Jesus tells the parable of a man, a landowner, a King, let’s say, who goes on a long journey. He has some vineyards, and presumably some other stuff that he’s left under the management of the people back home, some tenant farmers who he rents out his vineyards to. They’re managing his vineyards, working his fields, perhaps managing all if his estates while he is gone. But these guys end up abusing their authority and they begin to treat the kingdom as if it belonged to them.
Sometimes, just like the people in the parable, we begin to treat the things God has given us as if they really belong to us and not to him. The scriptures say that the earth is the Lord’s and all that’s in it (Psalm 24:1 and elsewhere). Everything that that we have, even our own life is just on loan from God.
In the story, the landowner eventually gets word of what’s going on and sends his servants to set things right, to hold an accounting and collect the rent. But their lack of respect for the owner is so great that they kill the servants. When he hears what they did he decides to send his beloved son, thinking, surely they will respect my son.
So the king sends his son to his people. It should have been a time of rejoicing, to see the heir and the representative of the authority of the king come back to the people. The son was to set things right.
But their delusion of ownership and entitlement was so great that instead of welcoming him with open arms and celebration, they illogically reasoned among themselves that if they just kill the son, his inheritance and the vineyards will somehow be theirs for good, totally forgetting about the king himself and forgetting that everything they have is because of him. The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day said, we must kill him or he will take away our religion and our place, totally forgetting that it was God’s religion, that they were God’s priests, and that they were all God’s people.
And all of humanity, just like those religious leaders of the day and like the tenant farmers in the parable, we go our whole lives and just continue to do what we want to do. We can look around and see people abusing others and taking advantage. We see gifts and talents used for selfish ambition. We see horrors and atrocities committed against one another. You can fill in your own blanks. And when we don’t see judgment coming down, some of us wonder if this whole God thing is even real anyway. If he is real, he doesn’t seem to care much about what goes on down here. We kill his servants, killed his son, and take what is really his and act like it belongs to us.
And Jesus said, what do you think the king will do when he returns?
He’s given us free-rein to do what we will with what he’s given us. I believe in free-will, but we will have to give an accounting. He went on a long journey, but he sent his servants, and he sent his son, and one day he is coming back himself. But he has delayed our judgment, showing patience with us, because he gives us time to repent.
Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” … But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:3-4,8,9)
Like he told the children of Israel long ago: will you choose life or death? Every day is a choice. Our every action and the intent of our heart conveys our choice. But the good news is that God doesn’t want to punish anyone.
All we have is on loan from Him. And he will hold us to account. But he is delaying his judgment, because he wants us to repent. To me that’s good news.
So which will you choose? Life or Death?
Read the actual parable of the man who went on a long journey / the parable of the tenant farmers in Luke 20:9-18 and in Matthew 21:33-46.