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An Appeal to Guard Your Heart Against Hardness

On Palm Sunday, Jesus was welcomed by the cheers of the people. As He entered Jerusalem He paused and sobbed bitter tears over how the people of Israel had rejected Him. Over the next few days, He taught openly in the temple courts. The religious leaders tried unsuccessfully to entrap Him with trick questions. In the midst of these questions, He told a parable that was a scathing indictment against the
failure of the Jewish people to accept Him.  We know it as the Parable of Tenants.  A brief synopsis of the story goes something like this:  A landowner rented his vineyard out to some tenants. On three separate occasions he sent a servant to collect the rent.  Each time the tenants beat the servant up and sent him away empty-handed. Then the landowner sent his son, thinking the tenants would surely respect him.  But the tenants killed the son, thinking that if they eliminated him, they would inherit the vineyard.  Then Jesus asks his hearers, “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others” (Luke 20:15-16).

When Jesus finished telling this parable, the people were so shocked, they cried out, “Oh, no! Surely not!” They didn’t see themselves as rejecting God’s messengers, and certainly not His Son.  But in verse 19, we're told that the scribes and the Pharisees knew that Jesus was talking about them as He told this
parable. And they started plotting on how to get rid of Him. Jesus’ indictment is for the hardness of His own people's hearts to the Word of God, to the message of God, the messengers of God, and ultimately to the Beloved Son in His ministry. They are rejecting God but they do not realize it.

This parable is just as relevant to us today as it was to the people to whom Jesus first spoke it.  Here’s why.  In Western culture today, we have been just like the wicked tenants in the parable.  We have been blind to our sin and we have been bold in our rejection of God. One of the reactions to those waves of unbelief from within Christian churches has been to say, “You know, the message of Christianity doesn't work anymore. We've got to improve it and update it so that it's more appealing to our culture, or else Christianity will die out. We've got to save Christianity and the only way to do that is to change the
message so that the church can continue on.” That's never ever the right answer. And Jesus tells you one of the reasons why here. The kingdom will prevail.

The question, as we face the issue of the rejection of the truth in our own time and in our own our own hearts, is not whether God's kingdom will prevail. His kingdom will prevail. The question is, “Will we
participate in its inheritance?”  In a matter of a few days, Jesus will be crucified.  He knows that day is fast
approaching, so He is dealing with the people about matters of the heart. He's asking them to look at their own hearts and recognize their sin, recognize their predicament, recognize their need. He's asking them to look at their God and see what He's like. He is ready to forgive and He is patient. He's asking them to reckon with a certain judgment that is to come and be encouraged by the fact that He is going to build His church and the gates of hell are not going to prevail against it. The Parable of the Tenants is an appeal to guard your heart against hardness. It was vitally
important not only for people in those days to understand; it is vitally important
for us to understand, too.