Summary: We claim our kingdoms and possessions and call them "mine." God lays claim to all and calls us to acknowledge it as his.
Matthew 21:33-46 "The Tyranny of Mine"
Two friends were walking in the forest one day when suddenly they stumbled upon a large grizzly bear who decided that they looked like a good snack. The two started running away when all of a sudden one of them stopped. The other said, "What are you stopping for? Don’t you know the grizzly bear is right behind us?" His friend replied, "I am tying my shoe so I can run faster." At this he couldn’t help but laugh, "What you think you’ll outrun the grizzly?" The friend replied, "I don’t have to outrun the grizzly, I only have to outrun you."
Deep in our DNA is a propensity for self-centeredness. Selfishness is a dominate gene in the human race. Perhaps, in the past, self-centeredness was necessary for our survival. Now it is a characteristic that nullifies our witness of God's grace and love. It denies the truth that God truly is the provider of our daily bread, and it robs us of our experience of the abundant life. Finding something bigger than ourselves in which to believe--such as becoming a disciples of Jesus Christ--is essential for our happiness. Self-centered egotistical people score lowest in any test for measuring happiness. Source unknown
Our Lord is experienced in dealing with self-centered people, though. Today's parable gives us a clear picture of how God intercedes in the lives of the egotistical, self-centered, selfish people.
Jesus and the chief priests (and other religious leaders) continue to be in a argument over Jesus' authority. Jesus tells the parable in that context.
There are several different perspectives from which to view this parable. Many in the crowd, who heard this parable, thought that the wicked tenants were obviously the religious and political leaders of the day. The chief priests placed themselves in the role of the landowner. (Many of them were absentee landlords). The Christians of the early church and we, ourselves, might think that we are the inheritors of the kingdom; once the landlord deals with the wicked tenants he will give the vineyard to us.
Nobody sees themselves as the wicked tenants. Jesus ends his conversation with the chief priests by accusing them of being the wicked tenants, who have killed the prophets and also killed the son. We can't turn our backs on this parable easily. If we make more than a passing glance at this Scripture passage we will see ourselves.
Our God has given has given us life itself. Yet, rather, than offer ourselves as living sacrifices, as Paul instructed the Roman Christians in his letter to them, we live our lives for ourselves. We do our own thing. We seek our own goals, set our own priorities, and chart our own course. We may not rough up those who advise us to change our ways, but we certainly yield to the temptation to ignore them.
In Genesis the Lord tells Abraham and Sarah that he has blessed them to be a blessing. In a consumer orientated society, we tend to keep our blessings to ourselves. We can't lend a deaf ear to the hundreds and thousands of advertisements that we see and hear each day. All of us have a list (some much longer than others) of what we want and feel we need in order for our lives to be happier, more comfortable, and more what we believe we are entitled to.
Though the concept of tithing is encouraged throughout the Scriptures, most of us can confess along with a majority of Christians that we do not practice tithing in our personal lives and finances.
In the first chapter of Genesis, God gives the world to manage and care for. Our response has been everything from pollution and global warming, to the elimination of animal species, to the hoarding of the earth's resources.
Like the wicked tenants, we stand judged and condemned.
WILD AND CRAZY GOD
When asked what they would do, if they were the landowner, the chief priests and other religious leaders cry out that they would take up arms, kill the tenants and give the vineyard over to other, better tenants.
That's not what God did. When faced with rebellious tenants he sent his son. There was no army. There was no judgment. There was only an act of love and redemption.
God didn't do the logical thing. The reasoning that the tenants would respect the son even after they had beaten up and killed those who had gone before him was a little faulty. God did the wild and crazy thing. He loved us and sacrificed all for us.
God continues to astound us by acting in a wild and crazy manner throughout our lives. Though we are doubtful, hesitant, rebellious and even unloving, God continues to call us his own. God infuses us with his Holy Spirit--so that we can be a part form him. God answers our prayers differently than what we ask for. God turns bad into good. The Spirit nudges us along paths that we had no idea were there and he blesses us in ways that are beyond our comprehension.