Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, long ago. (Luke 19) Shortly afterward, Luke, the Evangelist, records an event where Jesus was preaching and teaching the gospel in the temple courts. The Elders, chief priests and teachers of the Law questioned by what authority He was doing such things. As a way to affirm His authority and, at the same time, as a way to reprimand the unrepentant, “holier-than-thou” teachers of the Law, Jesus told them a parable – an earthly story with a heavenly meaning – about “a man who planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time.” (Luke 20: 9)
When the time for the harvest came, Jesus told them that the landowner sent a first, and then a second, and finally a third servant to collect his rent from the tenants, but the wicked renters beat, mistreated and abused these servants, turning them away empty-handed! “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.” (Luke 20:13-15) Jesus told the religious leaders in the temple courts that the wrath of the Owner would then come down, full-force, on the evil renters, and the master would, surely, come to destroy the tenants and give the vineyard over to others, more faithful and more trustworthy!
Jesus told this story as a judgement against the ungodly teachers and leaders at that time who were not faithfully serving God – returning to Him what they properly should; their lives, their worship, praise and service. At the same time, in a wider sense, Jesus was speaking judgement against all of Israel because, throughout time, God had sent servants (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and many others) to His chosen people seeking the fruits of repentance and faith. But these servants of God had been ignored, abused, shamefully treated and “turned away empty-handed.” So, what was God to do but send His beloved only Son, who they would also mistreat, abuse and finally murder! Jesus was predicting His own innocent suffering and death for the redemption of these sinful leaders, the people of Israel, the whole world and for you and me!
He was speaking about Himself when “Jesus looked directly at them and asked, ‘Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “The Stone the builders rejected has become the Capstone?” Everyone who falls on that Stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom It falls will be crushed.” (Luke 20: 17-18) Jesus, who was rejected for our sake, has become the most important. He is our Savior, the Rock of our Salvation, and He holds all things together in His omnipotent hands!
Jesus was telling this parable for you and me! Our Heavenly Father is the Landowner – everything belongs to Him and He “lets it out to us” for a time – to use, to work and to manage for Him. Yet we, like unfaithful renters, often waste the time and resources He so generously gives to us. We are wicked and lazy servants, and the “fields under our control” have “grown over” because of our inattentiveness. Like the tenants in the story, we fail to faithfully serve God – returning to Him what we properly should: our rent –our lives, our worship, praise and service! May God have mercy on us for Jesus’ sake!
While we still have time in His vineyard, God calls us to serve Him (Planting, Hoeing, Growing and Harvesting) and return to Him the fruits of righteousness. As members of Holy Cross Lutheran Church and School, we thank God for all His wonderful spiritual and earthly blessings! We continue to hear God’s call to us to “Reach the Lost and Strengthen the Saved!” through generous works of service and loving Gospel witness to Wichita and all the World.
By God’s great mercy and grace, may we hear the Master (Landlord) call to us at the Harvest Time, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25: 21 and 25)
By God’s grace and forgiveness, may He cause us to be “Good Renters, not Bad!”
See you in church this next weekend!
Blessings in Christ,