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172 - Terrible Tenants Tried

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
The Truth Network Radio
November 11, 2023 1:00 pm

172 - Terrible Tenants Tried

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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November 11, 2023 1:00 pm

Episode 172 - Terrible Tenants Tried (11 Nov 2023) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.

Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, Jesus was a master storyteller. He told a lot of parables, but sometimes those parables went right over the heads of the religious leaders.

Yeah, and they were probably scratching their heads thinking, what was that all about? But today. Today, the story he tells is right in their face and they know it.

It's confrontation Jesus style. Stay with us now on More Than Ink. And yes, here we are.

This is More Than Ink. I'm looking at Dorothy. And I'm looking at Jim. Absolutely. We sit across the table from each other and we discuss God's Word and we have a good time doing it. And we're glad you're with us because I presume you have a good time doing it too. I do.

This is something I enjoy very much to sit across the table from you and talk about the one thing that's most important in life to both of us. Yeah. Well, and we've said this before, it's not that we haven't read these passages before.

No. I mean, we've read them before, but there's an ongoing delight in just coming back to them again, like visiting old friends and looking at them and God gives you new insights even every time you look at it. Well, and there's a freshness that comes in each conversation.

I teach women's Bible studies and I always say to those women, I learned more than any of you because I sit in front of those groups, three different groups every week and hear them teaching one another and processing themselves what the Word of God is teaching them. And that is a huge benefit to me. Yeah. Yeah. You know, in fact, someone came into my office this week.

I was studying a passage sitting in my little comfortable chair studying the passage. They stuck their head in and they said, I mean, are you researching it from scratch again? And I said, well, yeah, I always do. He said, well, you can't just do it because you've done it before?

I go, no, you have to look at it new. That's a really good point. You know, who was it that said they would rather teach from running water, from a living stream than from a stagnant pool? I can't remember who it was that said that, but some teacher that we heard many years ago. Probably Howie. Well, yeah, Howard Hendricks.

That would be Howard Hendricks. Well, anyway, so what are we reading today? Well, we are in Matthew, Matthew's Gospel, chapter 21. And we're marching into a couple of parables for the next two weeks that are really insightful about the kingdom. Well, and they kind of pick up on a parable that Jesus just told, right? There's really no break between the one that we talked about last week and the one that we started today. So that's kind of helpful to remember.

Yeah. So what was the one last time? Okay, so last week was the parable of the two sons, right? The man had two sons, and he said to them both, go in the vineyard and work, and the one said, I'm not gonna, but later he changed his mind and went. And the other son said, Okay, I'll go, but he didn't. And so Jesus uses that then to say to the Pharisees that, you know, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going to get into the kingdom before you, because they initially said they wouldn't, and then they repented and believed.

And they did. Yeah. So that theme is still running when he starts right into this next parable. Well, hold that last one in your hip pocket, and we go into the next parable, and it's a parable about a vineyard again. I love this one. Yeah.

And for me, this is, I've said this before, this is one of the most pivotal life-changing parables I ever read when I first read the New Testament. Really? Yeah. Kind of strange, isn't it? I'll explain why later on.

I wanna hear about that, yeah. So let's just look at it and see why. Chapter 21, if you're joining with us, we're on verse 33. Okay. And so take off.

Here we go. Here 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. Okay, let me say something right here before we start, and that is that this parable starts exactly the same way as one in Isaiah 5. And in some, in your Bible translation, it's possible that it's even marked as an Old Testament quotation.

So it's kind of like when someone starts a familiar story. You listen up because you know what's coming, and then all of a sudden this story departs from Isaiah's story, but the theme is the same. So you're saying when Jesus started this, they're instantly thinking Isaiah 5. Right. Yeah, I think so too. Because Isaiah 5 says, he built a vineyard, he dug all around it, removed its stones, planted it with a vine, built a tower in the middle of it, hewed out a wine vat, right?

It's exactly the same thing. And if you're not familiar with that passage, do go look at it after we finish this because it's really fascinating. And you want to read all the way through verse 7 of Isaiah 5.

