Advent Meditation by Jeanne Rosebrock
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.
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This is, as the disciples said in another context, a hard saying.
Who is the landlord, who the heir and who the evil tenants? The plain surface meaning is that God is the owner of the vineyard and Jesus is his beloved son. In the passage following this it says that the scribes and Pharisees believed Jesus to be comparing them to the tenants. They will kill Jesus, and the kingdom will be given to outsiders.
I have always been told that parables were Jesus’ way of making Kingdom-truths plain to the simple people of his time. As I have lived longer and studied more, though, I find the parables harder and harder to understand. Even the ones with a plain surface meaning seem to have something else going on that I just don’t get. Here, for instance: do we not stand up every year during the Passion narrative and cry, “Crucify him!” as a sign of our complicity in his death? But do we believe in a God who will punish us forever? Do we not believe that our God can forgive us anything, even the death of his Beloved?
Perhaps another year I’ll understand.