Today's Reading - Luke 20:1-19
On the surface, the Parable of the Tenants reads just like a story of a scenario a landowner during the time of Jesus would encounter. The landowner purchases land; plants a vineyard on this land; and, because he lives far away from this land, rents it out to farmers to tend to the crops. Once the harvest time comes, he sends first servants and then his son to collect the crops that are rightfully his. The farmers beat the servants when they are sent one-by-one to collect the crops for their master. When the son is sent, they kill him, expecting the landowner will then give them his inheritance. Instead, the landowner plans to kill the farmers and give the vineyard to other individuals.
In actuality, the parable is loaded with meaning. The landowner represents God and the vineyard His promise to us. The farmers are the leader of Israel, the servants are the prophets, and the son is Jesus. The message Jesus is trying to convey to the teachers of the law and the chief priests is that because they have rejected Him and the messengers His Father sent before Him, they will not benefit from the promise. However, their people, who did not take part in the leaders’ wickedness, will not be punished for the behavior of their leaders.
Do I have an exact, real-life personal example of this parable that comes to mind? No, because that would mean, more than likely, I am writing this post from prison (technically, if I were a convicted murderer, I would not have had the opportunity to write this post because I doubt I could have become an intern at a church). Can I think of a less-extreme example? Yes.
I should have left Norfolk three and a half years ago. Yes, you read that correctly. The person who probably appears at home in Norfolk and tries to make others feel so too almost left what has become her adopted home. Back in 2011, I was going to leave Old Dominion University because I wanted to enter a PhD program for criminal justice, the field in which I received my first two degrees. Most of the individuals with whom I discussed my plans to leave tried to talk me out of it (these people represent the servants in the passage). Did I listen to them? No. Instead, I made more concrete plans to leave. I notified the program I was going to enter of my intent to accept their offer of admission. I booked a flight to my new location. I signed a lease and put a security deposit down on an apartment in my new city.
My currently being an intern at a church in Norfolk makes it obvious I did not follow through with these plans. What happened? Unlike the farmers (who I most closely resemble in this story), a combination of continued messages from my “messengers” and some self-reflection led me to the conclusion leaving Norfolk, ODU, and my academic program would be the worst decision I ever made. I analyzed the real reasons I wanted to leave and made the appropriate changes to my life so I would have better experiences from there on out. Has it been all rainbows and butterflies since I decided to stay? Of course not! Have all the experiences I have had in Norfolk made me a better person? Definitely! I think about who I was when I came here and who I have become on account of these experiences and I am very grateful I was not as close-minded as the farmers in the parable.
My story is far from a perfect example of the parable, but the basic moral is the same. God puts people in our life for a reason, in this instance to deliver a message. Unlike the farmers, I finally listened to the message God wanted to tell me and I benefitted from having an open mind.
When were you stubborn and wanted to take one course of action even though multiple messages and messengers told you to take another?
In hindsight, do you wish you made a different decision, why or why not?
How can we continue to show patience towards those who are not open to our advice?
Ok, put your Bible down and live this week like it was the last!
by Jennifer Giblin