Okay, so back to – Let's go back to our vineyard. Back to our vineyard, chapter 21. So in verse 34, so 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 and killed another and stoned another. And 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's kill him and have his inheritance. And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Okay, let's stop there for a second. So that's the whole story.

But let's just summarize what he said. So this guy owns the vineyard, right? He gets it all ready for it to be productive, and he doesn't work it himself.

Not an uncommon thing at the time. So he hires tenant farmers who can come in, and they get to till the land. They get to do all the things they do to pick the grapes, even to make wine out of it. They can do all of these things out of the expenses of this guy who made this place. And so rightfully so, the owner should come back and say, well, you owe me part of your crop. That's how they pay for it. Right, a share of the crops. And routinely, it was 10%. In fact, that's where the 80 of tithe comes from, is 10%. So he sends back his emissaries to get this 10%, and they're treated quite poorly.

So yeah, not just poorly. It's interesting that these tenants are so interested in their own interests, their own pursuits, their own wealth, that they totally disregard and mistreat the representatives of the one who actually owns the field. Yeah, not only the representatives, but the son himself.

Well, yeah, he's coming later after a couple of rounds of representatives. Right, right, right. But their mistaken impression when the son comes is that, listen, the son's gonna inherit all this. If we kill the son, we can get all this stuff. In what universe does that happen? I know. You kill the heir and claim his stuff?

That's just, that's not legal in any universe that I know of. Exactly. So the story almost goes outrageous at the end.

It does. You know what I mean? But it's not unrealistic, but it does seem outrageous at the first thing. So because it ends, I stopped us right there in 39, because it ends right there at this outrageous point. They kill the son, they kill the heir, that's just nuttiness. So then in verse 40, Jesus asks them, so, putting yourself in the story. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?

And they said, right, they didn't miss a beat, they said to him, he'll put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons. Exactly. That's the obvious answer. That's the obvious answer, that's exactly right.

Of course that's exactly what you do. So it's a nice, realistic thing, but the outcome killing the son is just so over the top. They don't even have to think about it, you know. But if you think about it, the Pharisees and the Sadducees had already begun to hatch the plot to kill Jesus.

So this is very obviously, he's tipping his hand, I know what you are about. Right. And they don't know that this is all about them. Well, it says by the end that they think they do know what he's talking about. I think at this point when they protest in the story saying, you know, well that's just wrong, they don't understand they're talking about themselves, about who's it. And then the light dawns.

Yeah, ding. So then at that point when they weigh in rationally. Right, they give the right answer. That's the right answer, that's exactly what, that's the answer Jesus was expecting, there's nothing wrong with it, that's exactly right. So then Jesus starts his application. Jesus always spends almost as much time on application as he does the story. So verse 42, let me take us into that.

Sure. Jesus starts his application by quoting from the Old Testament. So 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's marvelous in our eyes.

And at this point I think they're thinking, what exactly is he talking about here? This is from. Psalm 118. Psalm 118, very popular. Full of messianic images and it's interesting that just a few days before they had actually sung this psalm as Jesus was coming into town, because right after the cornerstone part it goes into, oh Lord save, oh Lord beseech, right, this is the Lord's doing, it's marvelous in our eyes. Yeah, yeah.

So this is a very big deal. So Psalm 118 is about the Messiah King who's coming and it's because if you back up into verse 22 right here, this Messiah King as a stone will be rejected. Right. Whoa, wait a second. You gotta wonder how they interpreted that before the actual event, right?

What was their thinking about this Old Testament psalm? Yeah, but it's very clear he's applying it to them and he does not have to explain it too much. Now he's gonna explain it a little bit in 43 because this is sinking in. Right.

They know that he's talking about that. They are rejecting the cornerstone just like they rejected the sun in the story. Okay, so we probably should talk about the cornerstone in a minute because the cornerstone is really important even today. The cornerstone in a stone building is the one you put in from which everything else is measured. Right. Right, from which all the right angles are measured.

It tells you where the corner is and dictates where those walls go. Right, right, right. Big deal. So it's foundational, it's fundamental, it's first, it's primary, everything else is built on it.

