Summary: God wants us to welcome his Son, serve him faithfully, and return to him the fruit of our lives and labor.
Title: What God Wants (A Communion Meditation)
Text: Matthew 21:33-46
Thesis: God wants us to welcome his Son, serve him faithfully, and return to him the fruit of our lives and our labor.
This story reminded me of my agrarian roots where it was customary for absentee landowners to rent their land to farmers. The arrangement was a bit more sophisticated than the old image of sharecrop farmers, but the idea is the same.
Some owners rented their land on a crop share basis… the formula was often that the owner would receive 1/3 of the crop and the renter would keep 2/3 of the crop. There were variables in the agreements re if the landowner shared proportionately in the expenses of raising the crop or if the bulk of the expenses and the labor rested wholly on the farmer renting the land.
Some were more canny in their contractural arrangements… some landowners were unwilling to take the risk of receiving a share of the crop, so they would require a cash rent per acre up front, thereby insuring themselves of an income regardless of the fate of the farmer.
In our story there is a landowner who has rented his vineyard to farmers on a share of the crop basis… he did not demand payment up front. But he did expect that he would receive his rent from those to whom he had entrusted his land at the time of the harvest.
This is a parable… a parable is a short fictional story that makes a point. In the most simple terms, a parable is an earthly story w/a heavenly meaning. The elements of a story told as a parable contribute to the story but are not necessarily points in an of themselves.
It is also an allegory. An allegory is also a fictional story with a point, but the particular elements of the story have meaning and are necessary to understanding the point. The elements of the story are pointed and necessary to understanding the story.
The Elements In the Parable of the Evil Farmers make specific inferences.
• The Landowner is God.
• The Vineyard is the Kingdom of God on earth and the place we serve God (43).
• The Tenant Farmers are the Jewish religious leaders (45).
• The Harvest is the fruit born by the good done in the Kingdom.
• The Rent is what God expects in return from those to whom he has entrusted his vineyard.
• The Servants are the prophets God sent to his people.
• The Son is Jesus Christ.
• And the Other Nation is the Gentiles and ultimately the Church of Jesus Christ.
The meaning(s) of the Parable of the Evil Farmers expand our understanding of the story.
• God has given us the opportunity to work in his kingdom here on earth.
• God has given us everything we need to produce fruit in his vineyard.
• God has expectations of us… he expects that we will be fruitful.
• God has demonstrated patience with us but he continues to expect that we will produce fruit for him.
• God has sent his Son whom we may either receive or reject.
• God has promised to bless those who receive his Son and give him the fruit of their lives and to remove and destroy those who reject his Son and who refuse to give him the fruit of their lives.