Thursday, April 28, 2005

Control of the Vineyard

"Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard...
A lot is made of the risky images used to represent God in the parables Luke records, but the image in this parable from Matthew might be equally off-putting to Luke: a landowner. On the surface it seems like a safe choice. After all, "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." But in first century Palestine, the landowners were the upper class, the "haves", while the common people who did not own land often lived at their mercy. So immediately I would wonder, what kind of landowner is this going to be.

But the parable isn't about him (the landowner, God), it's about me, the tenant. The non-land-owning tenants are apparently looking for a leg up. When the owner sends for his produce, twice the tenants refuse to give it. Then when he sends his son, they kill the son, hoping to gain possession of the land.

This happens in Christianity. The Lord has prepared a vineyard for us, and he expects it to yield fruit. But we Christians too often are hungry for God's power and glory and not concerned about the fruit of the kingdom. If we can just eliminate the Son, the inheritence will be ours and we can use the kingdom as we like. We can proclaim proseprity in the name of God instead of love. We can proclaim power and triumph instead of humility and service. If only we can gain control of the kingdom of God, we can use it as we see fit.

One of the things inherent in this parable is that the tenants don't trust the landowner. They aren't satisfied that he will provide for them. Or at least, they want more than they think he will provide.

Lord, increase our faith.


LutheranChik said...

And that mentality certainly manifests itself in the political sphere as well as the personal one.

Anonymous said...

Christ did not 'mince words' about the final reality of people.