Summary: The fifth in a series on the Parables of Jesus, this four-point expository sermon explores the parable of vineyard tenants, focusing on the property, patience, persistence and punishment of God.
PARABLES OF JESUS ǀ THE TENANTS
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 3/2/14
Most of us are pretty familiar with product warning labels. It seems like almost everything has a warning label on it today. I recently came across some actual warning labels that really make you question the intelligence of American consumers:
A Vidal Sassoon hairdryer: DO NOT USE WHILE SLEEPING.
The label on irons says:
WARNING! NEVER IRON CLOTHES WHILE WEARING THEM.
iPod Shuffle actually has a warning that says:
DO NOT EAT IPOD SHUFFLE
Nabisco™ Easy Spread Cheese announces on its label:
FOR BEST RESULTS REMOVE CAP.
Auto-Windshield sun visor bears the reminder:
DO NOT DRIVE WITH SUNSHADE IN PLACE
The label on a Dremel Rotary Tool says:
THIS PRODUT IS NOT INTENDED FOR USE AS A DENTAL DRILL.
A warning label on a pair of Superman pajamas:
WARNING! THIS GARMENT DOES NOT ENABLE WEARER TO FLY.
A warning label, however obvious the warning may be, is designed to keep us from harm. On the Sunday before the crucifixion, Jesus was welcomed by the cheers of the people and, over the next few days, He taught openly in the temple courts. But everywhere he turned, those pesky Scribes and Pharisees were there to oppose him, challenge him, and plot against him. And so Jesus provides a sort of “warning label” in the form of a parable about a landowner and some tenant farmers. Here’s what he says:
“A man planted a vineyard and leased it to some farmers. Then he went away for a long time. When it was time for the grapes to be picked, he sent a servant to the farmers to get some of the grapes. But they beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant. They beat this servant also, and showed no respect for him, and sent him away empty-handed. So the man sent a third servant. The farmers wounded him and threw him out. The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What will I do now? I will send my son whom I love. Maybe they will respect him.’ But when the farmers saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This son will inherit the vineyard. If we kill him, it will be ours.’ So the farmers threw the son out of the vineyard and killed him. What will the owner of this vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those farmers and will give the vineyard to other farmers.” (Luke 20:9-16 NCV)
When Jesus finished telling this parable, the Bible says, “The teachers of the law and the leading priests wanted to arrest Jesus at once, because they knew the story was about them” (Luke 20:19 NCV). For many years now these religious leaders practiced a godless religion. Their rites, rules and rituals became a substitute for truly knowing God. They weren’t using the product for its intended purpose. But Jesus came to earth to show us what God is really like. In this parable, He reveals four foundational aspects of the nature of God—a warning label for anyone who thinks they don’t need God in their life. First, Jesus reveals God’s property.
• GOD’S PROPERTY
At the beginning of the parable, Jesus said, “A man planted a vineyard and leased it to some farmers” (vs. 9). That man, of course, is God. God is the owner. Only God doesn’t just own a nice little vineyard in the countryside. He owns everything!
Psalm 50:10 says, “For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills” (NLT). And, as Dave Ramsey says—he owns the hills too! In fact, the Bible says, “The earth belongs to God! Everything in all the world is his!” (Psalm 24:1 TLB). In other words, it’s His world, we’re just living in it! We don’t own anything, we’re just the tenants.
And do you know what else that means? It means, from the moment we set foot in this world, we owe a debt to God. We’re living on his planet, we’re breathing his air, and we’re eating his food. The clothes on your back—made from his cotton. The gas in your car—derived from his fossil fuels. You don’t even own you—the iron in your blood, the calcium in your teeth, and the carbon in your genes were produced by the stars that God stretched across the cosmos. God gives us our abilities. God gives us our resources. God gives us our skills and talents. God gives us opportunities. God gives us life and strength and energy. God gives us our homes and jobs and families. We owe him everything we have and everything we are—my life, my soul, my all belong to him.