Then Jesus began to speak to them in parables. ‘A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the winepress, and built a watch-tower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But those tenants said to one another, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone his was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes”?’ When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away.
The parallels with the unfolding story of the coming and going of prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures and then the coming of Jesus himself are obvious in this passage. This is what caused the anger of the Religious authorities who heard this parable. It’s meaning was clear. It is also easy for us to gloss over it thinking it is only of relevance to its time. Yet that is to close ourselves to what it tells us about ourselves. How often do we not notice the promptings of the Spirit as we go about our business. Who do we ignore – if not actually beat or kill? What do we not see that is right in front of our eyes because we are looking to the next thing? Who do we not listen to because we have heard it before, or even worse we don’t like what is being said. Who do we underestimate, or side-line or walk away from? What living stones do we reject? May we today pause and look and listen to God’s promptings.
Lord, today in my business, may I take time to take in my surroundings, the people I encounter and may I be open to what your Spirit is saying in and through the world I encounter. Amen
The Rev’d Hilary Collinson is the minister of the Tees and Swaledale Pastorate.