Jesus’ Words Got Him in Trouble
Palm Sunday – the triumphant entrance into Jerusalem was short lived. As soon as Jesus arrived there were some in the crowd causing trouble. There were some Pharisees in the crowd – with the purpose to discredit Jesus. Luke 19:39-40 tells us that 39 Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control! “But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.” (The Message).
Jesus knew what was in store for Him – He had told His disciples that He had to die. He knew that He was in trouble and He knew that His words were going to have a sting to them. In other words His mouth was going to cause Him a major problem. Let’s look at a few things He said during the glorious entry into Jerusalem and right after it. We won’t cover the whole week just the beginning of the week. Listen as Karen reads 3 accounts that helped angered the religious leaders of the day.
Luke 20:1-8 (NIV)
1 One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. 2 "Tell us by what authority you are doing these things," they said. "Who gave you this authority?" 3 He replied, "I will also ask you a question. Tell me, 4 John's baptism--was it from heaven, or from men?" 5 They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Why didn't you believe him?' 6 But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet." 7 So they answered, "We don't know where it was from." 8 Jesus said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."
Luke 20:20-26 (NIV)
20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" 23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 "Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?" 25 "Caesar's," they replied. He said to them, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." 26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.
Mark 12:28-34 (NIV)
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." 32 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Most of us are pretty familiar with product warning labels. It seems like almost everything has a warning labels on it today. A warning label, however obvious the warning may be, is designed to keep us from harm. There are some warning labels that really make a person question the intelligence of American consumers:
- On a hairdryer: DO NOT USE WHILE SLEEPING.
- The label on irons says: WARNING! NEVER IRON CLOTHES WHILE WEARING THEM.
- The label on a Dremel Rotary Tool says: THIS PRODUT IS NOT INTENDED FOR USE AS A DENTAL DRILL.
- A warning label on a pair of Superman pajamas: WARNING! THIS GARMENT DOES NOT ENABLE WEARER TO FLY.
- On a Microwave: WARNING DO NOT USE FOR DRYING PETS
- On an infant's bathtub: DO NOT THROW BABY OUT WITH BATH WATER.
- On a cup of McDonald's coffee: ALLOW TO COOL BEFORE APPLYING TO GROIN AREA.
On the Sunday before the crucifixion, Jesus was welcomed by the cheers of the people and, over the next few days, He taught openly in the temple courts. But everywhere He turned, there were Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees who opposed Him, challenged Him, and plotted against Him. And so Jesus provides a sort of “warning label” in the form of the parable about a landowner and tenant farmers. Here’s what he says:
Luke 20:9-19 (The Message)
The Story of Corrupt Farmhands
9-12 Jesus told another story to the people: “A man planted a vineyard. He handed it over to farmhands and went off on a trip. He was gone a long time. In time he sent a servant back to the farmhands to collect the profits, but they beat him up and sent him off empty-handed. He decided to try again and sent another servant. That one they beat black-and-blue, and sent him off empty-handed. He tried a third time. They worked that servant over from head to foot and dumped him in the street.
13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘I know what I’ll do: I’ll send my beloved son. They’re bound to respect my son.’
14-15 “But when the farmhands saw him coming, they quickly put their heads together. ‘This is our chance—this is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all to ourselves.’ They killed him and threw him over the fence.
15-16 “What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Right. He’ll come and clean house. Then he’ll assign the care of the vineyard to others.”
Those who were listening said, “Oh, no! He’d never do that!”
17-18 But Jesus didn’t back down. “Why, then, do you think this was written:
That stone the masons threw out—
It’s now the cornerstone!?
“Anyone falling over that stone will break every bone in his body; if the stone falls on anyone, it will be a total smashup.”
19 The religion scholars and high priests wanted to lynch him on the spot, but they were intimidated by public opinion. They knew the story was about them.
When Jesus finished telling this parable there was no doubt who He was talking about and who He was directing His warning to. There He goes – now His mouth gets Him in real trouble.
- “The teachers of the law and the leading religious leaders wanted Jesus gone. He was becoming a royal pain to them.
- For many years now these religious leaders practiced a godless religion. Their rites, rules and rituals became a substitute for truly knowing God.
- They weren’t using the product, The Law, for its intended purpose.
- But Jesus came to earth to show us what God is really like. In this parable, He reveals four foundational aspects of the nature of God – along with a warning label for anyone who thinks they follow God on their rules no god’s rules.
- This parable may have been what pushed the religious – holy than you guys – over the edge.
I. GOD’S PROPERTY: First, Jesus reveals God’s property. At the beginning of the parable, Jesus said, “A man planted a vineyard and leased it to some farmers” (vs. 9).
A. The owner of the vineyard is God – He doesn’t just own this vineyard – He owns everything.
1. Psalm 50:10 (NIV) for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
2. Psalm 24:1 (NLT) The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.
3. God owns even the hills – in other words this is God’s world and we are His tenants. We don’t own anything.
B. And do you know what else that means? We’re living on His planet, we’re breathing His air, and we’re eating His food.
1. The clothes on our back — made from His cotton.
2. The gas in our cars — derived from his fossil fuels.
3. We don’t even own ourselves — the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, and the carbon in our genes were produced by God.
4. The stars that stretch across the cosmos produced by God. Even those star systems we are just discovering made by God.
