Sermons The parable of the tenants - some thoughts

The parable of the tenants - some thoughts


The landowner = God the Father.


The tenants = the Chief Priests and Pharisees, the Jewish people.


The Vineyard = Israel, the land and the people.


The Slaves = the Prophets.


The Son = Jesus.


The stone that the builders rejected = Jesus.  



Jesus is telling the parable to the crowds of people who have gathered and once again, as we have heard in previous weeks, he is also speaking to the Chief Priests and Pharisees.  


The crowds love his story-telling and the analogies that he paints with land owners and slaves, the down trodden being lifted high, the workers being equal to one another, the Kingdom of God being an upside-down kinda place.


The Chief Priest and Pharisees do not because their place, which they feel so secure about inhabiting and love to use to laud over others less fortunate than themselves is in danger of becoming the worst place to inhabit rather than the best.  And here they realise that the story being told is specifically against them.  Jesus equates their behaviour to the unruly tenants who maim and kill, who are greedy and want to keep the fruit of the vineyard for themselves rather than share it with others.


In verse 43 Jesus tells them straightforwardly - “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.”  God’s plan is to take what he has given to this chosen people and give it to the Gentiles too - people who may be more generous with the gift that has been given to them and therefore will be able to reap the harvest and the fruit in their living and thus create the kingdom of God here on earth as it is in heaven.


God has lost patience with the tenants.  He has sent them prophets and they did not listen but instead killed them.  Finally he sends his son - the corner stone and they even reject him.  They take him and nail him to a cross and let him die right there in the middle of the vineyard.  Therefore, the fruit - Jesus the first fruit of those who sleep, the first fruit of the harvest will be given to all people and in the giving of the gift there will be grace and mercy, endless love and a willingness from those people to give the gift on to others - to bear fruit.  Fruit that will last.  The Gentiles will do what Israel has failed to do.  Together they will spread the fruit of the Gospel across the world and will not keep it to themselves.


It is a story that echoes down the ages to us today for it holds a mirror up to us as a church.  Are we the tenants killing any joy in life, any love in the world?  Are we so beset with the politics of the church that we forget the good news and fail to bear the fruit of the harvest to others and ultimately back to God?  We are going to have to look at the shape of the church and the way it does business in the next little while.  People have had enough of the tenants - perhaps God has too and the vineyard will be given to those who can produce the fruit instead of those who think they deserve it.  The gift is given and should not be taken from anyone.


The stone that has been rejected, Jesus, is now the central stone - the Key stone that holds the whole of creation and the world, both earthly and heavenly in His strength. He asks that we share the vineyard with all but more importantly we are to stop keeping the fruit of it for ourselves but instead give it back to God and all of His creation.

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