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Broken or Crushed?

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There's something irresistable about a good story. Even as the Pharisees were seething in anger over being bested at their own game they couldn't resist another story from the Master Storyteller. And what a climax at the end; a terrible choice between being broken or crushed. But when that choice comes from the lips of one who was willingly crushed for our iniquities, a beauty beyond the brokeness appears and a terrifying choice can become a happy ending.

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There’s something about a good story
Sometimes you find yourself caught up in one even when you’re really not in the mood.
The legend of Arabian nights tells of a beautiful princess imprisoned and in danger of losing her life.
She pleads for the opportunity to tell the sultan a story
Being granted her one opportunity at life she tells such a gripping story that the sultan desires another, then another
Saved by a story
A rather ironic thought considering the story we’re about to hear from Jesus

A powerful story

It was a tense moment
Explain trap set for Jesus
Jesus response and story of the sons
Confrontation of
Robes whirled and dust rose as those religious leaders turned on their heals.
You could see the steam rising from their collars, faces red
If looks could kill Jesus would have died a thousand deaths
Common sense demanded that Jesus move on to safer topics
Find some middle ground, build some bridges.
But to their backs he said, “listen to another parable.”
And they stopped in their tracks
Could he be that audacious?
Would he really add insult to injury in their own house?
Why didn’t they just walk away and put an end to this nightmare?
But who can resist a good story
And with one more line Jesus has them hooked in spite of themselves
“Once there was a landowner who planted a vineyard”
A couple of the Levites wondered just what game he was playing at.
Technically they weren’t supposed to own land.
But you know how it is in these times.
Responsible stewardship and insurance for the future demanded prudent investing
Several of the Pharisees probably wondered if this story was about them.
They could almost see their own vineyards outside the city from where they stood.
Once there was a landowner who planted a vineyard.
And it was a beautiful vineyard
There was a stone wall
And in one corner he even thought to build a watchtower to protect his investment
And then there was the winepress built right on site.
No difficult transport
You could pick the grapes, press and bottle all in one convenient location.
Being a busy man with other obligations he leased out the vineyard for a share of its production.
The tenants cared for the property well.
The harvest proved abundant and wine pressing was in full swing when someone from the watchtower saw the landowner’s representatives coming down the road.
They never made it to the gate.
Stones came flying at them over the wall.
One servant was knocked unconscious, another was killed outright by the rocks.
A third managed to escape the barrage only to meet with a brutal beating
While the beaten servant looked on they finished their grisly deed with a final blow to the unconscious man lying in the road.
Then they dispatched that one remaining servant with a message of their own back to the landlord.
But the landlord had invested far too much to let such thuggery steal his rightful portion of the harvest.
Other messengers came and more violence followed.
Finally the owner dispatched his own son thinking, “Surely they will respect my son.”
By now the whole crowd is waiting with baited breath.
All the anger that had been focused on Jesus moments ago got temporarily redirected to horrible injustice those tenants were perpetrating on a generous landlord.
You could almost hear someone wanting to shout out to the son, “No, don’t go.”
But Jesus isn’t finished yet.
The son appears coming down the road.
The watch in the tower reports this latest development and a hurried conference is convened.
The opportunity of the moment can’t be missed.
“This is the heir to this land.”
If we kill him, there’s nothing standing in the way of us taking this for our own.
And they let the son of the owner come all the way inside the gates.
Maybe even greet him as a friend
And then the murder blow falls
His body is tossed into the street
They can’t help themselves now, these religious leaders.
Their blood boils as they imagine such a tragedy in their own lives.
And Jesus baits the hook with a question.
“When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
The answer is so obvious it is impossible to hold back.
Without thinking they respond exactly on cue.
“He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they said.
I wonder if any of them suspected the trap
I wonder if hands were going to their mouths even as they pronounced the sentence.
But the words had already started and it was impossible to stop
“He will rent the vineyard to other tenants who will give him his share of the crop.”
The hook was set, now Jesus reels them in
He goes back to a quote they had preached a thousand times.
Back to the Psalms
Back to a reference that had so many times brought assurance of God’s blessing to their endeavors.
Psalm 118:22–23 NIV84
The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
It’s a short passage that never failed to remind them of a little story about the first temple.
It’s a short passage that never failed to remind them of a little story about the first temple.
It’s a short passage that never failed to remind them of a little story about the first temple.
Built right on the sight they were standing on
Solomon’s temple was the standard, the evidence of past glory when Israel was free and God was almost tangible in his presence.
Each block for that massive edifice was quarried off site, in some cases miles away
Cut to precise dimensions and marked it was then transported to the site and assembled without any tool work on the temple grounds.
The stones began to come and the foundations for the courtyard when in.
Early on, the builders came to one stone that seemed not to fit any of the spaces where rocks were needed.
It was a massive stone with no place to go.
They moved it to the side, but it remained a constant source of frustration.
People tripped over it, it got in their way.
Finally they got enough men together to get that monstrosity out of the way and it was dumped with the trash
The time came for the laying of the cornerstone for the temple itself.
Messages were sent to the stone cutters demanding the cornerstone be sent.
Messages returned reminding the workers that said stone was already on site.
Only then did someone remember the stone with no place that had been in the way.
After some searching they finally located it off to the side, hidden in the weeds
That story never failed to leave people praising God for how he works in spite of our failings
It left them with a nice warm feeling that somehow God was watching out for his special people.
But not this time
Now it left them with the sinking feeling they’d been had.
That somehow Jesus had again turned their own hearts against them.
Jesus confirmed their worst fears.
Verse 43

