He Came unto His Own but His Own did not Receive Him
A few days before Jesus died on the cross He told the people more stories and parables. And this time Jesus told stories that were not mainly about God’s love and blessing towards his people but stories that were about God’s anger and judgment and about God taking away his blessings from his people. These are difficult stories to read and I didn’t want to include them in my blog, but of course I have to. There are some preachers today who only tell the nice happy stories in the Bible and leave these dark mysterious stories alone.
But we must read all of God’s Word! The words of love and grace and the words of warning and judgment. The words we understand and the words we don’t. Take in the whole counsel of God. And the same Bible that tells us that our God is a God of love and mercy also tells us that our God is a God of justice and judgment.
God loves everyone and wants to forgive every person on earth. God wants all of his wandering children to come home to Him. But God doesn’t make everyone come to Him or force everyone to love Him! Never! God’s children can refuse to accept His gift of forgiveness and love. We can reject God and refuse to speak to Him. And when we cut Him off long enough our actions will have consequences!
In speaking about Jesus Christ the Scriptures say: “He came unto his own, and his own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the children of God, to those who believe in his name.” (John 1:11-12) Jesus came first to his own people, the Jewish people. Scripture says: “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
Once during Jesus’ ministry a non-Jewish woman comes to Jesus and begs him to heal her sick child. But when she first asks, Jesus ignores her request! Finally He explains to her why He had ignored her. He tells her that the food should be given to the children and not to the dogs – meaning that Jesus’ gift of salvation and his healing miracles (the food) were meant first for the “children” (the Jewish people) who believed in God and not for the “dogs” (the non-Jewish people who were idol worshippers).
But then the Gentile (non-Jewish) woman keeps begging Jesus and finally she tells Jesus that even the dogs eat the scraps that are dropped under the table by the children while they are eating. At this Jesus is so moved by this humble woman that He heals her daughter and commends her for her faith. This story illustrates how Jesus’ gifts were meant to be given to the Jewish people first before any non-Jew at that time. The time for the Gentiles to be included in salvation and blessings had not come then, and that is why Jesus put the non-Jewish woman off at first. These things are God’s mysteries that we can only wonder about.
When Jesus’ gift of salvation was not received by the Jewish religious leaders of his generation and also with many of the Jewish people, it was finally time for this precious gift of salvation that Jesus brought to be shared with non-Jews as well. And Jesus’ parables that He tells to the religious leaders gets this point across.
Jesus’ Parable of the Wedding Feast begins with the king inviting his very closest friends and relatives (the Jewish people) to this special wedding feast for his son. Many fine dinner preparations are made but the relatives and friends of the king make fun of the king’s invitation and don’t bother to answer him as to whether they will be attending. Several of the king’s relatives harm the king’s servants who come with the invitations and others even kill some of the servants delivering the invitations.
The king is angry and hurt that his own loved ones and family have treated him badly and he sends out his armies to destroy some of them. Then he tells his servants to go out into the highways and invite as many people as they can find both bad and good so that the wedding halls will be filled with guests feasting and celebrating his son’s wedding. The story ends with the king arriving and looking around at all of the guests enjoying his lavish wedding party. The king is pleased; however one man is not wearing a wedding garment. (The king had given each guest a special garment to wear to the wedding.) So Jesus’ story ends with this man who is not wearing the correct attire being thrown out of the wedding party. (Matthew 22:1-14)
Of course the king’s beloved relatives who were given their invitations first and refused were the children of
God’s people. In antiquity the nation of
had learned to worship God alone while all of the other nations were heathens sacrificing
to idols. So the king in the story (God)
invites his people ( Israel )
to the wedding for his son – (offers them salvation through his Son, Jesus and
eternal life in his kingdom) .But many of the king’s relatives and close
friends ignore his invitation and the king is angry and deeply hurt. Israel
A lavish dinner (spiritual blessings) has been prepared and a gala party is to be given but there are no guests to come and enjoy. The upset king sends his servants into the highways (Matt.21:8-9) to invite everyone- the rich and the poor, the good and the bad -to receive his gift of salvation. (Evangelization of the Gentiles or non-Jews) But when a wedding guest tries to slip into the wedding but does not bother to wear the proper clothing, he is thrown out. (Jesus takes away our sins and clothes us with his righteousness. We cannot enter heaven on our own strength – wearing our own dirty clothes. We must be clothed in the righteousness of our Savior. Our own righteousness (our dirty clothes) is not appropriate for the kingdom wedding and not good enough!
The second parable Jesus tells is similar to this first one and has a similar meaning I believe. - The Parable of the Wicked Vinedresser. (Matthew 21:33-41) The story goes that the owner of a vineyard goes on a long trip and leaves his vineyard in the care of renters who are supposed to care for the vineyard and live off of it. Each year the owner will send his servants to the vineyard to see how it is doing and to collect the owner’s share of the yearly crop. (or the rent) But each year when the owners’ servants travel back to the vineyard to collect his share of the fruits from the yearly crop they are beaten up by the renters and the owner of the vineyard never receives his share of the grapes that were grown on his land.
Finally the owner sends his son to collect the rent. “Surely, my renters will respect my son and give him my part of the fruit from the crop,” he thinks. But instead, when the renters see the son coming down the road they decide to kill him! They reason that since the son will inherit the vineyard from the owner that if they kill him they can take over the vineyard. So the scheming renters ambush the son and kill him! When word gets back to the owner he is terribly grieved and angry and sends his soldiers to throw the murdering renters out of his property. And then the owner rents his vineyard out to new people. Jesus was saying that the new tenants (everyone who accepts Christ) would enjoy the king’s lush vineyard now ands the original tenants (the Jewish nation) would lose their favored spot in the vineyard because they rejected the son.
Jesus tells another story about the “Cornerstone”.(Matthew 21:42-44) He starts out by reading this Scripture: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” (Psalm 118:22) And concerning this “stone” Jesus says: “Whoever falls on this stone will be broken: but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” (Matthew 21:44) Jesus is the Cornerstone in the story. (Ephesians 2:20, 1 Corinthians 3:11 and Acts. 4:11) He was talking about Himself. Jesus, the Cornerstone holds up everything and his church is built upon Him. We believers are called “living stones”. Jesus is telling the religious leaders that they have rejected the very stone that is the chief cornerstone. And then Jesus warns that rejecting this stone that holds everything in place (rejecting Jesus) has consequences. Smaller stones can be broken or ground to powder if the builder disregards the Cornerstone by not putting these stones in their right place.
These stories of Jesus teach that after He was rejected by his own people, the Gentiles – and many Jews too, were to have their time where they were to become the Church through Jesus Christ. (Romans 11 and 12) The Jewish nation had their special time and now it seems to be the Gentile’s turn.
But Scripture also teaches that the whole nation of
once again be brought to Jesus and will acknowledge him as their Messiah and
Savior at the close of the time of the Gentile prominence. (Romans 11:25) We cannot understand these mysteries of God,
but God would not be God if we could understand everything He does. But we can trust that God who knows the
beginning from the end and has created everything and is just and all knowing
and merciful and loving knows what He is doing.
And His plans for all of his children are past finding out. Israel