly understand with human sin and wickedness. It leads Him to show mercy, again and again, even to His enemies. And it led Him to send His Son Jesus—so that we, His enemies, might be forgiven, made new, and changed into children of God.
This is not reasonable. This is a glory of love and compassion that goes so far beyond reason that nobody can comprehend it. All we can do is give thanks—and worship.
WE PRAY: Dear Father, thank You for sending Your Son—and for making us new through Him. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. What would you have done if you had been the owner? Why?
2. Is love usually unreasonable? Why or why not?
3. Can you think of any other parables Jesus told which go "off the rails" in unexpected ways like this one does?
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