You miss this, you miss the building. Well everything else is judged by it. Exactly. Right. Yeah, so in 43 he brings the application a little closer to home and he says, therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. We're the ones in the story that have the vineyard being taken away from us, yes. And then he ties in the stone from Psalm 118, you know, he says, and the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces and when it falls on anyone, it'll crush him. Well and those actually are kind of veiled references to the other stone passages in Isaiah. And there are others. There's one in 814, there's one in 2816 of Isaiah.

So I would encourage you, look in your cross reference column in your Bible to the places that Jesus is referring to because good Old Testament students in his day would have recognized he's alluding to those passages even though he's not directly quoting them. Right, but they would ring a bell as soon as they hear this about this rock. And the rock, this stone is always an irresistible force and power, it will crush you. And so we're talking about something, someone of great power. So this one of great power, this cornerstone upon which everything is built who has great power who will crush, he's the one that's being overlooked.

Just like in the case of Jesus, he's being overlooked. And so as a result, mixing the two metaphors together, the stone and the vineyard, he says just very directly, if they haven't been following him in 43, look, the kingdom will be taken away from you and given to people who actually will produce its fruits. Yeah, and given the other parables, right, those fruits from the parable of the two sons, those fruits are repentance and belief. That's what is expected because that's what the tax collectors and the prostitutes did in the previous parable. Yeah, because the fruit in the kingdom of heaven isn't about material things that can be produced at all.

It's about what's produced in the hearts of men. And that's what needs to be produced. In fact, Jesus later on will condemn the Pharisees and say, you know, you guys are really good at doing the small details in the law. I mean, you do all these little material things and they're really, really tiny, but you do even the tiniest stuff really well, but you're missing the big stuff.

Missing the point. Like justice and mercy. You're missing the big things, things that ought to be characteristic of your heart if you're a person of God, because that's part of God's heart, especially mercy, and you don't have that.

You do the tiny things, you miss the big things. So as leaders of the vineyard, and you know, a vineyard is always, Old Testament-wise, is a very powerful image of God's people of Israel. Well, actually, that's what Isaiah 5.7 says.

That's what it says, straight up. The vineyard of God, God's vineyard is Israel and Judah. So that's why it's important to read that Isaiah passage, because they would have, that passage would have played in their heads when he starts to experience it. And so the fruitfulness in the people of Israel is the change of their hearts, is shaping their hearts to be more like God's heart. Like it says in Ezekiel 36, Ezekiel 11, about the softening of the heart. Because they belong to God.

Right, right. And that's the produce of God's people. That's what the Pharisees are supposed to be somehow evoking in the hearts of the nation of Israel, is hearts like God's heart. That's why David was such a great choice to be king, because he was a man after God's own heart. And God wants to see that replicated in everyone. In terms of his repentance. Yes, yes.

Not because he was perfect or sinless. Nope, nope, nope. But it's, the fruits are heart fruits. That's what we're talking about. And in 44, when he mixes the metaphor about the stone, he says, you know, this kingdom's going to be taken away from you, and the force and power of this irresistible stone will crush and with force change all of this.

You know, that's a huge picture, right? If you think that you're just booking it along a path, say you're hiking in the mountains and you come to a granite boulder that has fallen into the path. Immovable. It's immovable.

You are going to smack right into it. You must deal with it. You must either go around it. You can't ignore it. You have to deal with it. Or climb over it.

You have to stand on it, right? You can't ignore it. It stops your forward progress. You can't keep going the way you were going.

Yep, yep. So it's like he's saying, if you mix these metaphors, these stories together, it's like he's saying you were put in charge of God's people. Or in a way, you were made under shepherd, the great shepherd of God's people. You were tenant farmers. You were tenant farmers. Of God's vineyard.

Exactly, yeah. And you didn't do the right things. You didn't produce fruit that God was looking for in his people.

Now, indeed, you began to regard the vineyard as yours and use it for your own purposes. And actually Ezekiel talks about that in great depth about the shepherds of Israel eating the sheep and using their wool. Right. And these are not your sheep, so what are you doing?

You're supposed to be carrying them. Yeah, so in both these cases here. And then the change. The change is going to be so remarkable and so irresistible. It's like a gigantic stone. God puts it in the way and there's no way you guys are going to resist this change.

