Forfeiture for non-payment of rent

Week beginning: 1st September, 2019 | By Andrew Myers | St Albans

…"A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

"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 20:9b-13 (NIV)

Jesus addresses here a common problem faced by lawyers acting for landlords: tenant default. Rent (in the form of fruit from the demised vineyard) is demanded, but not paid. Three servants in turn come to collect the rent, but are sent away empty-handed, each having been beaten more shamefully treated than the last. This abuse constitutes a great insult to the landlord.

"What shall I do?", this landlord asks himself. He is entitled to go in anger to sort the defaulting tenants out. But he doesn't do that. Instead, in total vulnerability he sends his own son, his beloved son, humbly, alone and unarmed. Perhaps the tenants will feel shame in his presence, the landlord thinks, and mend their ways.

Sadly the tenants do not respect the son: they kill him, in an attempt to seize what was not theirs. So the landlord comes, and the tenants lose not just their lease, but their lives. The vineyard is re-let to others.

In total vulnerability the Landlord of the World sent his own son, his beloved son – the teller of this parable, in fact. He too was rejected by those to whom he was sent.

Just as in the parable, rejecting that son has consequences. One day that Son, Jesus, will come back. For those who rejected him, that re-entry will be anything but peaceable.


Lord, teach us to realise the seriousness of that day of your return.