The Parable of the Tenants

Sir John Everett Millais (British, Southampton 1829–1896 London) The Wicked Husbandman (The Parables of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ), 1864 British,  Wood engraving; proof on India paper; image: 5 1/2 x 4 5/16 in. (13.9 x 10.9 cm) sheet: 7 5/16 x 6 1/16 in. (18.6 x 15.4 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1921 (21.68.4(8))
Sir John Everett Millais (British, Southampton 1829–1896 London) The Wicked Husbandman (The Parables of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ), 1864 British,
Image in the Public Domain

The Parable of the Tenants

We Christians have been at “this” so long that we don’t even question what “this” actually is. Most of us walk into church every Sunday and, sometimes Wednesday, and we just do whatever we did the previous Wednesday or Sunday. We are told to kneel, we kneel. We are told to sing, we sing. We’re told to offer peace to the person sitting next to us and we robotically comply. But I suspect…with a high degree of confidence that if someone were to ask the kneeling, singing, peace offering church goer why they kneel and sing and offer peace most would point toward the pulpit and say “he told me to”. Church, to most of us, is not much more than following orders. Believe me, I know. I knelt, sang and peace-offered on cue for most of my life. I “toed the line” loyally, never once asking myself “why”. After all, I’m old enough to have witnessed the once-common stinging consequences of religious curiosity. Don’t ask, don’t swell. The church was in charge and they made sure you didn’t forget it. Though the methods may have changed, the philosophy has not.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not an anarchist. I believe in leadership. I believe God’s intention is to put men in leadership positions over His people. The Bible makes that clear. Jesus makes that clear and His Parable of the Tenants tells us that. Whenever Jesus told a parable He was trying to describe either what the Kingdom is like OR what it is not like. Theologians categorize them as Parables of Comparison or Parables of Contrast. The Parable of the Tenants, our topic for this week, is a Parable of Comparison and in it Jesus tells us that God’s Plan for His people includes assigning leadership roles. God intends you and I and His Creation to be led and administered by mankind. Why? We don’t know. For how long? We aren’t told but His current method of getting things done involves human leadership and, according to Jesus, we have made quite a mess of it. That’s the central point of the Parable of the Tenants. That’s why He told that story.

God’s Word is vital to our relationship with Him. He has called us all to produce fruit and He has provided everything we need to fulfill that calling. The Parable of the Tenants (sometimes called the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen) serves to warn us of the implications of misusing what He has given us. We were created to serve Him and He will, someday, return to collect His due.

I realize this little introduction is not very pleasant. I realize that what I put here may not motivate you to eagerly listen to this weeks podcast but, nonetheless, I encourage you to join us for this most important discussion from God’s Word. But, as always, before you get started, go to the Father in prayer and ask Him to open your heart and mind and make you receptive to all that He has to say to us: the sweet as well as the stern; the comforting as well as the corrective; the renewing as well as the rebuking.