When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. Matthew 21:45-46
Read: Matthew 21:33-46
Listen: Matthew 21
The confrontation isn’t going anywhere. The temperature rises on Solomon’s Colonnade, and so does the tension between Jesus and the religious leaders. The chief priests and elders, who control access to the temple system, can see the possibility of losing control of the very thing that gives them wealth and power. Using one parable after another, Jesus illustrates their abuse of the temple and how he fulfills everything the old temple system could not do.
Through the story of a landowner and a vineyard, Jesus essentially holds up a mirror to the attitudes and actions of the chief priests and elders. As they listen, we can picture the seething religious leaders, arms folded in defiance, thinking, “Nobody can tell us what to do!” The chief priests knew it was their “turf.” Short of Roman intervention, no one was going to tell them how to do things. Least of all this Galilean peasant.
It comes down to the question of authority. It was for the religious leaders, and it is for us. They weren’t willing to cede authority and, often, neither are we. We defiantly stand before God, arms crossed, and say, “No! This is my turf.”
IN YOUR CHAIR TIME TODAY
We need to understand that defending our turf is often a lack of trust in God. We think we can do it better, or we’re afraid of what God might ask us to do. With hands open, today pray a prayer similar to this, “Father, I’ve been defending some turf for way too long. I’m sorry. I know I need to be open to what you want me to do. Use your Spirit to work in my heart and mind as I loosen my grip on this turf. I need your help. Amen.”
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