Landowner with Wicked Tenants (or Vinedressers)

Matthew 21:33-46
“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a wall around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went abroad.

When harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenant farmers to collect his produce. But the farmers took his servants and beat one, killed another, and attacked another with stones. Again, he sent other servants to them, a greater number than the first, but the tenant farmers treated them the same way.

Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenant farmers saw his son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come on, let’s kill him and get his inheritance!’ So they grabbed him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

Now when the owner of the vineyard returns, what will he do to those farmers?” They said to him, “He will put those horrible men to a horrible death. Then he will lease the vineyard to other farmers who will give him his produce at harvest time.”

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?

That is why I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce fruit for it. The person who falls over this stone will be broken to pieces, but it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” When the high priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was talking about them. Although they wanted to arrest him, they were afraid of the crowds, for they considered him a prophet.

Mark 12:1-11
Then Jesus began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went abroad.

At the right time he sent a servant to the farmers to collect from them a share of the produce from the vineyard. But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him, and sent him back empty-handed.

Again, the man sent another servant to them. They beat the servant over the head and treated him shamefully. Then the man sent another, and that one they killed.

So it was with many other servants. Some of these they beat, and others they killed. He still had one more person to send, a son whom he loved.

Finally, he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those farmers said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come on, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’ So they grabbed him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.

“Now what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the farmers and give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you ever read this Scripture: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?” They were trying to arrest him but were afraid of the crowd. Realizing that he had spoken this parable against them, they left him alone and went away.

Luke 20:9-19
Then he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and went abroad for a long time. At the right time he sent a servant to the farmers in order that they might give him his share of the produce of the vineyard.

But the farmers beat him and sent him back empty-handed. He sent another servant, and they beat him, too, treated him shamefully, and sent him back empty-handed. Then he sent a third, and they wounded him and threw him out, too.

“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I’ll send my son whom I love. Maybe they’ll respect him.’ But when the farmers saw him, they talked it over among themselves and said, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him so that the inheritance will be ours!’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

Now what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those farmers and give the vineyard to others.”

Those who heard him said, “That must never happen!” But Jesus looked at them and said, “What does this text mean: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

When the scribes and the high priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay their hands on him at that very hour, but they were afraid of the crowd.

