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The Lord Your LandLord

(68)

Sermon shared by Peter Schmidt

March 2004
Summary: Jesus compares his Father to a Landlord in Luke 20, and in this study we learn that the Lord is a perfectly patient Landlord, as well as a thoroughly just Landlord.
Series: C - Lent 5
Denomination: Lutheran
Audience: Believer adults
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the tenants. The farmers don’t own the land, and so they owe this rent in the form of crops back to the landlord. But…“but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed.” Houston, we have a problem. We’ve got some unruly farmers here, farmers who don’t even own the land they work. And yet they are acting as though the vineyard belongs to them and the landlord is the unfair one, daring to ask them for rent!

I don’t know what Gerry Niebler would have done had he knocked on our apartment door one day, to give us a friendly reminder that we were 3 months behind in our rent, and I, after hearing that news, hacked up a huge amount of phlegm and spit in his face, and yelled, “get out of here, Gerry!” I’m not quite sure how Mr. Niebler would have reacted, but I think I can guess. He probably would have started legal proceedings to get us evicted, not because I spit in his face (though that didn’t help), but because I didn’t give him what I owed him. And he definitely wouldn’t be knocking on my door a month later with another “friendly” reminder…he would have learned his lesson.

Look at the unbelievable patience of our Lord, the Landlord! After his first servant is roughed up: “He sent another servant, but that one they beat and treated shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.” No way would this ever happen in real life, that an owner show that much tolerance to treacherous tenants. And that’s exactly the point that Jesus is trying to make in this parable. The Lord has an incredible amount of patience for sinners, far more than sinners deserve.

But with each successive servant sent, the tenants become more and more hardened in their hatred. That progressive malice is illustrated with the three servants. If I ask you, “what time is it?” and you tell me, and I say, “what?” and you tell me again, and I say, “what did you say?” that third answer of yours is going to have a bite to it. In the parable, the owner shows great patience in sending servant after servant, but this only confirmed the tenants in their wickedness. They got more and more annoyed, and progressively more violent as servant after servant was sent to them.

These servants represent the prophets who were sent to Israel over the centuries. And God’s people, for the most part, ignored them, battled with them, and killed them. You might recall how Moses’s authority was constantly being challenged as he led the Israelites for 40 years through the desert. It got so bad for another prophet named Elijah that he had to run away from the Land of Israel. Tradition has it that the prophet Isaiah was killed by being sawed in two. Jeremiah didn’t get treated much better. He was an old man in exile in Egypt when he is rumored to have been stoned to death. The writer to the Hebrews sums up how God’s prophets, these servants that the landlord sent to the tenants, were treated, “others were tortured…some faced jeers and
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