What kind of Tenant are you?

The Parables of Jesus

April 3, 2022

What kind of Tenant are you?

Matthew 21:33-44, Isaiah 1:1-5

About 30 years ago, friends of ours purchased a rental home. They felt it was a good investment for themselves. In addition, they could make money from the rental, and there was a good tax write-off involved for them.

Between any landlord and renter, there is always an agreement signed. Usually, they do a background check on the wood be renters. If they pass that background check, usually there is a deposit of first, last, and one month’s rent.

Generally, there is a promise in the signed agreement. For example, suppose the rented home or apartment remains in good condition, and the renter doesn’t break the lease. In that case, they will receive their rent deposit when they leave.

Over several years my friends had several renters in the home they owned. When a renter left, it always meant going in and cleaning and repairing the house. Needless to say, the renters did not receive their deposit back.

On one occasion, my friends had to ask the renter to leave because of the poor condition of upkeep on the house. After they moved out, my friends found the home in horrible shape, having to put several thousand dollars into it for repairs. Eventually, they sold the property.

That brings us to today’s Parable.


After my friend’s experience, I always promised myself I would never be a Landlord. In today’s story, a landowner rents out his property. He finds out that his tenants are very greedy and self-serving.

The Parable of the Tenants

 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last, of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So, they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

“He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;

the Lord has done this,

and it is marvelous in our eyes’ (21:42 Psalm 118:22,23)?

 “Therefore, I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them.” Matthew 21:33-45

The best way to keep this Parable in perspective is to read the passage from Isaiah that Jesus borrows from.

I will sing for the one I love

a song about his vineyard:

My loved one had a vineyard

on a fertile hillside.

He dug it up and cleared it of stones

, and planted it with the choicest vines.

He built a watchtower in it

and cut out a winepress as well.

Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,

but it yielded only bad fruit.

“Now, you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah,

judge between me and my vineyard.

What more could have been done for my vineyard

than I have done for it?

When I looked for good grapes,

why did it yield only bad?

Now I will tell you

what I am going to do to my vineyard:

I will take away its hedge,

and it will be destroyed;

I will break down its wall,

and it will be trampled. Isaiah 1:1-5

Let’s begin with the final verse of the Parable from the book of Matthew.

“When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them.” 

This Parable is not directed at the people of Israel or Jesus’ disciples. Instead, Jesus is talking about the religious leaders of Israel, the chief priests, and Pharisees. And they knew that He was talking about them.

Let’s break the Parable down. The landowner is God. The tenants are the Jewish leaders. The servants who were sent to retrieve the landowners’ share of the crops are the prophets of the Old Testament.

The Jewish leaders rejected God’s prophets for generations. Their job was to grow the Old Testament church. They were supposed to encourage people to grow in their love and faith in God. Instead of bringing people to repentance and dependence on God. They consistently rejected what the prophets had to say. They were supposed to encourage people to grow in their love and faith in God. But that never happened. Even though the prophets carried God’s very words to the leaders and people.

The landowner’s son, of course, is Jesus. This Parable took place just a few days before Christ’s death. He was predicting what was going to happen to Him. And Jesus forewarned them that because they were plotting to kill Him, those very plots and schemes would bring down judgment on them.

Jesus expects us to follow through on His words, whereas the church leaders of His time did not. So it’s our job to spread the good seed of the Gospel and watch people grow in the faith, unlike the grapes in the Isaiah passage.

Let’s not waste time because we don’t know how much time we have. Instead, let’s join together and grow God’s Kingdom bringing His Word and love to the lost.

Dear Jesus. Let us never be like the tenants in today’s Parable. Instead, we pray that your Spirit guides us to share your Gospel story or love and redemption with everyone. Amen.

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