“Hear another parable…” Matthew 21:33
We know Jesus was patient with sinners. We see it in the gospel accounts in the Bible. He’s constantly eating with them, talking with them, spending time with them. The Pharisees hate it. They don’t understand how he can be a prophet, much less the Son of God, and associate himself with these people. From our viewpoint, 2000 years later, we are quick to jump all over the Pharisees. “Don’t they get it?” We smugly ask. But, do we get it?
It’s no surprise to many of us that Jesus was patient, loving, and compassionate to the tax-collectors and prostitutes. That seems like Jesus to us. The Savior came to save sinners. It makes sense based on the way Jesus is presented. And, it’s 100% true. But Matthew’s two parables in the 21st chapter, the two sons and the tenants, show us how patient Jesus is with the Pharisees – the “righteous” people of his day.
The parable of the tenants starts this way, “hear another parable.” This alone is more grace to the undeserving than we would ever think to give. Jesus is saying this to the people that are going to kill him. He’s saying it to those who have opposed him his entire ministry. They despise him. They don’t want anything to do with him. They constantly try to trap him in conversation so they can accuse him. They plot against him. They provoke him at every turn. They test him and try him and pester him. And he gives them grace by telling them another parable.
This shows the lengths that Jesus goes to bring people to repentance. He is harsh with the Pharisees, yes, but he is patiently harsh. He waits until they bring his harshness upon themselves with their resistance to his call. Their hearts are hardened by their own prideful sin so that they cannot accept what he is saying to them. Yet, he tells them another parable.
So when we’re interacting with those Pharisees in our day – the legalists that we all know and hate – what is our interaction with them like? Do we condemn them in our hearts before we even begin talking? Do we think they will change or are we merely waiting their judgment? If so, we’re unlike Jesus. He told them another parable. Read the parable of the tenants and see what sin it brings up in your heart.
The time for parable telling, repentance calling, gospel sharing will one day end but it isn’t we who decide when that end comes, the Lord does. Until then, let us press on toward those with a legalistic bent and urge them to repent of their righteousness, just as we seek to repent of ours. Because you see, we really are one in the same: one resents the sinners for their disobedience to the law; the other resents the righteous for their disobedience to mercy. Both are sinners. Jesus saves both.