Monday, January 4, 2010

The Vineyard is...???

"Then (Jesus) began to speak to them in parables.  'A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country...'" 
(Mark 2:1)

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants.  It's not one of Jesus' more 'high profile' or widely recognized parables... but it's familiar enough, nonetheless.  Basic story:  a man plants a vineyard, gets it all set up & operational, then leases it to tenants.  When it's harvest time, the tenants beat up the messengers sent to retrieve the owner's fair share of the crops.  Multiple attempts are met with similar (or worse!) outcomes.  Finally, the owner sends his only son.  Same story.  Son is killed.  the owner then casts them out, completely.

Originally, this parable was told to (about!) the Jewish religious leaders.  Of course, Jesus' own life story would follow this same storyline.  Actually, this is the storyline of all of human history - at least from a faith perspective.  We, as the tenants in God's vineyard, have not recognized the relationship with have with the Owner of the vineyard.  We haven't returned to God what's rightfully God's.  WE not only ignore but have abused his messengers over the years.

So is this a parable about stewardship of the environment?  The earth being God's vineyard, and we're all hired tenants?  Maybe.  But if this parable was told against the religious leaders... then maybe there's a more specific focus.  Maybe the vineyard is humankind... and the tenants are us spiritual leaders (pastors, priests, church leaders, etc.)?  Are we preparing the people for service to God, or simply using our church members for our own purposes (to make us feel good about ourselves?)?  Kinda dark when you think of it that way, isn't it?  THEN AGAIN... maybe the vineyard is our lives... and each of us is the tenant of that field.  So the big question is are we keeping our lives for ourselves (and our own enjoyments) or have we willingly given the rightful share to the One who "planted" (created) us?  Are we content to be self-sufficient and isolated?  Or can we embrace our relationship with our Master wholeheartedly?

I guess the true power of this parable depends on how you read it.  And what the vineyard actually is for you?!

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