‘Listen to another parable: there was a landowner who planted a vineyard…’ (Matthew 21:33-46)
Although Jesus parables ‘spoke’ to the people in terms that they were familiar with and in a way that they could understand, they did often vary in the manner of the detail within them. Some were fairly straightforward and to the point, whereas others contained lots of details within them, with each of these details having a significance. This parable is the latter of these.
As this story unfolds we learn so much about God; about His patience, His trust in us as human beings and His judgement. Here we find that God trusts us to carry out His will and His work and is patient with us when, because of our sinfulness, we fail to do so, but ultimately, if we continue in our sinful disobedience His judgement will be to give to someone else that task that He had called upon us to do. In terms of us living out our everyday lives of faith this is about as stern as it gets.
But if we look again at the parable we can add a caveat to this. To be called upon to play our part in the building up of God’s Kingdom is a wonderful privilege for us. Not only does it show the faith God has in us, but He will also provide us the means necessary to complete the task He has called us to, whilst at the same time allowing us free will to fulfil that task in the best way we see fit to do so. However, we are all answerable to God, and whilst we all make mistakes and at times behave in ways we should not, this parable warns us of the consequences of deliberate sinfulness.
Finally, this parable speaks to us of Jesus and contains one of the strongest and clearest claims in the Gospels as to Jesus true identity and mission, and the sacrifice that this would involves. Ultimately, however, Jesus would be cornerstone on which the Church, and ultimately our faith, would be established.