There is a parable that makes me question how smart God really is, and yes, I know I’m walking on the fine line here, but hang in with me for a few minutes. It’s the parable of the Wicked Tenants” found in Matthew 21:33-46. In the parable, the landowner rents his land which produced wine to some tenants. In the fall he sends some servants to get his share of profits. They not only don’t do this, but they beat up the servants and send them away. The landowner tries again with the same results. So, he decides to send his son, hoping the tenants would act differently towards his own son. But they take the son, cast him out of the property and kill him.
What would lead this landowner to send his beloved son, hoping this time that the tenants would finally wake up and change their ways? There is only one answer I can come up with: LOVE. The landowner for reasons totally unbeknown to me, loved the tenants so much, and wanted them to change their ways so badly, that he was willing to risk his beloved son.
In the past God sent us the prophets, we did not listen; instead, we beat them up and sent them away. God sent his Holy Word, we mocked it, spit on it and cast it away. But God would stop trying! He loved us too much. So, one day in heaven he said, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved son, perhaps they will respect him.” Perhaps; but why take the chance? The only answer I can come up with is “love.” Perhaps in sending his own beloved son, we would wake up and change our ways and turn to Him, but that’s an awfully big “perhaps.”
In the story of Jesus, we find out that we are no different than the evil tenants in the parable: We rejected God’s son, cast him out of Jerusalem, hung him on a cross and killed him. Yet, even there on the cross, we find such a deep sense of love for humanity that Jesus says, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do? Don’t send down your wrath. Perhaps in this event, they will see how much I love them.”
E. V. Hill was a pastor serving a church in the Watts area of Los Angles during the riots in the 1960s. He did a painful thing; he denounced his neighbors who were destroying property and stealing from area merchants. During the worst part of the rioting, this kind of preaching brought threats to him and his church.
One night his telephone rang and his wife noticed how serious and solemn he was after the caller hung up. “What as that all about?” she asked.
“Oh nothing,” he replied.
His wife kept pressing him until he finally told her. “They have threatened to blow up our car with me in it.”
The next morning, Dr. Hill went into the kitchen and noted that his wife was not in the house. Neither was his automobile in the carport. He became alarmed; but a few minutes later he saw the car roll into the driveway with his wife at the wheel.
She had driven the car around the block to make sure it would be safe for her husband to drive later that morning. “From that day on,” said Dr. Hill, “I have never again asked my wife if she loved me.”
Perhaps when we look at the cross this coming Holy week, we will see what it is really all about, and never again doubt how much God loves us.
Perhaps, this year.