Parable of the Landowner

“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.” (Mt 21:33-46)

In the Parable of the Two Sons Jesus was responding to the religious leaders towards their rejection of John the Baptist. Today we are looking at the Parable of the Landowner, which is also a response of Jesus to the religious leaders in the Temple. Jesus was addressing their sinfulness in their rejection of the Son of God Jesus Himself.

To the Jewish people of the day when the subject of a vineyard comes into the conversation the picture is that of Israel as God’s Vineyard. This thought was known to the people by the Prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 5:1-7) The scribes and the Pharisees knew the promises that God had made to Abraham. That from his seed a great nation would come and the number would be as the grains of sand. They were the chosen people of God to be a holy priesthood that the world would know God through them. They had been long waiting for their Messiah to come and now that Jesus was here, they were rejecting Him. God also told Abraham, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:18)

Jesus came to save His people but His people were rejecting Him and so He told the religious leaders this in verse 43. “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.” (Matthew 21:43) God’s Vineyard, the nation of Israel was not producing fruit for the Kingdom of God. Now Jesus was telling the Jewish leaders that the opportunity would be given to those who would produce fruit for the Kingdom of God.

It was God who planted the vineyard and therefore in this Parable God is the landowner. The vine-dressers who acted wickedly were the religious leaders of Israel. This would be the Chief Priest, the Pharisees, the scribes, elders, and all of their followers. This then would be the physical nation of Israel as a whole. Those leaders who were in the Temple that day understood what Jesus was telling them. “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them.” (Matthew 21:45)

The servants who were sent on behalf of the landowner were the prophets that were sent by God to reason with His people. But the people would not listen and they mocked the prophets of God, they despised the Words of God, and scoffed at the prophets. (2 Chronicles 36:15-16) Later Jesus cried over His people as He was entering into Jerusalem. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” (Matthew 23:37)

The landowner, God, sent His Son, Jesus, and they killed Him by crucifying Him on a Roman cross. Therefore, the Jewish nation, God’s chosen people, His Vineyard rejected the Son of God who came to seek and to save that which was lost. God is love and God is just and we see that Israel’s rejection of their Messiah, the Son of God resulted in their condemnation from God. The Jewish nation lost the blessings that God had given them and the blessings were given to a more deserving people, the Gentiles. As we saw in verse 43. This should not have been a surprise to them as it was foretold in the book of Psalm. “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:22-23)

The builders were the religious leaders of the Nation of Israel and the stone that they had rejected was their Messiah. Yet, this rejected stone would become the chief cornerstone by God Himself. God had planned to build something new from the chief cornerstone His Church. The Church of Jesus Christ would be filled both with Jews and Gentiles who would be fellow citizens of the Kingdom of God. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:22-23) The Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.” (Ephesians 2:19-20)

Jesus as the Chief cornerstone of His Church there are consequences for those who reject Him. “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” (Matthew 21:44) Anyone who opposes Christ as their Messiah is destined to fall and could even be pulverized in the present world. Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to God, there is no other way regardless of what other false religions tell us. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) The point of this Parable can be summed up with these words from Psalm. “Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:12)

The religious leaders at the Temple did not miss the words that Jesus had spoken in this Parable. Their reaction was not what we would have hoped for, they desired to arrest Him but they feared the people. (Matthew 21:45-36)

God chose the Israelite people and blessed then with wonderful privileges. He made them a nation of laws, He gave them priests to speak on their behalf and perform sacrifices for their sins, and He gave them prophets that they would know what God desired for them. God also sent them His Son as their Messiah that they could find redemption and a righteous life.

For us today, have we not also received wonderful privileges from God? We have in our possession His Word and the freedom to worship Him without fear of persecution. There are many in the world today that do not have that freedom. Through His Word and the inspiration of His Holy Spirit we know things that the prophets, kings, and the saints of old desired to hear and see. “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. “For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:16-17)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, December 21, 2016

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