A couple of days after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the day after He cleansed the temple, Jesus returned to the temple complex and began teaching. The chief priests and elders questioned Jesus. “Who gave You this authority?” they asked. These religious leaders did not want to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. So Jesus told them parables to get them thinking and to teach them about Himself.
The parable of the wicked tenants illustrates the story of Israel’s history. As you teach kids, help them connect the story to what happened in Israel’s history. First, the landowner is God the Father. He chose to bless the world through Abraham’s family, the people of Israel. The vineyard is Israel.
The tenants are the leaders of Israel. Throughout history, God sent the Old Testament prophets to speak to God’s people. But they did not listen to the prophets. Like the tenants of the vineyard, Israel’s leaders persecuted the prophets. So God the Father sent His Son, Jesus. Jesus knew that the people were going to kill Him like the tenants killed the landowner’s son.
Jesus led the leaders to conclude themselves what would be fair: that the landowner would punish the tenants and find workers who respect Him. God too is just. God will judge those who reject Jesus. He planned to choose a people who respect and trust Him—those who have faith—and form a community of believers from every nation to live under His righteous leadership.
Those who encounter Jesus can either accept and trust Him or walk away and reject Him. No one who meets Jesus will walk away unchanged. Pray that God would change the hearts of the kids you teach so that they would come to trust in Jesus, the Son of the loving and just Master, who wants everyone to come to repentance. (2 Pet. 3:9)
In what ways do people show they accept or reject Jesus? How has Jesus changed you? Leave a comment below.
Here is more help for leaders preparing for the July 9, 2017 session (Unit 22, Session 6) of The Gospel Project for Kids.
Alyssa Jones has been a content editor for The Gospel Project for Kids since 2011. She lives with her husband, Nate, and their two kids in Nashville, TN. Alyssa volunteers with the kids’ ministry at Refuge Church, a church plant in Franklin, TN.