Broken or Crushed

Right here we get a unique insight into the human psyche
After two stories in a row slamming home the point that they were headed down the wrong path these religious leaders respond in a frighteningly predictable way.
Verse 46
It is so easy for us to look back knowing the whole story and shake our heads in amazement
How could they not see what was happening
How could they not stop, particularly in light of the final punch line Jesus delivers
A grim warning of their coming fate.
Verse 44
Why would the Pharisees keep plotting
Was it pride?
No backwater country teacher would best them on their own home turf
Was it control?
The control over the masses they could feel slipping away ever since his march into the city a few days before
Was it the irrationality of hate?
The old saying goes that some will “cut off their own nose to spite their face”
Were they prepared to die wrong rather than admit the truth
Was it fear?
Fear of the alternatives provided
Because in all honesty neither seems particularly pleasant does it
Broken or crushed to powder
How very uncomfortable of Jesus to not provide a third alternative
Why not at least offer the common sense approach of seeing the light and heading in the right direction.
Why not broken, crushed or convinced.
Yet Jesus offers no easier alternative does he?
Perhaps because he had such a profound understand of the problem he came to solve.
This thing called sin
This infection that has been systematically destroying the very fabric of the planet.
What had cut God off from his own creation
What necessitated a rescue plan of universal proportions.
A problem so massive our instinct is to minimize its significance, just to face the problem with sanity.
The Pharisees tried that solution.
They believed that strict adherence to the law would shield them from sin and solve the problem
By good effort I can pacify God
Yet Micah had long ago confronted the weakness of such a plan with an uncomfortable rhetorical question
Micah 6:7 NIV84
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
It is indeed fortunate that Christians today live in such an enlightened state.
Micah 6:7
It is indeed fortunate that Christians today live in such an enlightened state.
Having been set free from the delusion of keeping the law we live free in the grace of salvation.
So free indeed that those looking on can hardly tell where my old life ended and a new life began.
It is so easy to underestimate the tenacious nature of our illness
I can’t solve my problem with sin by pretending that sin isn’t really a problem
describes the natural progression, but the result is the same – death
James 1:15 NIV84
Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Two sides of the same coin that are both confronted with the radical message of Jesus.
Two sides of the same coin that are both confronted with the radical message of Jesus.
Broken or Crushed
There are only two possible eternal options available.
How unpleasant
How un PC
Certainly not a popular message
So unpopular in fact that, at first, not even his closest friends would accept it.
Taking his own medicine
Yet within days he would practice what he preached, this teacher from Gallilee
Unwilling to simply prescribe disaster for others Jesus submitted to the breaking himself.
The only one who carried no sin within was willing to go beyond the breaking to be crushed
And he did it because he alone understood the depth of the problem we faced.
He alone understood that only brokenness could root out what is intent on destroying my life
Only his brokenness could heal my sin
Isaiah 53:5 NIV84
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isa 53:5a – Wounded for our transgressions
Isa 53:5a – Wounded for our transgressions
How could he pay such a price for my problems?
How could he accept such abuse from the very people he came to rescue?
Wasn’t he afraid of the breaking?
I am
You are
We hold out, hoping for some more palatable medicine for our woundedness
We hold back fearing that once broken there will be no repair
And to our fear the Bible brings a message of hope
Isa 53:5b
His wounds are the healing agent.
Because he was crushed I can find healing
But my shell of self-sufficiency, of fear, anger, of isolation must be broken if the healing is to reach my soul.
So he looked beyond the crushing to the other side.
This is the hope of the season we’re about to enter
That beyond the cross was a resurrection.
That the kind of freedom he would die to secure was the only kind of freedom that would truly release us from the prisons of our own nature.
He promised that it would happen
John 8:36 NIV84
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Perhaps we can risk a paraphrase in the terms of Jesus story there on the temple steps
Perhaps we can risk a paraphrase in the terms of Jesus story there on the temple steps
If the son puts you back together you’ll be truly right
Friends, if Jesus was who he claimed to be then we are presented with a difficult choice
We come face to face with a God who invites me to be broken or crushed.
Oh how I wish that I could choose option c
But if I must choose than I take hope in the words of a man who tried every way possible to find a third route.
The apostle Peter went as far as one can go down the road of self-help and personal salvation.
He ran from brokenness until he found himself on the very edge of the precipice.
The same cliff that Judas chose to jump over rather than risk brokenness in the hands of Jesus
But Peter drew back
He made his choice
And in his first letter to Christians he said
1 Peter 2:7 NIV84
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,”
To those who believe the rock is precious
To those who believe the rock is precious


I’m sure there’s a story behind the lyrics I’m about to share with you.
I don’t know what may have prompted the writer to put this kind of beautiful agony into words
But I have my own story for them
And if you will trust the Jesus can fix what is broken in your soul they can be your story too.
Kutless Promise Of A Lifetime Lyrics
I have fallen to my knees As I sing a lullaby of pain I'm feeling broken in my melody As I sing to help the tears go away Then I remember the pledge you made to me [CHORUS:] I know you're always there To hear my every prayer inside I'm clinging to
The promise of a lifetime I hear the words you say To never walk away from me and leave behind The promise of a lifetime Will you help me fall apart Pick me up, take me in your arms Find my way back, from the storm And you show me how to grow Through the change I still remember the pledge you made to me CHORUS:] I know you're always there To hear my every prayer inside I'm clinging to
the promise of a lifetime I hear the words you say To never walk away from me and leave behind The promise of a lifetime [BRIDGE:] I am holding on to the hope, I have inside With you I will stay, through every day Putting my understanding aside I am comforted To know your always there To hear my every prayer inside I'm clinging to
the promise of a lifetime. I hear the words you say To never walk away from me and leave behind The promise of a lifetime I know you're always there To hear my every prayer inside I'm clinging to
the promise of a lifetime Looking back at me I know that you can see My heart is open to
the promise of a lifetime
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