Speaking of Life 5046 | Trash and Treasure
You’ve heard the phrase, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There are numerous stories of people purchasing something at a rummage sale that proved to be quite valuable. I collect coins, and I’ve been fortunate to find a few coins that someone else has discarded because they didn’t see the value in the coin.
Jesus tells a parable to a group of chief priests and Jewish elders about people destroying something valuable because they didn’t know its worth. In this parable, the thing of value is a person. The parable is in Matthew 21 , and Jesus talks about a landowner who built a vineyard and then leased the vineyard to some tenants. When harvest time came, he decided to send some servants to collect his portion of the harvest. The tenants killed the servants. He sent more servants, and they killed them as well. Finally, he decided to send his son, saying, “They will respect my son.” But the tenants killed the son as well. Jesus then asked these religious leaders the following:
Now when 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 lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”
Jesus 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’? “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces its fruits.
Matthew 21:40-43 (NRSVUA)
Jesus’ parable, of course, is a summary of God’s relationship with Israel and Judah. He sent a number of prophets to his beloved people to encourage them to return to him, and these prophets were often tortured and killed. The religious leaders were quite familiar with their history. Jesus was letting them know that he knew his future, that he would be killed by the very people God chose so many generations before. And shortly after delivering this parable, the Jewish leaders did just what the parable predicted, they killed the one sent to deliver them.
And the rest of Jesus’ words also came to pass. Killing Jesus did not bring them the victory they might have anticipated, instead, it started a kingdom work that is still going and still growing.
Beginning with Abraham, God gave the opportunity to a few to participate with him in showing others who he truly is – a Father who loves his children. Later he chose the nation of Israel and told them they were chosen to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. We know the history. They continued to rebel and disobey God to the point that they rejected the very Son of God and crucified him.
In this parable, Jesus is telling them they are no longer the ones God entrusts to share his kingdom’s message of mercy and grace. Now the message has been entrusted to those who believe – Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female – all who believe and follow Jesus.
Others may look down on us because of whom we follow; they don’t see the value of being a believer. They might see what they consider trash. But God sees treasure, and he has invited you and me to participate in his kingdom work – sharing the love and life of Jesus with others. May we live as the treasured of God and bear the kind of fruit that brings glory to him.
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.