CLUTCHING WHAT IS NOT REALLY MINE
“There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, `They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: `The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.” Matthew 21:33-46
Those who heard Jesus tell this parable understood it well. The hills of Galilee were full of vineyards and it was customary for the owners to let out their estates to tenants. Though the Pharisees understood the illustration, they were offended at Jesus’ implication. They understood it to be prophetic and a direct warning because they knew that God considered the Jewish nation to be the ‘vineyard of the Lord.’ Isaiah 5:7
The message to them from Jesus was clear. You are not in line with God’s purposes. Though you are proud of your positions and believe you are functioning well as religious leaders, you are really failures. You are abusing good servants and on top of that, you are rejecting me, the very son of the Vineyard owner. My rights threaten your territorial reign.
Jesus has been so generous to entrust His kingdom to us to rule, in his absence. He has conferred upon us the authority to do so. When He left, He made sure He modeled how to care for it. He set everything in motion for His business to function perfectly. Instructions were complete and all tenants are without excuse. We understand that His leadership style is to serve and His paradigm is always relationship instead of religion, heart over intellect. But are we Pharisaical as tenants?
I am a tenant of the vineyard. When Jesus, the owner, returns, will He be pleased with the way I handled the assignment? Or, am I sabotaging the harvest by confusing others about who Jesus is by the way I handle the power He’s given to me?
In Jesus’ absence, I’m given free will to run the vineyard any way I want. Like the tenants in the parable, they could abuse, even kill, servants. When the ‘son’ came, the one with ownership rights to the vineyard, they killed him. He threatened what they considered to be theirs.
This ministry is God’s vineyard. The harvest is there but I can nurture it or kill it according to how well I function under His paradigm. In all my speaking and writing, I am mandated to emphasize heart over intellect, grace instead of performance, and relationship over religion. The Son is coming back and will one day assess how well I cared for His sheep. Will the harvest resemble what it would have been if Jesus had stayed to oversee it? That’s humbling to consider.
Everything about me is to serve Your interests. Everything belongs to You and I step back, again, to accept my place. In Jesus’ name, Amen