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God’s Word for You

Luke 20:13-16a making myself ashamed of my sin

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, February 5, 2019

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love. Maybe they will respect him.’

Continuing Jesus’ parable, the owner of the vineyard does the unthinkable. Wondering what he will do with these murderous tenant farmers, the Master decides to send his son. “Whom I love,” he adds, recalling the Father’s words at Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3:22) and at the transfiguration (Luke 9:35; Matthew 17:5). It is a hallmark of God the Son that God the Father publicly declares his love for him, more intimate and more lasting than any human love (Song 1:7).

The Father sends his Son because, “Maybe they will respect him.” The Greek word for “respect” is the future passive of entrepo (ἐντρέπω), “they will make themselves ashamed.” This is a Greek idiom for giving someone else respect; the idea is that by abasing (humbling) oneself, you give honor to the other person. With theological precision, Jesus cuts to the true nature of a sinner giving God glory: it is by making myself ashamed of my sin. This honors God because it is only through God that our sins can ever be forgiven. This is what Jesus came to do.

14 But when the tenant farmers saw him, they discussed the matter with one another, saying, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’  15 “So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

Remember that Jesus is talking to the chief priests, the ones who were going to do this very thing to him in about two days (this was Tuesday of Holy Week). He was looking them in the eyes, putting their very thoughts into the words that described them precisely: “Let’s kill him,” “So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.” Perhaps they had visions of stoning him for blasphemy or some such charge, but it is possible that already they were thinking of crucifixion under the Roman secular government.

What is the spiritual meaning of “the inheritance will be ours”? It means exactly what it says. The chief priests wanted the position and honor of Jesus for themselves. Who would ever dispute the Sanhedrin ever again after Jesus was out of the way? With the leader dead, the movement would die (they imagined), and soon no one in the world would remember the name of Jesus(!).

But Jesus doesn’t end the parable there. He continues with the judgment of God the Father. The price they would pay for killing him would be their own destruction. We should remember that no sin is beyond the forgiveness of sins except the sin of rejecting Christ altogether, which is unbelief. Jesus calls this the sin or blasphemy “against the Holy Spirit” (Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10). Unbelief will not be forgiven, and in fact, only unbelief damns (Mark 16:16). So even the sin of being part of the group that crucified Jesus was not an unpardonable sin. Did not the centurion under the cross confess, “Surely this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39)?

When you and I read passages like this where someone is condemned for their unbelief, the first thing we should do is praise God for having brought us to faith. He did it through his grace, the love he has that we don’t deserve. Forgiveness and eternal life are not things we earn, but things we have by grace. As Paul says: “If by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:6). But grace is indeed grace, and the love of God is ours through Christ. Praise him for your rescue, and walk according to his will.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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