So many close their eyes and hearts to the savior. It’s nothing new. This parable from Jesus tells of those who ultimately rejected Him in a prediction of His own death. Learn more about this powerful parable.

ROBERT >> Thank you so much for joining us today here on The Truth In Love. Our God is such a gracious God, a loving God who has made every effort to make a way for us to be forgiven of our sins and to join him for all of eternity in the heavenly realm; and yet there are many who are so determined to persist in their wickedness, who have closed their eyes and their ears and their hearts to the savior. Stay tuned. We’ll be back in just a moment.

SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth,
speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> Today we want to discuss the parable of the wicked vinedressers, which ought to convict the hearts of every one of us. This parable of Jesus is actually recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. We’re going to read from Matthew’s account in just a moment. But I want to remind you that Jesus had gone to Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world. When he entered that city, he was met with hosannas, they proclaimed him as the Messiah, and now it’s Tuesday before his death, and he’s teaching in the temple when he gives this parable.

Let’s read it together from 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. Now when vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, They will represent my son. When the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance. So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers? They said to Him, He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyards to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”

Picture this, if you can today, how this man, this landowner planted a vineyard. As there were many vineyards in Judea in those days, the land would be made ready, the large stones would be taken out, the ground would be plowed, and the vines would be planted. He would set a hedge around it, maybe of thorns, perhaps a stone wall to keep out the animals and thieves who might break in. And then he would dig a vat, a winepress there in the vineyard. The ordinary press in those days was made of two pits dug out of rocky ground. There would be one pit connected by some kind of channel down to the other pit, one higher than the other, so when they pressed by foot the juice out of the grapes, it would flow down the channel into the lower pit. And there in the vineyard he would build a tower. The tower would be built probably of stone, and it would be used to lodge the workers of the vineyard and especially for a lookout against possible robbers during the harvest time. And so the landowner, having built this vineyard, would lease it out to vinedressers, and he would go off into a far country for a long time.

This was not unusual in the days of Palestine, a very troubled country. A man might leave his property in the care of others and go live somewhere else. But then I want you to notice here in verse 34, “Now when vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit.”

You see, he sent these servants back at harvest time to get some fruit from the vineyard. Rent from land in those days was often derived in different ways. The tenant might give maybe some money to the owner, or he might pay a certain amount of the produce, whether the harvest was good or bad. He might agree to share in a certain portion of the fruit, usually about a third or a fourth of the harvest. But in the parable, when the landowner sent the servants to receive this rent, what did the vinedressers do to his servants? Well, they beat one. They sent him away empty handed. They killed one, they stoned another. When you look at all the accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you get all the details of this. But it was not uncommon for land renters to abuse those absentee landlords when they weren’t around.

What did the landowner do when these servants were mistreated?

He sent some more servants, even more servants than he sent before. What happened to them?

Again, the same thing they had done to the others that had been said before. At least one was stoned, one was wounded in the head and sent away, some were beaten, some were killed.

What did the landowner do last of all?

Notice what it says here in verse 37. “And last of all, he sent his son to them, saying, They will respect my son.”

But that was not the case. Instead, the vinedressers were plotting to kill the son so they could seize his inheritance. They took him, they cast him out of the vineyard, and they killed him. What question did Jesus then ask the audience that was listening to him that day?

Look at it with me here in verse 40. “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?”

And look at their reply in verse 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.”

And you don’t see it here in Matthew, but in Luke’s account he adds this response: Certainly not!

What does Jesus mean by this parable? The details of the story, what historical situation are they describing? Who does this apply to?

Well, let’s notice that he’s really referring to the historical situation of the Jewish nation in his day. And you see the landowner here very obviously is representing God, but the vineyard speaks of the Jewish nation. You see, God brought them out of Egypt, out of their slavery hundreds of years ago. He planted them in a good land, the promised land of Canaan, and he made them his people and he gave them his law, and he blessed them in so many wonderful and special ways. So God is that landowner, and that vineyard must refer to God’s people, Israel.

