LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson, Jesus was questioned about His authority and He in turns asked them a question about John the Baptist, which they would not answer. He then began giving three parables in response to the opposing Jews. We looked at one of them, which was the parable of the two sons, but in this lesson, we look at the other two.
We will begin with parable of the wicked vinedressers, which is recorded in Mt. 21:33-46; Mk. 12:1-12; Lk. 20:9-18. I am going to use Matthew’s account because all three of these accounts are basically the same except that Matthew’s account teaches us that there were multiple people involved, but the other two accounts focus on the individuals being involved. As I have pointed out in the series, Matthew tends to give us more detail when it comes to number of people involved, but Matthew also tends to generalize or summarize certain things more so than the other accounts. With this in mind, let’s look at our verses.
Matthew 21:33 " Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 34 "Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. 35 "And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 "Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. 37 "Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' 38 "But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.' 39 "So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 "Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?" 41 They said to Him, "He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons."
To show you what I was talking about, Matthew’s account mentions two different groups of people being sent and what happened to them before he sent his son. However, the other two accounts mention three different individuals being sent before the son, but Mark’s account does show us that he knew about others being sent besides these individuals. Notice what Mark says:
Mark 12:2 "Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers. 3 "And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 "Again he sent them another servant, and at him they threw stones, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. 5 "And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many others, beating some and killing some.
Mark gives us some specifics on what happened to certain individuals, but as we read in verse 5, he mentions how many others were killed and some were beaten. This parable reminds me a lot of another parable that is very similar to it in the Book of Isaiah. Listen to what it says:
Isaiah 5:1 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill. 2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes. 3 " And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. 4 What more could have been done to My vineyard That I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, Did it bring forth wild grapes? 5 And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. 6 I will lay it waste; It shall not be pruned or dug, But there shall come up briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds That they rain no rain on it." 7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.
While these parable a very similar, Isaiah was speaking about the nation of Israel as a whole, but Jesus parable seems to be pointing more toward the Jewish leaders, which would also affect those they were leading, but in both parables, the message is the same. God’s people have been fruitless though God gave them everything that they needed to succeed. Now, let’s take a closer look at our parable.
There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower.
In our parable, the landowner represents God. The vineyard represents the Jewish nation. If you were going to have vineyard, you would protect your vineyard from wild animals by either building a wall around it or growing thorns around it. So, the hedge in our parable represents God providential care for His people.
The winepress shows anticipation for a fruitful harvest. The winepress was constructed so that the grapes would be put in to it and young men would typically stomp on them and the juice would run down to a smaller area to collect the juice. So, the winepress represents God expectation of His people to be fruitful.
The tower was another means of protection. The tower was usually around 10 feet tall and men would be hired during the harvest time to protect the vineyard from those who might try to come in and steal some of the produce whether animal or man. Again, this speaks of how God was protecting His people and giving them the best chance of being fruitful.
In our parable we read:
And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country.
It was typical for a landowner to rent out his vineyard to poorer farmers and let them take care of the vineyard, but the majority of the profit that came from the vineyard was to go to the landowner. Of course, vinedressers represent the Jewish leaders and how they were supposed to take care of the Jewish nation and lead them in such a way that they would produce fruit for the Lord. Next, we read:
34 "Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. 35 "And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 "Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. 37 "Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' 38 "But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.' 39 "So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.
When a landowner rented out his vineyard to other, it was his right to come at harvest time and received the majority of the benefit from the crop because it his vineyard. We see example of this being done in:
Song of Solomon 8:11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal Hamon; He leased the vineyard to keepers; Everyone was to bring for its fruit A thousand silver coins. (TO SOLOMON) 12 My own vineyard is before me. You, O Solomon, may have a thousand, And those who tend its fruit two hundred.
Notice the difference, Solomon was to receive 1000 coins and those taken care of his vineyard receive 200 coins, just as it should be. However, if the landowner did not make regular collection from his vineyard, it could cause him to lose his vineyard as Truth for Today commentary points out:
If he did not collect some of the produce within a specified time, he risked losing ownership of the vineyard; the tenants could make a legitimate claim to it. According to the Mishnah, one could establish his ownership of the vineyard if he could prove undisputed possession for three years or three harvest seasons. This process is referred to as hazakah. However, by collecting fruit from the tenants, a landowner removed any doubt about his possession.
Morris wrote, “In a new vineyard there would not be very much yield until the fourth year and no great profit until the fifth… The owner was establishing his position by collecting his rent, even if it was no more than a nominal amount, during the years that the vineyard was being established.” (Truth for Today Commentary, p. 233-234).
So, now we see the motivation behind these evil vinedressers. They were hoping they could just keep the vineyard for themselves. However, what we see in this parable is the patience of God. If God had wanted to, He could have destroyed the Jewish nation a long time ago. However, He was very merciful. He continued to send prophets to them, which is what these servants represent in our parable, but they ignored them and some cases killed them. Then as one final act of kindness, God sent His Son, which is Jesus.
Now the fact the parable makes a distinction between these servants/prophets, shows that Jesus was special. Of course, we all should know that Jesus was greater than any prophet. Now, these vinedressers/Jewish leaders should have recognized how special it was for them to see the Son of God. While they should have respected Him, but they did not. Instead, they cast Him out of the vineyard and killed Him.
You will notice they did not kill Him in the vineyard, but outside the vineyard. Some believe that this was done so that the vineyard would not become unclean, others believe this represents how Jesus was lead out of Jerusalem to be killed.
