Daily Reading & Meditation

 Sunday (October 8):  The stone which the builders rejected

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 21:33-43

33 "Hear another parable. There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; 35 and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. 37 Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, `They will respect my son.' 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.' 39 And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" 41 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 seasons."42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures: `The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it."

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 5:1-7

1 Let me sing for my beloved a love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 2 He digged it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. 3
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard. 4 What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? 5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. 6 I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry!

Meditation:What is the message of the parable of the vineyard? Jesus' story about an absentee landlord and his not-so-good tenants would have made sense to his audience. The hills of Galilee were lined with numerous vineyards, and it was quite common for the owners to let out their estates to tenants. Many did it for the sole purpose of collecting rent.

The Lord's vinyeard in the house of his people
Why did Jesus' story about wicked tenants cause offense to the scribes and Pharisees? It contained both a prophetic message and a warning. Isaiah had spoken of the house of Israel as "the vineyard of the Lord" (Isaiah 5:7). Jesus' listeners would have likely understood this parable as referring to God's dealing with a stubborn and rebellious people.

This parable speaks to us today as well. It richly conveys some important truths about God and the way he deals with his people. First, it tells us of God's generosity and trust. The vineyard is well equipped with everything the tenants need. The owner went away and left the vineyard in the hands of the tenants. God, likewise trusts us enough to give us freedom to run life as we choose. This parable also tells us of God's patience and justice. Not once, but many times he forgives the tenants their debts. But while the tenants take advantage of the owner's patience, his judgment and justice prevail in the end.

Gift of the kingdom
Jesus foretold both his death on the cross and his ultimate triumph. He knew he would be rejected and put to death, but he also knew that would not be the end. After rejection would come glory - the glory of his resurrection from the grave and his ascension to the right hand of the Father in heaven.

The Lord blesses his people today with the gift of his kingdom - a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. And he promises that we will bear much fruit if we abide in him (see John 15:1-11). He entrusts his gifts and grace (unmerited favor and blessing) to each of us and he gives us work to do in his vineyard - the body of Christ in our midst today. He promises that our labor for him will not be in vain if we persevere with faith to the end (see 1 Corinthians 15:58).

We can expect trials and even persecution. But in the end we will see triumph. Do you follow and serve the Lord Jesus with joyful hope and confidence in the victory he has won for you and the gift of abundant new life in the Holy Spirit?

"Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given us - for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us. O most merciful redeemer, friend, and brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, for your own sake." (prayer of St. Richard of Chichester, 13th century)

Psalm 80:8-21

8 You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and plant it.
9 You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches;
11 it sent out its branches to the sea, and its shoots to the River.
12 Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
13 The boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it.
14 Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see;  have regard for this vine,
15 the stock which your right hand planted.
16 They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance!
17 But let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
18 Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name!
19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! let your face shine, that we may be saved!
A Daily Quote for Lent: Life through death, by Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.

"Unless the Word of God had first assumed our mortal flesh He could not have died for us. Only in that way was the immortal God able to die and to give life to mortal humans. Therefore, by this double sharing He brought about a wonderful exchange. We made death possible for Him, and He made life possible for us." (excerpt from Sermon 218C, 1)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use - please cite: copyright (c) 2017 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.


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