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A Just Response

April 20, 2015

A wealthy land owner took a portion of his property and planted a vineyard. He worked hard to make sure the vineyard was well protected. He built a strong fence all the way around the vineyard. He dug a pit to store all the juice from the fresh pressed grapes. He built a tower for a guard to keep watch over the vineyard and protect it from thieves. When the vineyard was finished and all the young vines planted, he rented out the fruitful land to some men to tend it and watch over it. Satisfied with his preparations the owner went on a long trip.

When harvest time came, the land owner sent a messenger to the share croppers to collect the rent they owed him. The farmers did not want to pay what they owed, but sought to keep all the crop for themselves. They took the messenger, beat him and sent him empty handed back to the owner. The owner sent another messenger to collect his rent and this time they threw stones at him and drove him away with severe head injuries. The land owner kept sending servants, and every servant the tenants rejected, beating some and killing others.

Finally the land owner decided he would send his only son to collect his rent. Surely these ungrateful, dishonest men would show respect to the land owner’s son. They might mistreat his servants, but never mistreat his son. When the renters saw the son was come to them to collect, they decided among themselves that if they killed the son, they would not only get to keep all the crop, they would get the entire vineyard. They captured the son, killed him and threw his body out into the street. How would a wealthy property owner respond to the wretched men who abused his servants and murdered his son?

Jesus taught the parable of the husbandmen to show how the Jews had rejected the prophets of God and had now rejected Him, God’s Son. Just like the landowner, God has done everything necessary for His servants. He has given a beautiful vineyard and expects His people to be fruitful for Him. The work of the Lord is a marvelously complete work. Instead of being rebels against God, the only reasonable response to His generosity is to produce fruit for Him. We must give Him the praise and worship due Him. We must acknowledge Jesus as God and that we are caretakers of His grace to bring fruit for Him. The response of faithful men must be a response of submission and faith. Believe His word and obey His commands.

As the parable of the husbandman powerfully indicates, God demands a right return from His servants. He has made us His people. He has made us His church. He has given us His Holy Spirit to make us able to do His work. He has entrusted to our care the work of His vineyard. He expects us to use the gifts He has given for His glory. He expects us to use the grace He has given for the increase of His gospel. He expects us to be faithful servants. He expects us to be bearing fruit for Him. He is worthy of our praise and obedience. He is worthy of our worship and trust. He is good to all and the only reasonable response to His goodness is one of great devotion and praise. God is due the reasonable service of a life lived abandoned to the increase of the glory of God in this world.

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