Stoned and Crucified Preachers
I tend to determine what preachers I listen to by how many respond to their YouTube posts and whether or not their books are on the New York Times bestseller list. These are also the preachers that can draw the big crowds at conferences and mass meetings. My basic premise is that the size of audience indicates God’s blessing upon their ministry. Jesus, however, disagrees with my analysis.
During His last week in Jerusalem, He told a powerful story that revealed the messengers from God who actually did tell the truth. His story involved a carefully planned and constructed vineyard in the wine country. Planting, building a perimeter fence, digging a winepress, and a stone tower to protect from predators—when the vineyard was complete, he rented out his enterprise to tenants and left for another country. When the vines matured and the grapes ripened, he sent his own servants to collect his fruit. One of the master’s hands they beat up. Another they killed, and the next representative from the master got stoned to death. Finally, the owner sent his own son, his heir, reasoning, “They will certainly respect my son.” When they saw him coming, they plotted out their final response, “This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him. Then the inheritance will be ours” They did seize him, threw him out of the vineyard, and then murdered him.
At the conclusion of His story Jesus looked at the Jerusalem priests and elders, “What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do to those tenants?” They knew the answer, “He will put those cruel, evil men to death, and rent out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their season.”
Jesus let His enemies reveal what the history of Israel, His own people, indicated about how they responded to God’s prophets, His servants in the story. His story also predicted what they would do with Him, the Son, by the end of the week. Then He quoted Psalm 118:22, 23, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Matthew 22:42)
I need to join the Rejected One. He must be my Cornerstone. I need to understand that it is often not the prophets with the crowds, but the prophets who get beat up and even murdered who speak truth. Jesus was the greatest preacher, the greatest storyteller who ever lived. His stories didn’t please the crowd. They got Him killed.
LORD, I’m an American. We worship big crowds, large media audiences, and captivating speakers who hypnotize us by their charisma. Help me to not look at the size of the audience but the depth of devotion to You and Your Word when it comes to those who I rely upon to teach me Your Word. Thank you for the examples of preachers in the developing world who continue to proclaim Your truth even when it means getting beat up or murdered. If Russian opponents to Putin’s tyranny are willing to give their lives for the cause of freedom, then as a minister of the Gospel, I need to keep telling the truth no matter what the cost.
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