2015-8-09 Rejecting Jesus

LUKE 20:9-19                                                                                            AUGUST 9, 2015


We have been blessed in this country because for much of our history being a Christian was not something considered strange or foreign. Churches grew simply by opening their doors and people came. The majority of our universities and hospitals were founded by Christians. Christians were the overwhelming majority in most places. However, in the last fifty years the vast majority of our universities, hospitals, and many other institutions are mainly staffed by secular humanists. Many of these institutions are even hostile to a biblical, Christian world view. The bible is no longer considered as the starting place in a search for what is true or what is to be of value. It is quite common for Christians to be portrayed or seen as being: strange, judgmental, bigoted, dumb, and hostile.

Much of the time we seek to defend ourselves by highlighting our love and concern, and good deeds. There at times when this response may be appropriate. However, I think we need to change how we respond to criticism and first seek to proclaim Christ.  Our primary goal should always be to point to Jesus, our Savior and Lord. We might even go on the offensive and ask them why they are so hostile to Jesus.

It is helpful to remember who our enemy is. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” People have always rejected Jesus and we know from our Old Testament history that the Jewish people have also continually rejected the LORD. We should not be surprised at the hostility expressed toward us because of Jesus. He faced this opposition and rejection andlet’s see how he responded.

Last week we looked at how all of the religious leaders had demanded to know the source of his authority. The Jewish leaders had already rejected John the Baptist and would not acknowledge that God had sent him. The people believed that John was a prophet. The leadership also refused to admit the truth of Jesus being sent from God. Jesus now tells a parable which answers their question about Jesus and the source of his authority.

Our first scripture reading was from a well known passage from Isaiah that speaks of Israel being like a vineyard with God being the owner. The vineyard only produced bad fruit in spite of all that God had done. Then God removed his protection and brought judgment by uprooting the vineyard. Jesus used this Old Testament parable and expanded it. This parable in Isaiah was well known to everyone, including the religious leaders.

It was a well known practice for a landowner to lease his land to others, to work the land. Vineyards were very expensive to operate for it would take a minimum of four to five years before one would see a harvest of grapes. The owner had to expend a lot of resources in order for a crop to be produced.  It was expected that those working the land would then give a portion of the harvest to the owner as payment.

Luke 20:9-10 (NIV) 9 He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed.”

When it came time for the vineyard to begin producing a harvest of grapes the owner sent a servant to collect his portion. The workers of the vineyard were self-centered and refused to give anything in payment. The owner shows great patience and sends another servant who is also mistreated and then he sends a third servant who is injured. By this time the people hearing this story from Jesus are expecting to hear how the owner sends soldiers to punish these wicked people. How often did God send the prophets to Israel warning them to repent and turn back to follow Him?

Jesus then goes on with the story. Luke 20:13-15 (NIV) 13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?” The identification of the son being the one he loved indicates that this is an only son.

It was not unusual for land to be passed on to the tenants if an owner did not have any children to inherit. How could these wicked farmers expect the owner to actually give them the land? They had already shown great arrogance in thinking they could ignore the owner’s rights. This reveals how twisted people can become. It was obvious to everyone that Jesus was accusing the leadership of rejecting God.

People in our world think that by rejecting Jesus that they are declaring their independence and that nothing will happen to them as a result of their choice. The religious leaders had this idea that if they get only get rid of Jesus that they could continue to live their lives as they had always done so.

Jesus asks the people what do they think is going to happen? Luke 20:15-16 (NIV) 15 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “May this never be!” God has shown great restraint with those who have rejected his Son. God’s patience will come to an end one day and then there will be judgment. The people cried out because they knew that Jesus was declaring that Israel was going to face judgment. This is why the people cried out, “May this never be!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem the disciples had declared praise quoting from Psalm 118. Now Jesus also quotes from that same passage. “Psalm 118 teaches that the righteous one rejected by others is exalted by God as the key figure.” (NIV Application Commentary) Luke 20:17-18 (NIV) 17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Everything has changed in our culture. Ridicule and persecution of Christians will continue to get worse. This does not mean we are to hide our faith and wait for things to get better. We must be bold and courageous and learn to speak out about our faith in Jesus. The religious leaders were fearful of losing what they had and refused to see the truth of Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus told us that there is a cost to being a believer.  Luke 9:23-26 (NIV) 23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Let us pray.