It's just going to happen. And now it's interesting if I kind of take my microscope and look at this verse 43 just a little bit. Look how he says it'll be taken away from you, the leaders, and given to a people producing its fruits. So when he says a people, he's no more implying the ethnic state of Israel when he says a people. In other words, he's opening up the prospect of the Gentiles. Right. Now it's not instead of the Israelites, but it is kind of in addition to. That's what he's saying. It's going to be opened up to a people.

Well a people formed after God's heart, not according to their ethnic entitlement. Right. Exactly. And so this is again one of those other places where Jesus hints very strongly at the fact that the Jews are not the sole people of God, that they're going to be joined by the Gentiles. Right. And so it helps us if we understand that these cornerstone passages that we just looked at and the one here are the three passages that are picked up by the New Testament writers as really what is the significance of this cornerstone. And since we're talking about the Gentiles being included, probably the best one to look at is in 1 Peter 2. And this again may be in the cross reference column.

I had that same one. We have all the same verses. Isn't that amazing? Great minds thing together. And we do not collude before we make these. Peter says, and this is verse 4 of chapter 2 in 1 Peter, and coming to him as to a living stone rejected by men but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, and he's talking to a Gentile audience here, you also as living stones are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. This is contained in scripture. Behold I lay a Zion, a choice stone, a precious cornerstone and he who believes in him shall not be disappointed.

This precious value then is for you who believe, any who believe, Jew or Gentile. In reality, the coming of Jesus onto the historical timeline of mankind was like this gigantic stone falling out of heaven. So much changed. In fact, it's one of the arguments I make for people all the time about who Jesus is because he's just spent three short years in public ministry and afterwards the entire culture of that part of the world turned upside down.

I mean just upside down. And so irresistible in a sense and it moved without armies, it just, it was just a gigantic effect. If this is not the Son of God, then you have to come up with some equivalent explanation for something this big to happen. It was this stone that couldn't be resisted. And in fact, it turns out that the leaders in Israel when you get to 70 AD lost their temple and lost their roles in the sacrifices, lost their roles in everything that had been instituted in Jerusalem, it was just gone. And to this very day then, that kind of sacrificial Levite service is just not there anymore.

It's just gone. So in a way that stone came and busted it all apart. So it's a powerful metaphor. It's a powerful metaphor. And Jesus constantly in his three years of ministry said, look, what you need to do is you need to decide who I am. Who I am is everything.

Will you believe who I am? And that's the work of God, he says in Gospel of John. What do we need to do to do the works of God? Well, you need to believe in the one who sent him and here we are.

And it's interesting that Peter, stay back at 1 Peter again, he goes with that same idea picking up in verse 7 of 1 Peter 2, he says, but for those who disbelieve, the stone which the builders rejected has become the very cornerstone and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word. Yep. Right?

They hear the word and they reject it. Yep. Yeah. It's a powerful change is in the air. And it's this stone that cannot be resisted.

And the reason is because the vineyard is not fruitful. And so that leadership is being taken away. Yeah. And God has done everything required for it to be fruitful. Exactly. He's made the place. He's given the land. He's made all the preparations and expected that those that he entrusted it to would make it fruitful.

Yeah. And in contrast, after the coming of Jesus, especially when you talk about the Gentiles being added and stuff like that, you see radical transformation in the hearts of a very wild, crude people all across the world. I mean, you see radical heart changes. And this is exactly the fruit. This is the fruitfulness God was looking for. And with King Jesus as a Messiah who has come and his Holy Spirit that spreads that word, you do see, in fact, gigantic harvestable fruit in the hearts of people that hear about Jesus.

And that's exactly what you'd expect. Always characterized by repentance, a turning away from self and a turning toward God. Yep. Yep. Well, so to wrap this up, did they get it?

We're back to verse 45. Well, when the chief priests of the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them, you think? And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds because they held him to be a prophet.

Oh, wow. The crowds held him to be a prophet. So I think they got it. Well, certainly they did. But these guys who were actively hatching a death plot didn't know how to do it without making a riot, without causing the people to break out in an uproar. Because remember, and it's become very clear in the gospel story a little later on, that the Romans were all about keeping the peace. All about peace.

