May your day be full of sweet reminders of God’s love. And may you pass along that love to others.
It is easy to lose sight of the whole picture of Jesus when we gather to feast and exchange presents amid the tinsel, lights, tree, and nativity scene. A pregnant virgin, a faithful fiancé, a holy night, an angel assembly, a crew of shepherds, traveling wise men, pass the ham, and unwrap the presents. But wait . . . why??? And then what????
It appears Jesus didn’t spend time preaching about his miraculous and incredibly true birth. In fact, only two of the four gospels record bits and pieces of his birth story. But here in Luke 20 Jesus taught the Parable of the Tenants. And while it isn’t likely used in very many Christmas sermons or devotions, it actually paints a very fitting picture of why Jesus was sent – and what was “the rest of the story” – beyond the shepherds and wise men.
In this parable God plays the role of the vineyard owner. He entrusts his vineyard (earth) to mankind as farm tenants to care for his vineyard. The owner sends back several servants (Old Testament prophets) to the vineyard to retrieve some fruit for the owner. Instead the selfish, greedy tenants mistreat the servants and send them back with nothing for the master.
“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ (Luke 20:13). And so, the Son of God is given a mission for his Father: go to the vineyard to represent his Father to attain what belongs to his Father – the fruit of the vineyard. God could have done this in so many ways. He could have sent a violent and powerful son to use force to swiftly get the Father’s work done and repay the tenants for their selfish, greedy wickedness. But instead the Son was given – a baby – as the Son of Man and Son of God. And the angels rejoiced. And the shepherds were in awe as they found things just as they had been told and then joyfully shared the news.
And the Son of God “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” – the tenants of the vineyard. (Luke 2:52). And the son of the vineyard owner teaches and preaches and performs miracles to display and prove the goodness and sovereignty and master plan of the vineyard owner. But, they still don’t get it. Forsaking the master’s plan, as well as his very son, they conspire together and the tenants kill the son. Now, they figure, the vineyard will be theirs. There is no longer an heir. And so, the tenants triumph for a time and seem to have free reign of the vineyard.
But, that is not the end of the story. In his parable Jesus now switches from past tense to future tense as he says, “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” So, too, there is a future in our Christmas story today. And, there is a price that will be paid for all tenants who have chosen to forsake the son.
In your celebrating today, and in your work tomorrow, in your heart and mind and actions, in your time, in your giving, in your whole living – do not forsake the son.