The Audaciously Patient Vineyard Owner
April 2, 2022
Please enjoy this marvelous exposition of the "Parable Of The Wicked Tenants" renamed by Chad Bird as: The Parable of the "Audaciously Patient Vineyard Owner"
You know the Parable of the Wicked Tenants? Those who beat up, shamed, and wounded the servants whom the owner sent to collect the rent. The same ones who, seeing the owner's son, plotted to murder him, then carried out that bloodshed (Luke 20:1-16)
Let me tell you what is *not* astonishing in this story: the wickedness of the tenants. Not at all. It's just another day at the anthropological office. Another "if it bleeds, it leads" headline.
If greed, avarice, rapacity, and murder shock you, then you are a novice when it comes to the grasping, sin-sick nature of our humanity. (Plus, you really to need to read more history!)
What is surprising? That anyone makes it through life without actually murdering someone. What is shocking is that, given life's hardness and bitterness, we are not all drunk or stoned 24/7 in our desire to escape from the pain. What is astonishing is that any marriage makes it through 50+ years of monogamy and fidelity.
And what is even more surprising--in fact, shocking? That, in this parable that Jesus tells, the owner sent his servants time and time again to tenants who repeatedly rejected and beat them. Not only that, but, given their rap sheet, he dared to send his beloved son to these brazen criminals.
What was he thinking?
Why not just have them all arrested and executed?
Why keep giving them another chance?
Why not bring down the hammer on them immediately?
What is most astonishing is not the perversity of the tenants but the patience of the owner. His long-suffering. His merciful desire that they repent.
What is amazing is not their evil, but his good.
This parable may illustrate the dark heart of sinners, but at its core, it's a revelation about the good and gracious heart of God—the God of second chances, third chances, and, yes, fourth chances and even more.
He is portrayed as a man of business, to be sure, but he does not act according to the ways of the world. He is not a Lord of commerce but a Father of compassion.
So, perhaps, instead of calling it the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, we should rename it the Parable of the Audaciously Patient Vineyard Owner. The divine Owner, who, in his own words, describes himself this way:
“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)