Matthew 21:10-46 (NKJV)
10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” 11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” 12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” 14 Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” 17 Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there. 18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away. 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?” 21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” 23 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” 24 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25 “The baptism of John — where was it from? From heaven or from men?” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 “But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.” And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. 28 ” But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29 “He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 “Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32 “For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him. 33 ” Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 34 “Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. 35 “And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 “Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. 37 “Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 “But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 39 “So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” 41 They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 “And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” 45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.
In light of Christ’s transfiguration, how might people have responded differently to the events in our lesson today? Simple knowledge isn’t enough—Three of the apostles did witness the Transfiguration, and even that was insufficient. Only the risen Christ, living and reigning in us through His Word and Spirit, can enable the proper responses.
Thus, instead of asking “Who is this?” or simply saying “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee,” we in Christ can confess, “This is the Christ, the very Son of God.”
Instead of watching Him cleanse the temple and then ask, “By what authority are You doing these things?” we in Christ fully realize His authority and ask instead, “What else might need cleansing, Lord, in this building that is Your temple, and in us, the temples of Your Holy Spirit? Please cleanse us now!”
When our Heavenly Father says to us “Son, go, work today in my vineyard,” instead of being either son in the parable, we in Christ are ones who say, “I will go” and then actually go.
When God, our landowner, sends His servants to collect His due, instead of treating them violently or even disrespectfully, we in Christ treat them with full respect and heed their call. And when He finally sends us His Son, instead of saying “Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance,” we in Christ faithfully acknowledge that He is indeed the only rightful heir to any spiritual inheritance, and then gladly, willfully render our due, from the fruits of the land.
Only in Christ, are we changed, and thus our responses can be changed, through the risen Christ, living and reigning in us through His Word and Spirit.
Let us pray: O God, in the glorious transfiguration of your only Son you confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of Moses and Elijah. In the voice that came from the bright cloud you wondrously foreshowed our adoption as your children. Mercifully make us heirs with the Christ of his glory, and bring us at last to share that same glory with him; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.