But who is represented by the vinedressers left in charge of that vineyard?

This would be the priests, this would be the elders of the people who abused their responsibility over God’s people.

Who was represented by the servants sent back again and again?

Those would refer to the Old Testament prophets, those prophets that were persecuted because they spoke against the evil of the leaders among God’s people. They constantly pleaded for the people to repent. According to Jewish tradition, Jeremiah, the great prophet, was stoned by exiles in Egypt. Isaiah, another great prophet, sawn asunder by King Manasseh. In the Old Testament passage of 2 Chronicles 24:21, we read where Zechariah was stoned. And in that same book in chapter 36 and verse 16, the persecution of the prophets during the days of Zedekiah. And let me read to you from Acts 7:52, when Stephen was preaching to the Jews of his day, the rulers of God’s people.

In Acts 7:52, he asked this question:” Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?”

And if I could, look at Hebrews chapter 11. At the end of this great faith chapter we read about the persecution that so many did towards God’s faithful servants.

In Hebrews 11 beginning verse 32, “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jepthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens in caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.”

Yes, just as those vinedressers persecuted the servants sent by the landowner to the vineyard, so Israel and the other nations often persecuted God’s prophets who warned them of their unfaithfulness and pleaded with them to turn back to God. But most importantly in this parable, who is represented by the son that was cast out of the vineyard and killed?

And of course we know now that’s Jesus Christ, our Lord and our savior, who was crucified at Calvary because they rejected him as their savior and as their Lord.

You’ll notice here at the end of the parable where Jesus asked the question, What will he do to those vinedressers?

And I want to read again their answer to that question in verse 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.”

Yes, they recognized that those wicked vinedressers who killed the servants, who killed the son deserved destruction, they deserved to be destroyed; but they did not recognize that they themselves, because they had not been faithful over the vineyard God had given them, the Israelite nation, and because they would reject his son, Jesus Christ, also deserved to be destroyed.

Jesus had prophesied concerning the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem, how the Romans would besiege the city and kill over a million Jews, this great judgment of God that would take place in 70 AD. Jesus had spoken of it in Matthew 24, in Mark 13, and in Luke 21. They would be judged because of their unfaithfulness and their rejection of Jesus Christ. But I want to ask this: Who’s represented by the other vinedressers to whom the landowner would lease his vineyard after those wicked vinedressers were destroyed?

Well, this refers to the church, the church of Christ made of many people from all nations that you read about here in your Bibles. The Jewish nation would not be restored to God’s favor, not as a nation; but God chose a new spiritual nation, the church, to be his people.

Let me read with you 1 Peter 2:9-10, where Peter shows that that physical nation of Israel in the Old Testament was just pointing to the greater spiritual nation of Christ, his church.

1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people, but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

This is the spiritual Israel of God we read about in Galatians 6:16, in Romans 9:6-8. These were not of the physical seed of Abraham, but they had the faith of Abraham. And believing on Jesus Christ and responding in obedience to his gospel, they became a part of Christ’s kingdom, his church. And thus, the parable here, the parable of the wicked vinedressers, is really a commentary on God’s gracious dealings with his people: His constant pleadings for them to repent, their determination to persist in wickedness, their willingness even to kill Jesus, and their final and irrevocable rejection by God. Jesus asked what the owner of the vineyard would do to his rebellious servants, and the Jews gave a ready response in which they unwittingly pronounced judgment against themselves. But I want us to look a little closer here at some of the verses that follow this.

Notice verse 42 of Matthew 21. “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. This is a quotation from Psalm 118:22-23. And you might also compare it with Isaiah 28:16. But who is meant by the stone that the builders rejected in this passage that Jesus quoted? Well, that stone we know now is Jesus Christ.

We know that because Peter interpreted it for us.

In 1 Peter chapter 2, let me read to you verses 4 through 8. Here he writes, Coming to Him, that is, Jesus Christ, as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame. Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone, and, A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”

They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. Not only does Peter show Jesus Christ as that stone that was rejected, but you can read Acts 4:11, Ephesians 2:20, and you’ll see that same understanding. Jesus Christ is that foundation stone upon which he built his church. Faith in him as the Christ, the Son of God, obedience to his gospel is absolutely necessary to be a part of this new great spiritual nation, the church; otherwise, we, too, are destined for destruction.

