SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- If you recall from yesterday's reading, Jesus had just publicly declared himself Messiah and threw corrupt leaders out of the temple. Religious leaders, shocked by all of this, respond by asking him who he is and why he is doing this. Instead of answering directly, he answers a question with a question, knowing they will refuse to answer.
- Jesus tells a parable. The land owner represents God, and the vineyard is his kingdom. The tenants were the religious leaders, and the servants that came to collect payment represent all of God's prophets that came before Jesus, including John the Baptist (whom we just saw beheaded a few chapters ago). Throughout the Old Testament, God repeatedly sent prophets to tell people truth and point people back to God, but they were usually ignored and mistreated. In this parable, Jesus predicts his own death. They were still determined to reject this truth and, ironically, plotted to kill him as he had just predicted.
- Throughout this chapter we see the religious leaders trying to catch Jesus "in his words." An example of this is his discussion with the Sadducees. The Sadducees, another religious sect, didn't believe heaven existed. They thought they could prove this through a discussion on marriage. However, Jesus surprises them by explaining that marriage is an earthly event that doesn't exist in heaven.
- Another example of attempted entrapment is when they ask Jesus if they should pay taxes. The Jews believed that the real Messiah would overthrow the government. According to this theory, if Jesus was the Messiah, he would say that Caesar deserves nothing. This would result in accusations of treason, and he could be arrested for attempting to overthrow Rome. However, Jesus did not come for political power. He makes it clear that we can obey both our political leaders and God by giving to both.
- The religious leaders had been asking Jesus questions all day. And now, he had an important question to offer back. Jesus quotes Psalm 110 and asks how the Christ can be both David's son and Lord (which means "master"). This was Jesus' way of clearing up confusion. The Jews were expecting a Messiah or "Son of David" that would look like King David himself. They believed he would defeat Israel's enemies. But Jesus is stating here that he is not like David. He is Lord over David. He is far greater than any earthly king.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Jesus knew the religious leaders cared more about money, politics, and influence than about discovering God and his will for their lives. Unlike these leaders, we should strive to love God and seek his will in our lives.
- Over the centuries, humanity has continually treated God's prophets and God's Son poorly. But God, in his love and grace, has never given up on his creation.
- There is one common thread in this chapter from start to finish: Jesus is Lord. He is Lord over the universe. And he doesn't look the way we want him to. He doesn't care about politics or power. He doesn't care about fame or show.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Do you ever find yourself caring more about money, influence, or the politics of the day than you do about God? It's easy to become distracted and live like we are "Lord." But, just like Psalm 110 says, only Jesus is Lord. We need to put him first in our lives in every way. What can you do today to put Jesus back in your life where he belongs?