“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. – Matthew 21.33-43
“This is the heir” from the parable in Matthew 21.33-43 is obviously an image of Christ. It is also an image of each of us as we are all heirs to the kingdom. I wonder if this thought of being an heir ever crosses our minds as we forget the poor, cast aside those different from us, not welcome the stranger, as we hoard our goods, as we declare enemy lines or as we build our own vineyards for our own harvests. We build these kingdoms that will crumble and fall when really we need to look to the real kingdom that truly is ours.
The prophets and sages told us to prepare for the way, Jesus came and showed us the way and yet we still think we know the way. How blind we are.
I consider my own life. When I fail to live the gospel I profess to live by I don’t claim my role as heir. It is easy at times to be part of the mob thinking that says, “I have a better way.” At times I can hear the gospel challenge and close my ears, other times I know what is mine to do and fail to do so, and still at other times I meet other kingdom seekers – other heirs – and become jealous and guarded. The human weakness that is ours prevents us from keeping focused on the kingdom. I fail to see it the kingdom in front of me, in the poor, in the suffering, in the simple joys, in the everyday and in my own goodness.
Thankfully the King of my heart and yours; the king of my life and yours does not forget that we are heirs. God continually pours forth his mercy and love and says “you are mine, regardless of your weaknesses you are still and always an heir, let’s try again today, let us build the kingdom together, let me show you the Way – his name is Jesus and you can do all things through him.”
We each must claim being heir and be an heir that truly reflects our King. We must pray for strength and courage to do so each day.
Lord God, you claim us as heirs; help us to be kingdom builders today as we strive to live the gospel. As we move into this season of thanksgiving may our hearts be truly grateful that we are yours, that you live in us and for all that you bless us with each day.
May the harvest remind us that we are to go and bear fruit that will last.