The parable of the wicked vinedressers in Luke 20:9-16 is like something out of an action film: the bad guys just won’t give up. Reading it, we may not fully understand the depth of what Jesus is saying here, so today, I want to dig a little deeper into how this parable still relates to us today.
A reader once emailed me and asked if I believed the stories of the people who went to heaven. But her next question is what I focus on today: “If they truly were in the presence of God and saw heaven, how could they come back to earth and remain unchanged? How could they go back to their old lives of sin and vanity after such an encounter?”
But technically, we all encounter Jesus at some point in our lives – usually the moment we say that we accept Jesus as our savior. At that point, our lives are transformed – our sins are cast away and we receive white, pure, holy new clothes. Yet, all of us at one point or another get those clothes dirty – we go back to our wayward ways.
Now, we may defensively say that this is different. That if we had truly seen Jesus in person – if we had a real heaven experience or lived while Jesus walked the earth, then things would be different. But that is not a true justification. Peter walked with Jesus for years and in His moment of need, he betrayed Jesus.
A few days ago we read about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). In that story, a man asked Abraham to send a dead man to his brothers so they may be saved. Surely, he said, if they see a dead man come to life, then they would believe. But Abraham replied: “if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
Aren’t we like that man some days? We say that if only we saw “real” miracles – people healed, arms growing back, dead people coming back to life – then we would believe and never turn back to our old ways. If only we could see Jesus in the flesh or actually really feel Him.
But like the parable with the vinedressers, God has already done those things for us and most days, it’s still not enough to hold our attention and to sustain an unwavering faith in Him. We reject everything He gives us, even when He sent His own son, in order to somehow selfishly fit into this world and satisfy ourselves.