So what was Jesus’ explanation of the parable?

Look again back in Matthew chapter 21, and notice what he says in verse 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. The kingdom of God would be taken from the Jews and given to another nation bearing those fruits.

And what is that other nation?

As we learned before, this refers to the church.

What did Jesus say would happen to those who fall on the stone in the scripture that he just read?

Look at it again in verse 44. “And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder. Yes, they would be broken.”

This mean means that there are some that would fall upon Jesus Christ, humbled by Christ to recognize their sinfulness, to come to him in faith for salvation, like those we read about in 1 Peter 2:6 who come to faith, who believe in that one, never to be put to shame. And what did Jesus say would happen to those upon whom the stone fell?

They would be ground to powder. All of this refers to the condemnation of those who are disobedient, rejecting Christ as Lord and as savior. But who here in Matthew 21 came to realize that Jesus was speaking of them?

Look with me here in verse 45 of Matthew 21. ‘Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. The chief priests, the Pharisees, these leaders of Israel had been indicted by Jesus Christ and knew that they had fallen under the condemnation of God himself.”

What did they do about it?

Instead of repenting, instead of turning, look what the verse says in verse 46. “But when they sought to lay hands on Him, on Christ, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet. If it were up to the chief priests and Pharisees, they would have taken him then to destroy him, because they refused to accept his message. They were going to take it out on the messenger, except they feared the multitude more. They were afraid of losing their popularity and the following by the people. They were more concerned about that than what was right and what was good and what God had done for them through Jesus Christ, and they sought to get rid of him altogether. Surely this message of the parable of the wicked vinedressers is one that convicts our hearts and helps us to re-examine our lives to see if we are right with God, to see if we’re really being honest about the truth concerning Jesus Christ and his gospel. If you’ll believe on him today, turning from your sins and confessing your faith in him, you can become a Christian by giving yourself to him in the waters of baptism. As the Bible says, Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. I hope you’ll do that today, that you’ll let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven.

SINGING>> On Zion’s glorious summit stood
a numerous host redeemed by blood.
They hymned their king in strains divine.
I heard the song and strove to join.
I heard the song and strove to join.
While everlasting ages roll,
eternal love shall feast their soul,
and scenes of bliss forever new rise in succession to their view,
rise in succession to view.
Holy,
holy, holy Lord.
God of hosts on high adored.
Who like me thy praise should sing,
oh Almighty king?
Holy, holy,
holy Lord.
God of hosts on high adored.
Holy, holy, holy.

SINGING>> In heavenly armor we’ll enter the land.
The battle belongs to the Lord.
No weapon that’s fashioned against us will stand.
The battle belongs to the Lord.
And we sing glory, honor,
power and strength to the Lord.
We sing glory, honor, power
and strength to the Lord.
When the power of darkness comes in like a flood,
the battle belongs to the Lord.
He’s raised up a standard,
the power of his blood.
The battle belongs to the Lord.
And we sing glory, honor,
power and strength to the Lord.
We sing glory, honor,
power and strength to the Lord.
When your enemy presses in hard, do not fear.
The battle belongs to the Lord.
Take courage,
my friend, your redemption is near.
The battle belongs to the Lord.
And we sing glory, honor,
power and strength to the Lord.
We sing glory, honor,
power and strength to the Lord.
We sing glory, honor,
power and strength to the Lord.
We sing glory, honor,
power and strength to the Lord.

ROBERT >> Thank you so much for watching our program today. I’d love to hear from you. Let me encourage you to contact us if you have any questions, comments, or requests.

You can write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053 or e-mail us at requests@ttil.tv.

Call our toll-free number, 800-819-2966 or visit our web site at www.ttil.tv.

And remember, all our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.

SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven,
sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me
it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam. Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall, sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.

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