The Passion of Christ in the Gospel of Luke
A Guide to Meditation and Prayer
Week 2 - Day 4
God’s Expectation of Fruit
The Wicked Tenants
Meditation on Scripture- Read Luke 20:9-18 and write your reflections in the workbook. Use the summary below for further reflection on the passage. Prayer- Use the Guide for Prayer.
This is a parable about the nation of Israel and the religious leaders. It also serves as a warning against not bearing fruit for God. The image of the vineyard was a familiar symbol of the nation of Israel from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah 5 describes Israel as God’s vineyard that has not borne fruit. Isaiah details God’s punishment on the nation for their neglect of God’s requirements. Their exile in Babylonia would be God’s judgment on them.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah had spoken of God’s judgment on the nation but what would be the judgment now, in Jesus’ time, if the nation continued not to bear fruit? The answer of the parable is that God would give the vineyard to others! From our point of view, this is a clear foreshadowing of the inclusion of the Gentiles in the church of the future. In Jesus’ day it was also an indication that the kingdom of God would be taken from the religious leaders and given to common people who had faith, such as the disciples. That the wicked tenants beat the servants is a reference to the fates of the prophets and Jesus is clearly referencing himself when he talks about the son as he knew the religious leaders wanted to kill him. In the parable, the act of killing the son raised the ire of the father, so we should not be surprised that Christ’s death would at least do the same for his heavenly Father. The religious leaders recognized the horror of being displaced as the people of God and cried out, “Surely not.”
The quotation from Psalm 118:22 is an Old Testament verse foretelling that the Messiah would be rejected by those to whom he came. Yet he would still become the cornerstone of the new building of God. In the final saying, one breaking seems good, being of a humble, broken, and contrite spirit. On others however, the stone will fall to crush them. We think of the religious leaders in the parable as being among those who will be crushed because of their rejection of Christ, the Messiah.
Things to Consider –
· What fruit do you think God wants you to bear?
· In Isaiah 5, God wanted justice but found bloodshed. He wanted righteousness but found injustice. The people were greedy and drunkards. They called evil good and good evil. They were wise in their own eyes and took bribes. In what ways do you think this describes society or segments of it today?
· What does God want you to do that you are not currently doing?
· What does God want you not to do that you are currently doing?
· Are you discouraged when people reject Christ?
· Christ is called the Head of the Church in the New Testament. What does this image mean to you?
· Imagine Christ as the Head of the Church and you are part of his body. What part are you?
· When was the last time you felt broken before God? When have you last had a broken and contrite spirit?
Guide for Prayer –
· Close your eyes and take one full minute to calm your mind and gather your spirit.
· Thank God for the church. Thank him that you are a part of the fruit of the church. Think of one important aspect of your spiritual journey and thank God for it.
· Give thanks to God that he has planted you as part of his vineyard. Ask him to help you know what fruit you can bear for him? Think of one thing you might be able to do that would please him.
· Pray for a humble, contrite heart and a broken spirit. Thank God that he resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble your heart before God.
· Prayer to our Heavenly Father – Abba, Father, you expect my life to bear fruit. Help me not disappoint you.
· Prayer to Jesus – Lamb of God, you came not to be served but to serve, and to give your life a ransom for many. Help me find places to serve, as you did, and give me a heart to do so.
· Prayer to the Holy Spirit –Spirit of life, cause the fruit of the Spirit to grow in me: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
· Pray for the church universal and your local congregation. Pray for its worship, work, and witness. Pray for the church to bear fruit. Ask God, with Paul (Ephesians 4:15) that we might all grow up into Christ who is our Head.
· Take some moments to offer your own prayers to God. Offer whatever prayers and praises seem appropriate.