Yep. Keep the peace. Keep the peace. And the Jews were not happy with the Roman-imposed peace and were prone to having riots for all kinds of reasons. They call it the Pax Romana.

That's right. And forced peace. Forced peace. Facing a sword. So the Jewish leaders realize, uh-oh, if we let a mob get out of hand, it's going to cost us something.

Right? We're going to bring down the wrath of the Romans. We're going to be in big trouble.

So we have to be very careful how we handle this. Well, and the flip side of the coin is that they realize that the people, as a populace, are following Jesus more than they're following these leaders. So if we do something to harm that leader, we suddenly turn the ire of all these people against us.

Not only are we losing in terms of followers in Judaism, but we'll lose all of them and we'll have a riot and it'll be the end. So whether the people take us down or whether Rome takes us down, we've got to be careful how we take him down or it'll all fall apart for us. So that puts them in kind of a sneaky mode to figure out how do you kill Jesus without invoking the ire of the people and without invoking the ire of Rome.

You've got to do it so it's not going to disrupt the peace at all. And this is all unfolding in just a couple of days before the cross. So events are moving very fast. Jesus is speaking very pointedly to the religious leaders, but he's also speaking to those people who are listening to him. And I think, although we don't have substantiation in this passage, I think the crowds were listening to this parable. They're watching the interchange between Jesus and the leaders and how he says, listen, the kingdom's going to be taken away from you. I mean, they see all this going down and in their hearts probably they're all cheering because yeah, that's exactly how the Messiah ought to talk, you know, because these guys have done his dirt for years. But they hear this and as a result, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the leaders of the nation, they know their goose is cooked if they don't do something here. Clearly Jesus is on a path to unseat them and they got to do something, but they got to do it just right.

And that's what they're going to work on. So we're going to get another parable next week, again, a parable that is right in the face of the religious leadership. And it's a little different picture. This parable is about whose vineyard is it and if you reject the son, you reject the father, right?

If you reject the representative, you reject the owner of the field. But the one that's coming is about a wedding feast, which is a little different picture. It's more relational. It's more about love than it is about authority.

Right, right. And the problem isn't, like in this case, the problem isn't bad fruitfulness. The next time, the problem is about rejecting invitations, rejecting good things from God. Who in the world would reject good things, great invitations, you know, an invitation to a party? And I mean, who would ever do that?

Who would reject good that's being offered for free? And that is the ultimate offense to God. So that's what we're going to look at next time at the wedding feast. I was just going to tell you why this particular parable is so important because it impressed on me early in my life the fact that we all as human beings live on this ball we call the earth. It's God's creation. He made this in a sense, in a larger sense, this whole place is his vineyard and we live here and when we're like tenant farmers in God's creation. And so when Paul talks about people who don't respect who God is and who are not thankful, this is out of Romans one, he says there's enough in this large tenant farm of earth that should give you a clue about the fact that some, some owner has made this for your benefit and for your joy and your automatic, no, not your automatic, your necessary response ought to be thankfulness.

Oh, right. You owe him something. And yet so many in the world say there is no God, I owe nobody anything.

And yet this, this would tend to say, no, it's just not true. You're living in God's creation. You have a lot to thank him for and you're just taking advantage of it. And he's actually continually sending you messengers. Exactly.

And you do not receive them without violence. So anyway, yeah, come back next week and we'll turn the, we'll turn the table a little bit on the parables, but we'll talk more about the fact that God is giving us great things and wonderful invitations and many of us just stiff arm and say, Nope, I don't think so. So anyway, I'm Jim and I'm Dorothy and we're glad you're with us. Come back next time on More Than Ink. There are many more episodes of this broadcast to be found at our website, morethanink.org. And while you're there, take a moment to drop us a note. Remember the Bible is God's love letter to you. Pick it up and read it for yourself and you will discover that the words printed there are indeed more than ink. Confrontation Jesus style. This has been a production of Main Street Church of Rhythm City.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-11 14:16:53 / 2023-11-11 14:29:08 / 12

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