And Jesus began to tell the people this parable:
… “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” (Luke 20:9-16)
What can one see in this passage?
There is a vineyard owner. He is the one who invests himself and his capital in securing land. He is also the one who offers forth the terms of contract. He has an obligation to pay that which he has promised for work performed; in this case the tenants are to receive their percentage of the product. He also has rights to collect and enjoy his share of the profit as specified in the terms of the lease agreement. A good portion of the fruit of the vine belongs to him.
There are the tenants. They are the hard-working managers or stewards of the vineyard. Diligently they work for the land owner. Diligently they work for themselves and their families. What they sow, they reap, and they have great hopes of bringing in a bountiful harvest, for they have carefully tended the soil and vines under their care. However, while a good portion of the profit belongs to them, all is not theirs. All the land, all the vines, and a percentage of the produce has the landowners name on them.
Then there is the sin problem. The vineyard managers covet, disobey, murder, and steal. In a sinful democratic action, their union votes to take away from the landowner that which rightfully belongs to him and redistribute the wealth. (Hmm, sound familiar?) So driven are they to take ownership of the vineyard that they abuse three servants and kill the landowners son. They are not satisfied being profitable and blessed vineyard managers. No, they want the land and produce of the father as well as the inheritance of the son, and they want it right now.
What happens to these wicked managers on the landowners farm? Ultimately they meet the man and they experience his just wrath. They are judged and destroyed.
How can this passage be applied?
God is the owner of the universe. It all belongs to him. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. This is the Heavenly Father’s world.
Jesus is the owner of the universe. The Father has predetermined to give all things to his Son. In the divine will and testament, Jesus Christ gets it all.
In the meantime, men are given the privilege and responsibility to tend God’s planet. They are to work hard for God, their families, their neighbors, and themselves. As a result of their labors, they are profited, delighted, and improved. They work for a honorable and generous landowner.
However, men are always tempted to worship themselves, take that which belongs to God, and transfer it into their hands. In the immediate situation, the Pharisees want control of God’s Land, God’s Temple, God’s People, and God’s money. In order to grab control of these things, they are more than willing to kill God’s servants. They are even willing to kill God’s miracle-working Son.
In similar manner, men today are covetous, insubordinate, murderous, thieves who worship themselves and are hungry to take ownership of that which belongs to God. People are not satisfied to operate according to the terms of his written will. Men are not satisfied with being profited under his sovereign care. No, men want control of their lives and their possessions, and they are more than willing to disobey and dishonor God in order to grab the inheritance right now.
However, they are fooling themselves. God watches. God is angry. God is coming, and all who rebel against him and his Son are foreordained for judgment and destruction. For them, all is lost.
Yet, the just and angry God, he is compassionate and gracious. Despite the murderous blasphemy of men, he offers reconciliation to all who repent. For anyone who submits to his resurrected Son, substitutionary righteousness and forgiveness awaits.
Then, in addition to mercy, grace is poured out. Stewardship opportunities continue to be offered to the formerly self-worshiping and rebellious workers. Despite their horrible work-record, parts of the Father’s universe are still placed under their care. It’s is theirs to manage on behalf of the owner. Yes, God again gives sinful men the opportunity to serve him, serve their family, serve their neighbors, and pleasure themselves. He is so merciful and gracious to those who blasphemed him.
Then, someday, former murderous managers get the farm. Believe it or not, because they are reconciled with the Son, they get treated like the Son. As co-heirs with Jesus, they get the privilege of being engrafted into the last will and testament of Jesus. Consequently, they get the inheritance.
Final thoughts …
Friends, come to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and be reconciled. Why would you lose it all and suffer int he place assigned for the devil and his angels? Why would you die and perish in your sin? Confess your rebellion. Trust in the finished work accomplished for sinners by Jesus Christ. Proclaim your allegiance to him as Lord, Savior, and Owner. Repent and rejoice in the mercy of God.
Steward well your life, time, energy, and possessions. Spend your day well worshiping God by improving his reputation, his vineyard, his family under your care, and his neighborhood. Be diligent workers and enjoy the fruits of your labor. This is part of God’s economy. He delights in having satisfied laborers.
Then, look forward to the future. Someday he is coming back. For some he is coming with the gavel of the judge and the sword of destruction. For those not reconciled with Jesus, there will be hell to pay. However, for you who are identified with Christ, he comes with his last will and testament. And in this document there will be some notarized amendments. Jesus Christ’s name will still be found therein, but your name will be found along with his. In paradise, all that belongs to the Father will be given to the Son. And all that belongs to the Son will be given to those who are co-heirs with Jesus. He will not forsake his children. He will not forsake his bride. He always keeps the terms of his covenant.