Matthew 21:33-46 (NRSV)
33"Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37Finally he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' 38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance." 39So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" 41They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time." 42Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes'? 43Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls." 45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.
“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you…”
It’s no wonder that the chief priests and the Pharisees wanted to arrest Jesus—how could they not after he so publicly announced God’s judgment on them? Who does this Galilean think he is, challenging their rights and status before God?
Ironically, we who are active church leaders and members make the very same mistake when we act as though our standing within the church is guarantor of our standing before God. Such confusion can lead us to shut out any outside voices that might threaten our authority—even God’s!
Therefore, we each must be aware of this double truth, that whether I am the loftiest of bishops or the least of these believers, I bring nothing of worth before God. And on the other hand, on account of Jesus Christ and the promises given to me, I am God’s child, God’s chosen beloved, one in whom God delights.
God of promise, in my baptism you have called me your own and given me a future. Put this promise at my core, that every other identity would be put in its proper place, through Jesus Christ. Amen.