Matthew 21:33-43 (NIV): “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
“The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
“But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
“He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
God’s agenda always has been and always will be the expansion of the kingdom of God: embracing more and more of the earth’s population, bringing them in, equipping them, and then sending them forth as workers in the harvest. The Jewish people in the time of Jesus had totally lost the vision that God gave to Abraham (Genesis 12:3b) for redeeming the world, and that He kept painting for the people of Israel. They were to be God’s people so whole-heartedly that they would join Him in saving the world! But they became a closed-in, self-satisfied society, sure of God’s love and of their salvation, even though they were not obedient to His vision to restore the world by restoring the hearts of people. So, since God’s mission was (and is!) critical, and since they were unwilling to be active in it, God took it from them, and gave it to a new people of God (the Church) who WOULD produce the fruit of the kingdom by participating in the harvest of ripe souls. What is God to do now with a people who are called by His name, but who have become a closed-in, self-satisfied society, sure of His love and of their salvation, even though they are not obedient to His vision to restore the world by restoring the hearts of the people? For large segments of the Church today, the harvest is seen as someone else’s job. Most Christians in America have never led a single person to Jesus. Some have only once or twice. This among a people that God has promised to give a thirty, sixty, and even a one hundred-fold multiplication (Matthew 13:32) if they would only devote themselves fully to the harvest! If people continue to opt out of the harvest, God will still take the kingdom from them and give it to those who WILL actively be involved in it! The work is that important; souls Jesus died for are being lost EVERY DAY because of the inactivity of God’s poeple.
Father, the tragedy of our inaction is so clear to see. We need more than Your forgiveness – we need to repent and to let you revive us entirely so that we are moved briskly into the harvest field to bring in the fruit of the kingdom for You. Start now to burn brightly in our midst, to recall us, to remake and reshape us, to fill us to overflowing with Your power to be a witness. Amen.