“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.” (Luke 20:13–15)
Selfishness. That’s what Jesus calls out. The religious ruling class did not like that Jesus had drawn such a crowd to Himself. They feared that He would eclipse them and become more important, more favored, better remembered. Wow, were they ever right! Control. That’s what they wanted. Complete and total control over the people and over the message broadcast to everyone in Jerusalem and Judea. But Jesus was having none of it. So He prophesies to them a parable about the very near future.
They weren’t playing around, though. They decided that it would be best if Jesus were … eliminated. Removed. Taken out of the equation. And He knows that’s what they were thinking, so He speaks these words, knowing full well that they would become true very soon. As painful as it would be, Jesus knew this was the only way to break their grip on religion. The only way to destroy their control and selfishness. He does the same to you. You cast Jesus out of the vineyard when you choose your own ideas over His Word or when you decide that you know better how to live than He does. Even when you turn your back on His preaching and go your own way. But He doesn’t leave you there.
He always confronts you with His truth, the truth of His Law and Gospel. He crushes you with His Law and shows you how you have failed Him and His Word. Then He gives you His Gospel. He hears your pleas for mercy, your cry of confession. He covers you with His Absolution and washes you in the blood of His forgiveness.
Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ, our head and cornerstone,
Chosen of the Lord and precious,
Binding all the Church in one;
Holy Zion’s help forever And our confidence alone.
(Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation, LSB 909:1)