Turn on and tune in to any televangelist/TV preacher, and you will (guaranteed) see a very large audience sitting before this boisterous fellow as he pontificates some message about money (usually). Most propagate a gospel of health and wealth; that is, God wants you healthy and wealthy and he never wants you have an unpleasant moment and the reason you aren’t rich right now is because 1) you aren’t giving enough or 2) your faith hasn’t reached that point yet and if you are not rich, you are cursed. Heretical to core!
In Jeremiah 18.12, we see the reaction of people to the message preached: “But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart'” (ESV). We see that the best preaching may be rejected. But we also see that the duty of the faithful preacher is to bear his testimony even if it be rejected. The rejection may be attributed to the pride of men or to the stubbornness of his will. However, the truth preached is never affected by the rejection of it. Of all the televangelists I have watched, never have I have seen an empty or half-filled auditorium. Instead, the preaching is met with a roar of applause from a filled to capacity audience.
In Luke 20.9-18, we see Jesus saying some very hard things not to an overflowing, capacity crowd at the synagogue, but to those who were still following. In fact, as we saw in Round 1, the things he is saying are causing showdowns with Him and the religious leaders. In these verses, Jesus tells a parable to the people concerning the rejection of the message and messanger by the people.
The parable is fairly straightfoward: a man plants and let’s out a vineyard, a pretty standard practice during this time. He goes away for a long time. After a time, the man wants some of his fruit and sends a servant who is beaten and sent away empty-handed. Another servant comes and is beaten and mistreated, also going away empty-handed. A third is sent and wounded and then thrown out. What’s a vineyard owner to do? Ah, he will send his son, his beloved son and those rascally tenants will respect him. Sadly, there is no respect for the son; they kill him in the vineyard.
Here is the grand scheme of redemption in human history in miniature. The servants sent are prophets sent by God, raised up to preach and prophecy. They are shamefully treated, beaten, some are killed (though not mentioned directly here) for the message they bring. All throughout history, God has sent men to preach righteousness (see 2 Peter 2.5) and men have been casting off the high calling of God. And not just any men or any people; even his people Israel rejected the mighty preaching of the prophets.
From eternity God has always determined that He would send His Son to the “vineyard” which is the nation of Israel (since the vineyard is a specially selected place for growing vines). And the plotting evil heart of man devised the wicked scheme of crucifying the Son of God. Little did they know they were enacting and fulfilling the grand plan to save man which sprung from the eternal mind of God. However, for their continued and persistent rejection of the purposes of God for their life, God was coming in wrath and was to give Israel’s special selection (biblically it is “election”) to others, namely the Gentiles.
What an astonishing report from Jesus. The people seemed to have understood and gotten the message for they cry out, “Surely not” or “May it never be!” This is the only occurance of this strong and emphatic statement anywhere in the New Testament save for Paul’s writings. This is outrageous! It is horrible! How can this be? But Jesus looks the people eye-to-eye to point them to Scripture. He quote Psalm 118.22 concerning the rejection of the stone which becomes the cornerstone. Here is Jesus in prophecy. He would become the stone of offense for some and the rock of salvation for others.
Verse 18 shows us the unique nature of rejecting Jesus. Those who reject Christ may think they have delivered a serious death blow to religion. They may believe they have surely stomped underfoot God and Christ and everything holy. Such could not be further from the truth. Indeed, a rejection of Christ and His claims is to fall on the rock and be broken to pieces, i.e. destroyed. Likewise, these rejectors end up beneath the stone, cruched to death. Literally the Greek says he will be ground to powder or dust. Some believe this points to the future judgment. Here is the awful end of those who reject Christ.
Too many have made the message of Christ and the message of God palatable. Everyone wants money (though we are to bee free from the love of money) so they will flock to the preacher who preaches health and wealth. People want to be entertained so they flock to a “worship” service that is filled with smoke, lights, and a full orchestra. People want their ears tickled so they pack the auditoriums of those men who speak cooing words that are “just right” for them. Here is my message for all those preaching those messages and for those listening to them: Repent, before it is too late. Do not be broken to pieces or crushed by the rejected stone. Repent