In this parable (Matthew 21:33-46) the Pharisees were indignant at the thought that they might not be as good as they thought they were. As with the Pharisees, entitlement runs rampant in our culture. Don’t we as citizens of this great country sometimes take our blessings for granted and live as though we are entitled and have somehow earned these blessings? Don’t we do the same in our churches? We act at times as though the church is something we own and possess for ourselves. Like the tenants who leased the land, we have often been so busy tending to our own agendas and goals that we forget that the landowner is going to hold us accountable for what we have done with his land. Rather than serving as stewards of God’s vineyard in the world we have sometimes behaved as though the church is our private club.
The kingdom of God does not work like a marketplace. What we do in His kingdom does not exist to serve our own agendas. But rather it exists to serve something much greater than ourselves. Tending to His vineyard has nothing to do with yield. We have no idea what that yield is or will be.
Jesus describes the violent way the tenant farmers treated the servants and the landowner’s own son. He then asks them how they think the landowner will treat the tenant farmer. Thoroughly entrenched in their world’s ideology of violence and retribution, the Pharisees say that the landowner will bring those retches to a miserable end. Jesus knows that this is not quite the whole story and tells them, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.” In other words, God is not about to give up. No matter what violent acts are perpetuated against Jesus, the Father will see that the rejected stone becomes the cornerstone.
The kingdom is not ours. The kingdom belongs to God. We who live in the kingdom must enter on God’s terms and not ours. We are just stewards. This good news is worth sharing!