Monday, July 28, 2014
The Rulers Warned
“Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.” (Matthew 21:33-36)
In the previous parable, Jesus had made the point that the one who obeyed his father wasn’t the one who initially said he would but the one who initially refused but later changed his mind and went. Here he shares another parable to make the leaders think about what they are doing.
A man developed an orchard and leased it out to a group of men for a share in the profits. When harvest came he sent his servants to collect his share of the profits. Instead of paying the rent, the renters beat up his employees, killing one and seriously injuring another. When he sent a second and larger group, they did the same thing to them.
“But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.” (Matthew 21:37-39)
Finally he sent his son with full authority to do whatever was required, believing that the leaseholders would choose to negotiate with him to avoid losing their lease. Instead, the leaseholders decided that if they killed the son. The father would decide ti wasn’t worth the trouble and let them just keep the land.
“When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” (Matthew 21:40-41)
Jesus then asked what the leaders thought the father would do about the renters’ actions. They concluded that the murder would firm his resolve, and he would execute the murderers of his son and lease the orchard out to someone who would pay their rent on time.
“Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” (Matthew 21:42-44)
Jesus then reminded them of the prophecy in Psalm 118:22-23. “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” God had given Israel the use of the land in exchange for their obedience to him. Instead they had focused on doing as they pleased, struggling to maintain their control over the nation while re-interpreting God’s law to make it easier to do business in a gentile controlled world. Like the leaseholders in the parable, they had killed several of God’s prophets for reminding them of their duty to God.
To refuse to obey the one God sent would result in termination of their claims to the kingdom of heaven, just as refusing to pay the owners son would have resulted in termination of the husbandmen’s lease. If they killed God’s messenger, God’s son. He would react exactly as they expected the father in the parable to react, totally destroying them. It was a clear warning as to the consequences of what they were about to do.
“And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.” (Matthew 21:45-46)
The chief priests and Pharisees understood what the parable meant, and wanted to kill him for putting them down, but because so many people believed he was a prophet from God, they were afraid to take action right them. They needed something believable to accuse him of and began deliberately looking for something, sending people to try to trip him up and offering a reward for anyone who could present evidence that might destroy his credibility.