Luke 20: “Stewards, Not Owners”

January 15, 1989

WEST PALM BEACH — FILMING HITS SNAG. Burt Reynolds’ film crew was busy exploding a front lawn for an episode of the B.L. Stryker television series when the home’s angry owner called saying they didn’t have permission to use the property. When Daniel O’Brien of Ardsley, N.Y., learned that Reynolds’ production company was crashing cars in front of his West Palm Beach home and had given his living room the look of a motel, he called, demanding answers. ”They’re blowing up the front lawn. They put carpet down and put new paintings up. They have no permission to do this,” said O’Brien’s son, Kieran, from New York. Neither watched the filming in person. Blue Period Inc. told O’Brien they had permission from his tenants, Ricardo and Laura Gonzalez, who signed an agreement allowing the filming. Mrs. Gonzalez refused to answer questions Friday. Officials of Reynolds’ company said they were under the impression the Gonzalezes owned the three-bedroom house until O’Brien telephoned Friday morning.

Can you imagine sitting in New York and getting a phone call from your neighbor in West Palm Beach? “Ah, Daniel, did you know they’re shooting a T.V. show at your house? Yeah, I’m looking out the window right now…watching the whole thing. I’m pretty sure they just blew up a car on your front lawn.” This story almost sounds too crazy to be true, but you know what they say, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

In Luke 20, Jesus tells an equally crazy parable that unfortunately was about to become all too true. If you haven’t already, turn to Luke 20:9-16 to get caught up on the Parable of the Evil Farmers.

Could you imagine the audacity of these tenant farmers? Just so we’re clear: Tenant farmers would have worked on land that they rented, not owned. So it would have been crazy for renters to beat up the person who was going to the farm to collect the rent for the owner.

To truly understand this parable, we must identify the characters:                               Owner of the Vineyard         God
The Vineyard                        Israel
The Tenant Farmers            Religious leaders of Israel
Servants of the Owner         The Prophets and Priests
Son/Heir of the Owner         Jesus Christ                                                                                 The Others                            Gentiles

Here’s the simple fact: The religious leaders forgot that they were the stewards, not the owners of religion in Israel. The whole reason why Jesus even tells this parable was ultimately to answer the religious leaders question,“By what authority are you doing these things (20:2)?” Jesus shows that he has authority by pointing to the fact that his father is the owner of the vineyard (Israel) and he is the heir.

Our takeaway for today is simply this: Don’t fall into the same trap as the Pharisees and think that you are the owner when you’re simply the steward. This can apply to multiple areas of your life, take for instance your finances.

We tend to think that we are the owner and the manager of our finances. But the truth is, God is the owner, he owns it all, but God trusts us with what’s his and calls us to steward (manage) it well.

The sooner you can understand that we steward God’s possessions and properties, the sooner he will start trusting us to keep stewarding. Don’t forget what we read earlier this week in Luke 16:10-12 10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? 12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?