By Charles D. Earl
Former Director of Missions, Holston Valley Baptist Assoc., Rogersville

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: Matthew 21:33-45

Today’s lesson from Matthew 21:33-45 has the very important subject, “If I Reject Jesus?” The parable in modern language proceeds to tell the story about a man (God) who owned a vineyard, of which he was very proud. He prepared, fertilized the ground, and planted the seeds. Then he was called away on a business trip. When harvest time came he hired overseers (Jewish leaders) to oversee the harvest. They hired some slaves (the prophets of the Old Testament), but the overseers beat and killed the slaves! They hired other slaves and they also killed them! The owner (God) heard what had happened, so he decided to send his son (Jesus) thinking they surely wouldn’t kill his son! Instead of listening to and respecting his son (Jesus), when the overseers saw the owner (God) had sent his own son (Jesus), they plotted against his life and said, “Hey, he is the heir! Come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance!”(v. 38). So they scourged him and finally crucified him! As the story plays out we find that when the owner (God) discovered what those overseers (Jewish leaders) had done, people listening wondered what he would do with them. We are told in verses 42-44 that he took what they could have had and gave it to others!

Can you imagine what went through the minds of these chief priests and Pharisees as they listened to the parable and it suddenly dawned on them that He was talking about them! As with much of His teaching, the Jews were dumbfounded. They finally realized that He was talking about them! In verse 41 they pronounced their own sentence! They should be destroyed! They didn’t know Jesus was saying God was the owner, the slaves were the prophets,  the owner’s son was Christ, the promised Messiah, and they were the overseers who had killed Him! There He was standing right before their eyes telling them the parable and they did not even have the spiritual insight to recognize Him! The old adage is true that “there is none so blind as they who will not see.”

These unhearing, unbelieving Jews were really pronouncing judgment upon themselves in verse 41. In verse 42 Jesus was trying to tell the Jews that He was the stone they were rejecting. The kingdom and the spiritual blessings that would have been theirs if they had not been so blind and refusing to see, now would be given to others because of their spiritual blindness.

A  poll conducted recently revealed that many people now believe the simple act of presenting a Christian witness is now considered “extreme” conduct. I wonder if the present generation of our day is still so blind that they, like the Jews, cannot recognize who Jesus was and is, and what He was saying in this parable. Do we still suffer now in this century from the same spiritual blindness with which the Jews suffered in the first century? I think we can say the evil we see all around us is ample proof that we are as blind as those Jews were then.

Let us seek to let our lights so shine that men can see Him living in us.