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20/04/2011

Challenging the Tenants

Speaking in the Temple, the Lord Jesus Christ turning to the high priests, scribes, and elders of the people told them this parable.

There was a Landowner, Who planted a vineyard, set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country.

When the season of fruit drew near, He sent his servants to the tenants to get His fruit; and the tenants took His servants and beat one, killed the other, and stoned another. Again, He sent other servants, more than the first, and they did the same.

Afterward, He sent His only Son to them saying, "They will respect my Son."

But when the tenants saw the Son, they said to each other, "This is the Heir. Come, let us kill Him, and have His inheritance." And they took Him, and cast Him out of the vineyard, and killed Him."

Having told the parable, the Saviour asked them, "When, therefore, the Owner of the vineyard comes, what will He do to those tenants?"

They said to Him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give Him the fruits in their season."

Jesus emphasized their answer, saying, "Therefore, I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation which will produce the fruits of it."

Then, the chief priests and Pharisees with the elders understood that the Saviour was speaking about them. In a rage, they tried to arrest Him, but they feared the multitude because the multitude considered Him to be a prophet.

The challenge to religious authority has resonance now. We continue to live in communities, and in a society, in which there exists religious institutions who claim authority over others - by and large, humans continue to organise themselves into a hierarchy of holiness and righteousness, attaching themselves to lists of black & white beliefs handed down by their masters.

Jesus taught that all were equal in God's eyes - each one of us has an innate ability to personally experience God first-hand, to discover 'inner truth' and to live out a life of faith in our own way. This doesn't mean an anything goes free-for-all but it does mean spiritual freedom from human-made dogma.

Again I wonder, what would he make of the religious authorities in Britain?

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