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Ron Gardenhire the longtime manager of the Minnesota Twins was fired this week. Gardenhire was beloved by players, fans, and the general manager. At the end of four consecutive 90+ loss seasons, it was time for him to go. It didn’t matter how much people in the organization personally liked Gardenhire, the team didn’t win enough games. Gardenhire himself said, “We haven’t won enough games. It’s nothing more, nothing less than that.”
On the surface, the gospel this week looks pretty similar to the Gardenhire firing. The tenants don’t produce any fruit and so the master eventually kicks them out. However a closer look reveals one small but important difference. The story never says they don’t produce fruit. Instead the scripture simply states that when the servants of the master come to obtain the fruit, the tenants beat, kill, and stone the servants. It isn’t that the tenants aren’t successful in growing grapes and making wine; it’s that they don’t give to the master, the owner of the vineyard, what they owe him.
What’s crazy about this story is that the master gives the tenants so many chances. Scripture says the master first sends three servants who are beaten and killed and then other servants, “more numerous than the first ones.” But they were also killed. Instead of sending a small army to forcibly take back his vineyard, the master sends his own son to talk sense into the tenants, giving them another chance, to do the right thing. Of course, they kill him.
In this parable, God is the master and Jesus Christ is the son sent to the tenants. As easy as it would be to say that the tenants were just the Pharisees and Scribes, the reality is that I am often a wicked tenant – we all have our wicked tenant moments. We are wicked tenants when we don’t give to God what we owe him. What do we owe God? Everything. God has given us everything and if we only give back to him our very life and total self, we are only giving back what he has given us.
The good news is that God gives us opportunity upon opportunity to give what we owe back to Him. He sends us his servants and messengers every day to invite us to offer up what we owe. And the best news of all is that God has sent his son Jesus. Jesus not only invites us to surrender our lives to God, but he also shows us how to do it in his life and ultimately through his death on the cross.
Everyday we have a chance to say yes to God. Everyday we can give back to God what we owe him. Everyday God gives us all we need be good tenants of his vineyard. Will you say yes today? Will you give God yourself?
Close your eyes right now and pray this simple prayer, “God, I offer you all that owe you. Grant me the grace to know you, love you, and serve you this day. “