sexta-feira, 30 de dezembro de 2016


Therefore I tell you
that the kingdom of God
will be taken away from you
and given to a people
who will produce its fruit.

Matthew 21:43 (read 21:33-46) - NIV

Jesus told the parable of the tenants of a vineyard who wanted to seize by force the property where they worked. The owner had entrusted it to their care, but they opted to take it for themselves by killing the owner’s envoys and his son. Their action was self-destructive.

The tenants of the story represented the chief priests and the Pharisees. They judged themselves to be the guardians of truth and sought to destroy those who did not submit to their system. They tried to take the Kingdom by force.

The church gives a religious interpretation to the parable. The crucified Jesus is the murdered Son who became Head of the Church. By rejecting Jesus the authorities were acting against their source of salvation.

Religious interpretations are valuable but limited to one area of life. The rejection of Jesus by the Pharisees was more than a religious issue! It represented an attitude toward truth. Jesus represented truth. Religion can resist higher truth in exchange for a lower one. Each church has its body of doctrines and considers them to be true, absolute and complete. To be out of the system is to be lost. One of the worst sins is to be a heretic or a non-believer. They have no forgiveness. Salvation is reserved for those who have the right belief and right practice. In the eyes of the religious authorities, Jesus was the "great heretic". He did not fit within their system and had to be eliminated.

Not much has changed. The church also set up a system of doctrine and incorporated Jesus with religious values. Woe be to the pastor or Sunday school teacher who goes beyond the limits of the doctrinal church! He or she is pushed away so as to not "contaminate" the flock. The purpose of religion is to restrain its members within the established limits. The purpose of Sunday School is to deepen the students in the doctrine and practice of the church. The curriculum is repetitive and the follower is kept inside the school all his or her life. Sunday Schools are the only schools that never graduate their students.

Indoctrination is an affront to human dignity. The indoctrinator places himself or herself as superior to the students who are considered to be ignorant and in need of being instructed. In reality, we are all ignorant. Any sense of superiority is an illusion. The truly wise recognize that they know little. Fools think that they have superior knowledge and want to spread their ignorance to others under the label of "wisdom".

There is a big difference between going deeper into doctrine and seeking truth. Deepening narrows our search and restricts our vision by concentrating on just one area. We learn more and more about less and less. We paint ourselves into a corner. By contrast, search for truth opens and releases. It reveals new horizons, is expansive and breaks down barriers. Jesus represented the truth and growth beyond the standards that existed in his day. The Pharisees represented the limitations of a closed system. Jesus symbolized truth and life while the religious leaders promoted doctrine and death.

Jesus continues to be greater than doctrines and theological systems. We cannot force Jesus into a mold. We cannot take him by force and transform him into our image. We cannot judge ourselves to be the guardians of truth on Earth. God continues to be the "Lord of the vineyard." Our task is only to labor to produce fruits of love. What we live is more important than what we believe. We will be judged by what we live, not what doctrines we hold. “Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16) is a radical statement.


“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

“The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

“But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

“He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them.

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