Certainly, we can see why the Jewish leaders perceived Jesus as threat. They thought if Jesus continued doing what He was doing that the people would start following Him instead of the Jewish leaders, and they thought if this happened, not only would they lose their power over the people, they thought the power their nation had under Roman rule would be lost as well, which made it necessary in their minds to kill the Son of God. Next Jesus says:
40 "Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?" 41 They said to Him, "He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons."
We see Jesus do this time after time. He gets these Jewish leaders to answer the question, which is the right answer, but the answer they give is about them, but they do not realize it until a few minutes later. As they were considering this parable, it was easy for them to see how wicked the vinedressers were and how they deserved to face the wrath of the landowner especially for killing his son, and that vineyard should be given to someone else.
That is exactly what happened. The Jews had Jesus killed by the Romans, which caused them face the wrath of God. While God did not destroy the temple and the surrounding area right away, Jesus did bring forth a new covenant that was for both Jew and Gentile. As we know, the Jews received their final punishment for their rejection of God, when God destroyed the temple and surrounding area in A.D. 70 by the hands of the Romans. So, taking care of the vineyard was given to new vinedressers who are supposed to do what the old vinedressers did not.
Next Jesus says this:
Matthew 21:42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes'? 43 "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 "And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder." 45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.
It does not take much to conclude that Jesus is the chief cornerstone, and He is the foundation of the church (Acts 4:8-12). Everything must be built upon Him (Eph. 2:20-22). Of course, the Lord is control of this all. Since these Jews would do exactly what the parable pointed out, Jesus makes it clear that the kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to a nation who would bear fruit, which is talking about the new spiritual nation made up of Christians.
Those who are willing to obey God’s plan of salvation and embrace all the Son has brought forth are those fall down on the stone and are broken, but they are restored by God. However, those who refuse to obey are going to have the stone fall on them and grind them into powder, which is referring to the judgment the disobedient will face.
These Jewish leaders finally begin to see that Jesus is talking about them, and they would have loved to have arrested Jesus and put Him death, but they did not touch Him at this time because they feared the people.
Now the third parable is called the parable of the wedding of the king’s son and it is only found in Matthew’s account in Matthew 22. So, let’s read the parable.
Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 "and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 "Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding." ' 5 "But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 "And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 "But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 'Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' 10 "So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 "So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 "For many are called, but few are chosen."
In our parable, the King represents God and the Son represents Jesus. The servants that He sent out represent the prophets like John the Baptist and the apostles and others. They went out to invite the Jews, but just like the people in the parable, the Jews rejected Jesus as being the Messiah over and over again. They would make excuses and even arrest these servants and kill them. Since these Jews would not accept the invitation from God, God sends the Romans to destroy Jerusalem as seen in verse 7.
Now there are a lot of people in the world today who are just like these rebellious Jews. They want to be religious in their own way but not according to God’s way. Some know exactly what the Bible teaches, yet they choose to follow after what their ancestors believe. Some don’t follow what God says because they never try to learn what His Word says. While having your temple and other structures destroyed along with the loss of physical life, this will not compare to what will happen to those continue to live their lives their way. As Paul points out in:
2 Thessalonians 1:7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
So, we need to make a choice to either live for God or for ourselves. Now let’s look at verses 8-10 again.
8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 'Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' 10 "So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Here we see a reference to the Gentiles being invited to the gospel call. The Jews had not understood that the Gentiles were going to be a part of God’s kingdom even though the prophets of old spoke of it in places like Amos 9:11-12. This is why Paul wrote the following to the Romans:
Romans 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: "For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name." 10 And again he says: "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!" 11 And again: "Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!" 12 And again, Isaiah says: "There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope."
Next, Jesus said:
Matthew 22:11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 "So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 "For many are called, but few are chosen."
This is talking about the judgment day. We see this one person who was not wearing the proper garment. He stood out like a sore thumb. We can all understand this because some social gatherings requiring certain garments. This garment represents those who have been clothed in Christ and have been faithful to the Lord. Notice what Paul tells us in Rom. 13:14.
Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Paul tells us how we put on Christ in:
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Romans 6:3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
So baptism is how we put on Christ and how we are put into Christ. Now, back in our parable we notice that this man who was not in the right attire could not offer any excuses to the king. All he could do was stand there speechless. This is same thing that going to happen to all those who stand before God. They will not be able to offer any excuses that God will listen to because He knows the heart of man, and He knows those who are his own. The disobedient will find themselves cast out from God and will be separated from Him for eternity.
Not only do we need to be clothed in Christ, we must leave the garment on and never take it off. We do this by remaining faithful to God and His Word until the day we die. Paul gives a great summary of this in Col. 3:5-14.
Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
So, we learn the following from this parable. If we reject the Son of God, it the same as rejecting the Father. As John wrote:
1 John 2:23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
We can learn from the destruction of Jerusalem that God will not tolerate disobedience forever.
So, we must be ready by being clothed in Christ in baptism and we must continue living faithful lives to God. We also learn that when the judgment day comes, there will be no excuse we can make to justify being disobedient to the Word of God.
Finally, we can learn that not many that are called are going to make it to heaven. As Jesus said:
14 "For many are called, but few are chosen."
While these parables had a strong message for the opposing Jews that day, they also have strong message for us as well. I just how we take the message to heart and learn from it.