He had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking, 'They will respect my son.' But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
The theologians who first discerned the doctrine of the Trinity throughout the old and new testaments loved to discover hints, clues and suggestions of it. This particular parable of Jesus, from the Gospel of Saint Mark, is especially rich with evidence of the Three Persons in One God.
It's pretty obvious Jesus is speaking of himself when he describes the mission of the vineyard owner's son. First, he is "the beloved son" as Isaac was the beloved son of Abraham. Secondly, he is the heir, meaning he was the firstborn son. Again, like Isaac.
To our horror, "they seized him and killed him." Then they threw him out of the vineyard, as Jesus was arrested, tried, condemned, crucified and buried outside the city gates of Jerusalem.
Rereading the text we hear the father's musing, "They will respect my son." As the only begotten Son of God, Jesus is worthy of all the respect which is owed to God the Father. They are coequal in majesty, because the Father has handed everything over to the Son.
Because the Son is the image of the Father, to see him is to see the Father although the Son is not the Father.
Abraham's sole request of God was that he should have a son by his wife Sarah. Neither he nor Sarah was satisfied when Ishmael was born of the slave Haggai. And both were so delighted when they had their firstborn son despite their advanced ages, they named him Isaac, meaning laughter.
We hear God's satisfied laughter when he says of Jesus, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."
The landowner in this parable, it seems, cannot imagine that the tenants will not be as pleased with his son as he is. "Surely they will respect my son!" he says. It's incomprehensible that they would not.
The Holy Spirit opens our minds and hearts to hear Jesus speaking of himself as the only beloved Son of the Heavenly Father in this ominous, beautiful parable of the vineyard owner, his tenants and his son.