As we read through Luke each week there will be two devotions focusing on particular passages. Click here to read past devotions.
The Parables can feel like enigmas and sometimes they are difficult to interpret. But at other times the parable is clear. In his final week, Jesus is openly declaring himself the Messiah. And he is picking a fight with the religious leaders. The parable of the tenants is a direct assault – the audience understands the meaning and cries “God Forbid!” (v16). Jesus is declaring an end to the Age of the Jews, when the Temple and the Law were the ways to connect with God. This mission will now be given to the followers of Christ and begin the Age of the Church.
The ministry of Jesus is filled with this symbolism: 12 disciples/tribes, loaves/manna, 40 days/year in the wilderness. Culminating with Jesus as the perfect Passover lamb, saving all people.
And Jesus’ description of the end times is broken into these two ages. We have a habit of reading the whole passage as the eschaton (final end times Christ’s return). When most of chapter 21 is devoted to the persecution of the early church and end of the temple (only v25-28 concerns the final coming). The physical destruction of Jerusalem and Temple in 70AD brings a physical end of the Jewish mission – spiritually ended with the resurrection and the Spirit’s arrival on Pentecost. **Tidbits
This knowledge becomes crucial. With the turning of the Ages, the mission of God’s people has changed. The Jews prepared the way for Jesus (providing a people, a place, etc – a macro John the Baptist, who was the culmination of that Age, see Mt 11:11). We now follow the way of Christ.
Connections to Today: I am putting together a second three basket clothes hamper. Our laundry machines run constantly and clean laundry piles up in our bedroom. There are times when we don’t need a mattress. We can just fall into the clean laundry… which doesn’t sound too bad until you realize you would have to wash it again. If only we didn’t have to fold, our lives would be so much more productive. I told Meg wrinkles are in – if only Grunge had stuck… So I am putting together laundry hampers hoping to bring some organization to our lives.
In this chaos, it is so easy to lose sight of our mission. The habits of the Jews make a lot of sense. They built a stable place that overcame so much adversity – they stayed pure and kept out those who were different. This safety sounds so appealing… and often churches follow this model. But the call of Christ isn’t to safety or uniformity. It is a call beyond the borders of normalcy into the chaos, to bring the chaos into the family. To bring everyone into the family.
Rather than organized and tidy the church should look more like our bedroom. A piled mess of insanity… but all cleansed by the cross and resurrection.
Ask God to give you a heart to accept those who are not like you.
- ** “Jesus makes no mention of the temple’s restoration because it will have become irrelevant. Forgiveness of sins will come in Jesus’ name (24:47), and the focus of redemption is the coming of the Son of Man in power and glory (v27), not the rebuilding of a desolate city” (Garland 838). The concept that the Temple must be rebuilt comes from an end-times theory called Dispensationalism. While widely popular through books like the Left Behind series, I believe it incorrectly reads passages like this one and assumes Daniel was not already fulfilled with the rebuilding of the temple and coming of Christ.
- Notice, when asked about taxes to Ceasar, Jesus did not have a coin for the illustration. Partly it speaks to his poverty. But it also speaks to the hypocrisy of the questioners. One side of a denarius read “Emperor Tiberias Son of the Divine Augustus” and on the other “Chief Priest”. Garland writes, “Coins were used for propaganda in the ancient world… By possessing such a coin the would-be informers incriminate themselves as those who are impious by bringing such an unsanctioned, portable graven image into God’s temple” (801).
- I am always troubled by the idea of marriage and the resurrection (20:27-40). While I suppose some can only envision heaven apart from their spouse. I can not envision heaven without holding Megan’s hand.