The parable of the tenants is a powerful allegory that in many ways speaks for itself. You do not have to be a great theologian to understand its meaning. It is a clear, no nonsense hard hitting story that points the finger at the waywardness of Israel’s religious and legal leaders. However, this little allegory also has a clear and hard hitting message for people like you and me! It has a lot to do with the word ‘tenant’ and our understanding of how this applies to each one of us.
The Jews were ruled by the chief priests and legal scholars. They had been charged by God to care for and pastor the Jewish nation whilst they were under the occupation of Rome. Sadly, instead of caring and tending the people they became ‘lords’ and went far beyond their commission by God. They were to be simple stewards but they wanted to be ‘owners’. Through this they failed to see that the Messiah had come. This allegory can be applied to us in a number of ways. It has significant meaning for me as a pastor. I must never forget that my commission is to care for you and watch out for you. I must never ‘lord’ it over you and try to have my own way for the church. I must never forget that Christ is the ‘capstone’ and head of this church!
It also has meaning when we understand that we are only ‘tenants’ of this earth and not ‘owners’. We are only traveling through. Our rightful home as Christians is in glory with Jesus. He has told us that He has gone to prepare a room for us! We are more than tourists though, who just take in the ‘sights and sounds’ and enjoy the freedom of having little or no responsibility. No, we are tenants and tenants have a role to play in working in God’s kingdom. Jesus describes God’s kingdom with the image of a vineyard. As tenants, or more precisely stewards, we are to tend to the produce and then bring in the harvest. This is what we are to do with our years on planet earth. Perhaps Jesus’ words in are helpful here, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust dest roy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal”. Let us learn from Jesus’ harsh warning to the Jewish leaders about the importance of being faithful ‘tenants’ working with Jesus as opposed to wanting to have ‘ownership’ of all we have and do.