The Tenants
​​In order to understand this parable as it pertains to us, we need to visit two themes that show up regularly in Jesus’ teaching. The first involves fruit-bearing and harvesting and finds it roots in Isaiah 5 . Three times in the gospels, we are told that “every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Of course, the tenants who withhold fruit are like a tree (or vineyard) that doesn’t yield any.  (also see this parable and  this one ) So what kind of fruit is God expecting from us? In Galatians 5:22,23 we find the answer: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Second, we also need to understand that we don’t get to choose who God’s representatives (i.e., the servants he sends) to us are; God does!  ( also see this parable   and this teaching ) We might not even like them! It doesn’t matter. If we don’t like them, that isn’t God’s problem – it is ours! 

In fact, we should understand that everyone we encounter throughout our lives is one of God’s representatives. God has sent them to us because he expects us to deliver (to God through them) a harvest of love, or of joy, or of peace, or kindness, or goodness, or faithfulness or gentleness or self-control.

When someone is rude to you? That’s God sending His servant to you for a harvest of self-control. When you get blamed for something someone else did? That’s God sending His servant to you for a harvest of peace. When you come home to an enormous mess in the kitchen? Faithfulness. When your neighbor doesn’t clean up the mess his dog left on your lawn? Kindness. And Jesus makes it clear that our place in the Kingdom of God depends on these deliveries of good fruit to his representatives.

 Matthew 21:33 (ESV) Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”
42 Jesus said to them...
43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. (see also Mark 12:1-12, Luke 20:9-19)
If you are a Christian, you might object to that. Because you have been told (correctly) that your salvation depends only on how you respond to Jesus. But notice how Jesus connects the failure of these tenants to deliver the harvest with their mistreatment of the master's only son...!​​