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The Parables of Jesus Part 16
Matthew 21:33-45, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 20:9-19, Isaiah 5:1-7 - We can produce much fruit for the kingdom if we believe in Him and obey His commands.
““Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?” They *said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.”
Jesus *said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone; This came about from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet.”
Matthew 21:33-46 NASB1995
“And He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and put a wall around it, and dug a vat under the wine press and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers. They took him, and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some and killing others. He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those vine-growers said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’ They took him, and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others.
Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone; This came about from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?” And they were seeking to seize Him, and yet they feared the people, for they understood that He spoke the parable against them. And so they left Him and went away.”
Mark 12:1-12 NASB1995
“And He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. And he proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out. The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.”
When they heard it, they said, “May it never be!” But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.””
Luke 20:9-18 NASB1995
Yes, I have another vineyard picture for my intro photo to this parable. The parable of the tenants or the murderous vine-growers or the parable of the vineyard is found in the three synoptic Gospels. In Matthew, it is told right after the parable of the two sons that Jesus taught during that last week in Jerusalem; that particular version is the most comprehensive, although there are some differences worth reading in Mark and Luke. The landowner puts a great deal of effort into the vineyard, surrounding it with a wall and adding a wine press and a tower. He rents it out to tenant vine-growers and leaves to go on a journey. When he returns he sends out his servants to receive some of the produce that he should receive from the tenants. They beat and even kill his servants, so he finally sends his son, who is killed because the tenants believe they can receive an inheritance of the land. The audience listening to this parable believes that the tenants will be dealt with quite harshly and the land rented to other vine growers.
I found a marvelous explanation in Gotquestions.org for what the different players in the parable represent:
Background: There are 6 main characters in this parable: 1) the landowner—God, 2) the vineyard—Israel, 3) the tenants/farmers—the Jewish religious leadership, 4) the landowner’s servants—the prophets who remained obedient and preached God’s word to the people of Israel, 5) the son—Jesus, and 6) the other tenants—the Gentiles. The imagery used is similar to Isaiah’s parable of the vineyard (it would be prudent to study this also) found in Isaiah chapter 5. The watchtower and the wall mentioned in verse 33 are means of protecting the vineyard and the ripened grapes. The winepress is obviously for stamping out the juice of the grapes to make the wine. The farmer was apparently away at the time of harvest and had rented the vineyard to the tenants. This was customary of the times, and he could expect as much as half of the grapes as payment by the tenants for use of his land.
So here is the parable of the vineyard found in Isaiah 5, for the reader to contemplate:
“Let me sing now for my well-beloved A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug it all around, removed its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it And also hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones.
“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. I will lay it waste; It will not be pruned or hoed, But briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel And the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.”
Isaiah 5:1-7 NASB1995
Here are further explanations of the parable in Matthew, from Gotquestions.org; links go to Bibleref.com:
Explanation: Verses 34-36 tell us the landowner sent his servants to collect his portion of the harvest and how they were cruelly rejected by the tenants; some were beaten, stoned, and even killed. Then he sent even more the second time and they received the same treatment.
The servants sent represent the prophets that God had sent to His people/Israel and then were rejected and killed by the very people who were claiming to be of God and obedient to Him. Jeremiah was beaten (Jeremiah 26:7-11; 38:1-28), John the Baptist was killed (Matthew 14:1-12), and others were stoned (2 Chronicles 24:21). In this parable Jesus is not only reminding the religious establishment what they were like, but He was putting in their minds a question: how could they claim obedience as God’s people and still reject His messengers? We don’t know how many servants the owner sent, but that is not what is important; the theme is God’s repeated appeal through His prophets to an unrepentant people. In the next verses (37-39), the situation becomes even more critical.
The landowner sends his own son, believing that they will surely respect him. But the tenants see an opportunity here; they believe that if they kill the son they will then receive his inheritance. The law at the time provided that if there were no heirs then the property would pass to those in possession (possession is nine tenths of the law). This amounts to conspiracy to commit murder by the Jewish leadership, and it is prophetic in the sense that Jesus is now telling them what they are going to do to Him (see Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16). After Jesus’ death, Peter would make the same charges against the religious establishment (Acts 4:8-12). The tenants probably thought that the fight for the property was over, but it wasn’t; the owner would now appear on the scene.
This parable is targeted directly at the religious leadership and they know it. They don’t have the courage yet to seize Jesus, but the time is getting very close. The Kingdom of God will be taken away from them and given to those who can produce fruit (all those who hear and accept the Word). He is the cornerstone and foundation for faith but that stone also destroys those who cannot see the truth in front of their eyes. I found this perfect picture of a cornerstone with a wedding sign on it - we shall join with Him in the wedding of the bridegroom and His faithful church at the end of all things!
Here’s a final thought from Gotquestions.org on how we can apply this parable to our lives:
Application: We apply this parable to our lives by asking two questions; first, have you come to know Christ as your Lord and Savior, or have you rejected Him like the Jewish leadership did? The process is simple, as long as you are sincere in seeking a relationship with Christ. You need to recognize your sins, and then accept Christ as the only One who can save you from the penalty of your sins. Second, if you are a believer, what have you done with Jesus? Are you like the bad tenants, rejecting His Word and living a life of disobedience? If you are, you need to study God’s Word and pray for guidance, seeking His will for your life and living out that will as best as you can, moment by moment, day by day.
I could not have said it better!
My next devotional examines the parable of the Wedding Banquet (how appropriate), found in Matthew 22:2-14.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord - Help me to know your will for my life so I can live it out the best I can for the remaining days of my life. Help me to produce fruit for the Kingdom and help me and others prepare for the Great Wedding. Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
Gotquestions.org was accessed on 10/12/2023 to find the answers to the parable of the vineyard.