Producing a Harvest of Love

Normally, when people read a story about good and evil they seek to assign blame to those who are the evil characters by pointing out their various evil deeds, words, and even the types of people who are in the group that are described as the bad ones.

In doing so, that story serves as a kind of litmus test of how to tell who the evil people are and where they come from. It’s also an easy way to point out which people are bad, and which are good simply by using the model presented to them in the story or by the way that they have chosen to explain the story according to their own predisposition.

The Bible reading from Matthew 21:33-46 is a parable about a landowner and his vineyard, and it has often become an outline of how to falsely blame the ancient Jewish people from Jesus’ time, as well as shifting that blame onto the present-day Jewish leaders and Jewish people, for rejecting Jesus. I feel that Jesus, who was both a Jew and one who dearly loved Jewish people, would never tell a story meant to teach people about God, which would also teach people to hate Jews. Most of the people Jesus interacted with were Jewish, including his own family.

The way that we should interpret this parable is as a guide for what Jesus wants us to do properly. You that have ears to hear, let them hear. The landowner wanted to be given his portion of the fruit harvested from his land by his leaseholders who worked on his vineyard, as agreed to. That did not happen. According to the parable, the actions of the leaseholders were not the way that most people in their position are taught to treat a landowner. And, the landowner’s response was not fully revealed.

I think that Jesus wanted those who heard the story to understand something that was life affirming but also life transforming, even if the parable seemed like a straightforward lesson about ungrateful and violent leaseholders and how the landowner responded to them, at least in part.

Does this sound familiar? During his teaching ministry, Jesus regularly pulled his listeners out of their normal way of thinking which completely upended their social, intellectual, and spiritual equilibrium. I believe this parable is pulling us to reach beyond our normal way of thinking as well, so we can find the deeper meaning that it holds.

I ask that you read the parable of the landowner and his vineyard in Matthew 21:33-46 and look for the lesson within the story that points to life and love, rather than to the condemnation of a group of people or a convenient label to place on certain other people who should be avoided at all costs. There is always more than one perspective on a story. When Jesus tell a parable, it always points to life!

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