man listening to disturbing news on phone October 28 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Mark 11:12–12:17; Matthew 21:12–22:22; Luke 19:45–20:26.

Don't Get Fired

Getting fired is something that few people want to experience. Why do people get dismissed? There could be a number of reasons—not showing up for work on time or not at all, failure to carry out assignments, inconsistency in carrying out policies, dishonesty or theft, abusing workers, not submitting to authority, subverting company policies and teaching their subordinates to do the same, or doing other things that harm the reputation of the firm.

In today's Bible reading, Jesus uses parables to demonstrate the need for rejecting and dismissing the religious leaders, and in particular the priests of Jesus’ day. They certainly had tenure; they have been spiritual leaders of Israel since the days of Moses. What we learn in today's Bible study may help us not to get fired and replaced.

The Israelites were agriculturists and spoke in those terms. A parable he shares at this time concerns the management of a vineyard. The vineyard refers to the nations of Israel and Judah (Isaiah 5:1-7). The priests were poor managers of these nations. For mismanagement of his vineyard God will soon remove them. Why? What did they do?

From time to time God sent regional supervisors (prophets) to straighten out the managers (priests) and instruct them in the right ways, but many times these supervisors were persecuted or killed. Then he allowed a hostile takeover of their firm (the land of Israel) for a while because they were bankrupt and had irresponsible investors (Jewish people were irresponsible, wicked, and idol worshippers. They lost their nation and Babylon took them into captivity). In his mercy and grace, God gave them another chance to rebuild and manage his firm (the rebuilt temple and walls in Jerusalem), but they were unfaithful and again did not listen to their supervisors (prophets). After other hostile takeovers (Greece and Rome), the management was allowed to operate a small insignificant business in their same location, but it was under foreign ownership (Rome). Finally, the true owner (God) of the firm (Israel), sent them his own Son, who was heir of the firm. The management (religious leaders) decided to kill the heir so they might continue to run the organization the way they wanted, profiting only themselves. The heir, Jesus, came to turn the tables on the managers (Jewish religious leaders), and restore a right management over the firm (Israel).

The religious leaders will soon incite the Jews to have the heir of the vineyard (Jesus Christ) killed, and for this rejection he will give the ownership to someone else (a reference to Jewish believers in the time of The Tribulation). In the meantime, God will allow other nations to enjoy the benefits of the fruit of the vineyard, i.e., salvation will be extended to non-Jewish people (Gentiles. See Matthew 21:43).

Most of us are not Jews, and we live in the period of saving grace, but how are we managing the responsibilities God has given us? Would we want him to take them away and give them to someone else? This is the same thing as getting fired.

After the parable of the vineyard, Jesus shares another story, the parable of the wedding banquet (Matthew 22:1-14). Here, the same truth is illustrated. The Jews are invited to the wedding banquet, a banquet held in heaven in honor of his Son Jesus. The banquet is for all who trust in him for salvation. Jesus comes to his own people (the Jews), does miracles for them, but many do not receive or accept him (John 1:11) So, Jesus invites others to come to the banquet table.

What is required that we might be invited to the banquet table of God? Money? Prestige? Fame? No. Humility and the willingness to receive his invitation of salvation are required. When we do that, he will give us wedding clothes to wear before his banquet table. Have we humbled ourselves and received his invitation of salvation, or are we still making excuses for turning down the invitation? We can't go to the wedding banquet table in heaven in any other way but by receiving the invitation from his Son. Let’s answer, “yes” to him. If we do not answer yes, he will turn to others and we will be punished severely in hell for an eternity. Let’s humble ourselves and receive his invitation (more...).

No one likes to be told they are being fired. Sometimes people act with vengeance against their employers or managers for such things. Do we resent Jesus telling us how things must be? The Jewish leaders (Sadducees) do not like Jesus any more than the religious leaders (Pharisees) do, so they get help from the Herodians to try to remove him from his powerful influence with the people. Desperation makes strange bedfellows. The Herodians are a political group loyal to Herod but hated by the Jews. The Jewish leaders, religious leaders and Herodians have a common interest, however—getting rid of Jesus. His popularity is a perceived threat to the Roman government. They wonder, “Will Jesus start a rebellion?”

Their plan is to trap him by pitting his loyalty for God against his loyalty for the king of their day. In their attempts to trap Jesus, we can learn something from his answer to them. He declares there are things we owe to the government, and there are things we owe to God. God institutes governments for our protection and to dispense justice. We owe them honor and obedience whenever possible. We also owe the same to God. The Jewish leaders and Herodians fail in their attempt and made themselves look bad.

Lessons to Live By

  • Let's give proper respect to God, and manage our responsibilities well so he will not give them to someone else.
  • If any of us have been fired, we need to accept the rebuke, be remorseful about our actions, confess our wrongs, and be willing to submit to the right ways of doing things. Then we will find favor with God and people.
  • Have you accepted Christ’s invitation of salvation? This is the only way to the wedding banquet in heaven. (more...)
  • We owe honor and obedience to God and to our government. Whenever possible we should obey both.

Focus Verse

1Peter 2:16-17 (NIV) “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

Watch a short video of this lesson about the vineyard here

Watch a short video of this lesson about the wedding banquet here

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A Look Ahead: Jesus speaks out against false religious leaders. How can we Avoid Hypocrisy? Join us for our Next Lesson.

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