5. God gives us our abilities. God gives us our resources. God gives us our skills and talents.
6. God gives us opportunities.
7. God gives us life and strength and energy. God gives us our homes and families.
8. We owe him everything we have and everything we are—our life, our soul, our all belongs to Him.
C. The tenants in the parable, however, didn’t see it that way. When it came time to pay back a portion of the harvest—to give God his due—they refused. They thought, “This is our vineyard. We till the soil. We tend the vines. We harvest the grapes. We don’t owe him anything.”
D. And, sadly, many people go through life with that very same attitude toward God. We’d rather not even think about God or what He’s done for us. We just go our own way, putting confidence in our own abilities to work out our own destinies. We proudly say, “It’s my life and I’m going to live it anyway I want.” BUT IT IS NOT YOUR OWN LIFE IT WAS CREATED BY GOD FOR GOD’S PURPOSES!
E. We forget that we are just tenants who live here in this world for a short time. God owns the vineyard, everything it contains, the world, and those who live in it.
F. Thankfully, God doesn’t want to give up on us. He gives us plenty of time and opportunity to change our hearts. That leads us to the second aspect of God’s nature revealed in this parable—God’s patience.
II. GOD’S PATIENCE - As the story continues, Jesus says that the land-owner sent three servants to collect the portion of the produce that rightfully belonged to him, and each time the tenants “beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed” (vs. 11).
A. Now, it’s important to remember that this parable was given specifically to the religious leaders of Israel. These messengers, therefore, represent the Old Testament prophets. In the Old Testament, God sent numerous prophets to Israel to warn them of the dangers of rejecting God authority over their lives. Most of the prophets were abused and hated when they were alive.
1. Elijah was threatened by a wicked queen,
2. Jeremiah was thrown into a pit to die,
3. Amos was scorned and ridiculed.
4. The messages of the prophets were never valued until years after they died. Someone once said, “Prophets, poets, and pigs have one thing in common—they aren’t truly appreciated until they’re dead.”
B. But despite their miserable treatment, God continued to send his prophets—warning Israel to repent and return to God. God demonstrated surprising patience with them. Hasn’t He done the same for us?
C. All those times we’ve spurned His affection, rejected His invitation, or accepted Him with lip service and walked out that door and denied him by our lifestyle; surely God has ample reason to unleash his anger. But he doesn’t. Why? Because, “God is being patient with us!”
1. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
III. GOD’S PERSISTENCE - As the story continues, even though his servants had been rejected and abused, the owner of the vineyard takes an astonishing, extraordinary measure: “The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What will I do now? I will send my son whom I love. Maybe they will respect him.’” (vs. 13)
A. Despite all that would happen—knowing what happened to the many servants who came before Him—God, because of His great love, sent His cherished Son to the earth.
B. Can you comprehend that? There is only one God and He has only one Son, and He loves us so much He sent that only Son to reconcile the debt. So what do the tenants do? Did they go running out to meet God’s Son and fall at His feet in surrender? No, they killed Him.
C. This parable not only highlights the truth about God’s character; it reveals the truth about the utter wickedness of the human heart. The tenants of the vineyard did not kill the owner’s son in the spontaneous heat of the moment; they made a calculated decision. They thought that by killing the son, they could claim ownership of the vineyard.
D. That’s what is so amazing about God’s love. I am a sinner by nature and by choice, but God still loves me in spite of my sin. He loves you enough that He sent His Son to die for you. Even if you were the only sinner in the world, he still would have come—just for you. How can you resist that kind of loving persistence?
E. So is the kind of persistence that drove Jesus to the cross. There he demonstrated just how far God would go to win your heart. Sadly, that’s not the end of the story. The story doesn’t end with repentance and rejoicing. Rather, it ends with God’s punishment.
IV. GOD’S PUNISHMENT - At the end of the story, Jesus asks a question: “What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them?” (vs. 15) But before the listeners had a chance to respond, he answered His own question: “He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others” (vs. 16).
A. This parable originally applied to Israel. These religious leaders rejected Jesus and plotted his assassination. And because of their actions, God ended his covenant with Israel and allowed the Roman army to march on Jerusalem.
1. 40 years after Jesus warned God’s people the warning was carried out by Rome. In 70 AD the once-holy temple, the city itself, and everyone inside was destroyed.
2. With Jesus’ death, God began a new covenant open to anyone who would become His disciples.
3. Thus, this prophetic parable was fulfilled.
B. The punishment of the Jews who rejected Jesus, points us toward an even more apocalyptic punishment looming on the horizon. Earlier I mentioned 2 Peter 3:9: “God is being patient with you.” We cannot, however, overlook the verse that follows it: 2 Peter 3:10 (NIV) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
C. God’s love and patience are immeasurable, but so is God’s holiness and justice. He simply cannot allow evil to continue forever. Who would want Him to? And so there will be a day, sooner or later, when the King returns and He will deal with those who are not following His Son.
D. Peter uses cataclysmic terms when he says, “the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed” (2 Peter 3:7 NLT).
Warnings not to use a Dremel for at-home dentistry may seem obvious and unnecessary, but all of us need to seriously consider Jesus’ warning. The earth and everything in it is God’s property—including the Church.
- This parable applies to the Church as well as it applied to Israel.
- It also applies to us. And God is patiently waiting for us to figure that out.
- He even sent his Son to show just how far he would go to win our hearts! But if we continue to reject his persistent love and his ownership over our lives, punishment is waiting.
Maybe you’ve been holding back from God. Maybe you haven’t been ready to give him your life, your soul, your all. But when you consider what God has given you, his patience, and persistence—love so amazing, so divine demands nothing less. If you’re ready to surrender your life to God today, come talk with me while we stand and sing.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.