Earthy Word = Spiritual Word
landowner = God
vineyard = His kingdom
tenant farmers = specifically Israel’s religious leaders and all who reject Him
servants = God’s prophets and faithful believers
son = Jesus Christ
stone = Jesus Christ
Possible Points of Jesus
  1. THE MEANING OF THE PARABLE
    1. THE VARIOUS ITEMS OF THE PARABLE ARE EVIDENT…
      1. The vineyard immediately brings to mind Israel
        1. The figure of a vineyard referring to Israel was well-known – cf. Isa 5:1-7
        2. But here it is not Israel as a nation per se…
          1. Rather, “the special advantages and opportunities which were given to the people as the chosen seed” (W.M. Taylor, The Parables of Our Saviour)
          2. For later Jesus explains the vineyard (or kingdom of God) “will be given to a nation producing its fruit” – cf. Mt 21:43
      2. The landowner who planted the vineyard is God
      3. The wicked vinedressers represents Israel’s leaders – cf. Mt 21:45
        1. Their chief priests, scribes, elders, and all their followers
        2. Therefore, the physical nation of Israel as a whole
      4. The servants who were sent in behalf of the landowner represents the prophets
        1. As a nation, Israel rejected many of her prophets – cf. 2Ch 36:15-16
        2. Note the plaintive cry of Jesus over Jerusalem later on – Mt 23:37
      5. The landowner’s son is Jesus Christ Himself
    2. THE SUCCEEDING QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS REVEAL JESUS’ INTENT…
      1. Which was to help them see why God would be just
        1. In bringing condemnation upon Israel
        2. In giving the blessings of Israel to those more deserving – cf. Mt 21:43
      2. Indeed, their rejection of Jesus had been foretold in the Scriptures – Mt 21:42; cf. Ps 118:22,23
        1. The “builders” were the religious leaders of the nation
        2. The “stone” which they rejected was Christ
        3. Yet, this stone would be made a “chief cornerstone” by God Himself
          1. In which God would build a something “new “
          2. I.e., the church in which both Jew and Gentile were fellow citizens of the household of God- cf. Ep 2:19-20
      3. In elaborating on “the stone which the builders rejected”, Jesus reveals the terrible consequence for those who reject it – Mt 21:44
        1. Another way of saying it is anyone who opposes Christ is destined to fall, even be “pulverized”
        2. The same was said of those who would not trust in the Lord in Isaiah’s day – cf. Isa 8:13-15
  2. AN APPLICATION OF THE PARABLE
    1. FIRST, NOTE THAT GOD OFTEN BESTOWS WONDERFUL PRIVILEGES…
      1. This He had done with the nation of Israel
        1. Like a precious vineyard, God planted Israel in Canaan
        2. He blessed the nation with laws, priests, prophets, and other special privileges
        3. He eventually sent His only begotten Son as their Messiah
      2. How about us today?
        1. Have we not received wonderful privileges from God?
        2. We enjoy free access to the Word of God, and the freedom to worship without fear of persecution; many in the world do not
        3. We are blessed to hear things that prophets, kings, and saints of old desired to hear and were not able – cf. Mt 13:16-17
    2. SECOND, NOTE HOW PEOPLE OFTEN MAKE BAD USE OF THEIR PRIVILEGES…
      1. The history of Israel as a nation established by God
        1. They consistently murmured against God in the wilderness
        2. They turned away from God time and again during the period of the Judges
        3. They persecuted His prophets, and eventually rejected His own Son
      2. What about us today?
        1. We have blessings given to us through Christ
          1. The forgiveness of sins through His blood
          2. The aid of the Holy Spirit in putting to death the deeds of the body
          3. The joy of fellowship in the family of God
          4. The privilege of sharing the gospel with a dying world
        2. And yet Christians often turn their back on such blessings
          1. They sin, and do not seek forgiveness
          2. They do not seek the help God gives to deal with the problem of sin
          3. They neglect their brethren by forsaking the assembling, and by not developing close relationships with them
          4. They make little or no effort to spread the precious gospel of Christ
    3. THIRD, NOTE THE AWFUL JUDGMENT THAT COMES UPON THOSE WHO MAKE BAD USE OF THEIR PRIVILEGES…
      1. Again, the nation of Israel is an example
        1. They suffered forty years of wandering in the wilderness
        2. God allowed neighboring nations to be a thorn in their side
        3. They endured Assyrian and Babylonian captivity
        4. God destroyed their temple and their religion by the Babylonians (586 B.C.) and the Romans (70 A.D.)
        5. He has indeed taken away the kingdom of God from them, and given it to a nation bearing the fruits of it – Mt 21:43
      2. Would God bring such judgments against His church or people today if they abuse their privileges?
        1. Consider the words of Jesus – Jn 15:1-2,6; Re 2:4-5, 16; 3:1-3
        2. Consider what was written to the Hebrew Christians – He 10:26-31
      3. Clearly, if we do not utilize our special privileges…
        1. God will take away the blessings we have (i.e., the kingdom of God)
        2. And give it to someone who appreciates it (i.e. bears the fruit of it)
  3. CONCLUSION
    1. Truly God has given us wonderful blessings…
      1. He made us worthy to be “partakers of the inheritance of the saints” – Col 1:12
      2. He “has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” – Col 1:13
      3. In Christ we have “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” – Col 1:14
      4. He sent us apostles and prophets of His Son, whose words are in the New Testament
    2. Let us be careful how we receive them (cf. Jn 13:20), for the next time the Beloved Son is sent, He is coming in terrifying judgment! – 2Th 1:7-10

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