Jesus’ audience could easily identify with the story about an absentee landlord and his not-so-good tenants. It was quite common for the owners to rent out their estates to tenants. Their wealth allowed them to travel and own houses in other places. Jesus’ story, however, was unsettling to some. Why did the scribes and Pharisees in particular feel offended? Jesus’ parable contained both a prophetic message and a warning to the religious community and its leaders. Isaiah had spoken of the house of Israel as “the vineyard of the Lord.” Isaiah warned his people that their unfaithfulness would yield bad fruit if they did not repent and change. Jesus’ listeners understood this parable as a reminder that God will in due time root out bad fruit and put an end to rebellion. What does Jesus’ parable tell us about God? First, it tells us of His generosity and trust. The vineyard is well equipped with everything the tenants need. The owner went away and left the vineyard in the hands of the tenants. God, likewise trusts us enough to give us freedom to live life as we choose. It also tells us of God’s patience and justice. Not one, but many times He forgives the tenants their debts. But while the tenants take advantage of the owner’s patience, His judgment and justice prevail in the end. Jesus foretold both His death and His ultimate triumph. He knew he would be rejected by His own people and be killed, but He also knew that would not be the end. After rejection would come the glory of Resurrection and Ascension to the right hand of the Father. The Lord continues to bless us with the gift of His Kingdom. And He promises that we will bear much fruit if we abide in Him and remain faithful. He entrusts us with His gifts and grace and gives us a particular work to do in His vineyard. He promises that our labor will not be in vain if we persevere with faith to the end. We can expect trials and difficulties as we labor for the Lord, and even persecution from those who oppose His Kingdom. But in the end we will see triumph. Do you labor for the Lord with joyful hope and with confidence in His victory?