Now let’s look within Luke to begin to put together what he has written, in the way that it is intended. I have drawn your attention already to Luke 14:15-24 where the man sends his servants to invite people to a banquet and he gets lame excuses. This is exactly what the prophets were doing. In the parable in Luke 14, grace is extended to all the servants, even the one who was unfaithful. This is our God, our redeemer King. The one who came to seek and to save the lost. The one who first loves us. He will not allow his enemies to determine his response – will you? What a shock! This is reminiscent of the Parable of the Prodigal. There is another shock factor buried in the text. Did you see it? “What shall I do?” Did you notice the link to Isaiah 5:4 which reads – What more could I have done for My vineyard that I have not already done? I deliberately didn’t colour it, knowing that I would address it at this time.
I will send my beloved Son. That is exactly God’s response. Fortunately, God doesn’t allow those at enmity with Him (us) to determine His response.
Total and utter surprise. What? How can He do that when they have already responded to the servants with increasing violence?
Note, in Luke 10:25 a lawyer asks, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” In Luke 18:18 a ruler asks the same question. Ah, these farmhands are hoping to inherit the land by squatting and beating off any overtures the owner makes toward them. But there is far more at stake than inheriting the land. The leaders of Israel were clearly confident that their role of leading the vineyard of Israel would last forever: a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. They were sadly mistaken. They only had limited tenure. They perceived He had told this parable against them. Well, how perceptive of them. What was it that was being given and who was it given to?
The shock of this parable is the vulnerability the vineyard owner offered to the vinedressers. He was perfectly in the right to be angry with them and seek vengeance upon them. His case was a totally just one. Yet, note with each step of sending a servant as the violence toward them escalates, amazingly he remains calm and forgiving. The vineyard owner is in focus as the one who is so merciful and long-suffering. He should have shown his wrath and yet He chose not to do so. He was patient, long-suffering and compassionate. He emptied himself of his own pride and reputation. (It’s reflective of Phil 2. isn’t it?) How much violence against his servants will this owner put up with? When will he demand vengeance on these scoundrels? He doesn’t! Instead He offers them his neck with the next step. I am sure he is expecting that his extreme response, in the light of their actions, would shame them into doing the right thing.
Instead he says: ‘I know what I’ll do. I’ll send my beloved son. They’re bound to respect my son.’ The word that is used for respect is the word [entrepo’].
to shame one, to be ashamed, to reverence a person, to turn about
to invert, that is, (figuratively and reflexively) in a good sense, to respect; or in a bad one, to confound: – regard, (give) reverence, shame.
The owner of the vineyard does something, in this case, that is unheard of. He decides after these unscrupulous vineyard workers have done the dirty to him three times now, that he will send his son. Surely, they will entrap him. The translations say “respect”, but perhaps a better translation is: surely sending my son will shame them into doing what they ought to do. It reminds me of Romans 2:4 – don’t you know the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
What the Vineyard Owner does is shocking and risky. He is willing to offer his prone neck to the swordsman in order to solve the problem. How like God! Are you getting the message? The hero of this story is the Vineyard Owner. He is the one who takes extraordinary measures to deal with the violence of the workers. Are you getting the point of the parable now? By whose authority are you doing these things? Well, God’s authority, actually. And let me tell you a story to show you how God works. Jesus has already predicted his death numerous times before. Now, it is all very clear what is happening here. God is offering His Son to appease the hostile vineyard workers. Oh, yes they are in focus but there is far more at stake than these vinedressers. It’s you leaders and teachers of the law, and the rest of mankind as well. This Son of the Vineyard Owner has come to offer his life a ransom for all. He has come to seek and save the lost by inviting guilty sinners and giving unworthy servants a place in the kingdom.
This theme runs through the Gospel of Luke. But not only that, we have the stones theme and the impending judgment theme woven in alongside it as well. There is one more recurrent element we need to look at for the moment. Note the link of My Beloved Son in Luke’s account of the story. “I’ll send my beloved son. They’re bound to respect my son.” It is one of Luke’s unique additions; the other gospel writers don’t include it. The term “beloved son” was used both at Jesus baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration. The day before the cleansing of the Temple was the Triumphal Entry. The message is strong and clear as to Who this One is, standing in their midst. This is the Vineyard Owners Son. What will you do with Him?
That is it in a nutshell, isn’t it? This is the essence of God’s bold plan. How ironic that it was Caiaphus who advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people. He was one of those who approached Jesus at the time of the cleansing of the Temple and questioned Him about His authority to do that. And he must have been with them when they discussed among themselves and concluded that Jesus told this story against them. What shall I do? What will you do? Will you fall on the stumbling stone of offense and confess your offense before God, or will you wait till the stone falls on you? Will you opt for His grace and mercy or His wrath and judgment?
One more unique Lukan change to comment on. I drew your attention to it in an earlier Gem’s note — “and threw him over the fence” and suggested you see if you can connect it to something.
I am sure you are aware that Jesus was crucified outside the camp. Outside the fence, so to speak. Let me leave you with a series of consecutive verses from Hebrews which connects to this thought in Luke.
For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.Hebrews 13:11-13
Go to Him outside the camp before it’s too late.
If you give it to God, He transforms your test into a testimony, your mess into a message, and your misery into a ministry.Rick Warren
Grace is power—God getting involved and doing through you what you could never do on your own.Joyce Meyer
It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was on to something.Ornette Coleman
Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask, act! Action will delineate and define you.Thomas Jefferson
If you live for the approval of others, you’ll die from their rejection!Rick Godwin