Vineyard — Matthew 21:33–46

The King’s judgements

Following Jesus clearing the temple of market traders, Jesus was asked by the Temple authorities where he got his authority. The answer seems to be evasive until you realise that the three parables that follow form the bigger part of the answer. The first was covered in the last post, the gist was that the chief priests and elders had rejected God the Father, and the second one, the one I am looking at now, is that they have rejected God the Son.

33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence round it and dug a wine press 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[c] 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 at 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, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;[d]
this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is marvellous in our eyes’?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”[e]

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.

Matthew 21:33-46 ESVUK

They rejected God the Son

The second parable runs on from the first, we are still in the vineyard. The first was about a son who said he would work in the vineyard but did not, thereby rejecting his father. In the second the place of the son is taken by recalcitrant tenants who wanted to keep the owners harvest for themselves.

The vineyard still stands for the people, the ordinary Jewish people, and they are bearing fruit, fruit which belongs to the owner but the tenants are not giving the owner the full value of his crops.

Jesus prophesies his own death at the hand of the Jewish and Roman authorities, but he is placing the blame firmly on the spiritual authorities, the people who were leading the people for their own good, not for the good of the people and not giving the honour back to God. So they disobeyed first God’s prophets and then God’s own Son. The punishment of the removal of their power and the destruction of the Jerusalem temple would come in 40 years.

But Jesus has not finished yet. We are supposed to read this whole narrative section as a whole, not a bit at a time. Jesus had recently come into Jerusalem on a donkey with the crowds singing from Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Jesus quotes from the same psalm, the significance of which would not be lost on the chief priests.

“The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;[d]
this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is marvellous in our eyes’?

Matthew 22: 42 and Psalm 118:22-23

It is easy for us, with hindsight, to recognise the rejection of Jesus the Son of God in this passage, but quoting this passage would make it clear to the chief priests that they were the tenants in this parable, the ones who did not give back to God what he was owed.

Writing this has made me reflect on whether I am keeping anything back from God, and the answer is yes, I am. I need to repent, not just say I am sorry but to change my ways, God, in his mercy does not give his repentant people what they deserve and in his grace gives them what they do not deserve.

Please read through the passage again, slowly. and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you anything that relates to you.


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