Summary: Even wives and ladies can be ’husbandmen’ [vinedressers] in the field in which we are planted. But what do we think of the ’boss’ and how do we treat His Son? Link included to formatted text, audio, and PowerPoint Template.

The Wicked Husbandmen

Matthew 21:33-41

1. The vineyard immediately brings to mind Israel - cf. Isa 5:1-7

2. The landowner who planted the vineyard is God

3. The wicked vinedressers [husbandmen] represent Israel’s leaders - cf. Mt 21:45

4. The servants who were sent in behalf of the landowner represent the prophets

a. As a nation, Israel rejected many of her prophets

- cf. 2 Chr. 36:15-16

b. Note the cry of Jesus over Jerusalem later on - Mt 23:37

5. The landowner’s son is Jesus Christ Himself

I. Labor Expended. The householder himself had all the expense of the “planting, ” “hedging, ” “digging,” and “building” (v 33). Think of what God had done for Israel as a nation. He dug them out of Egypt, planted them in a good land, and hedged them about with promises and privileges, yet it proved an empty vine. God, as the Householder, wrought all this work-there were none to help Him. Think of the labor expended by our Lord Jesus Christ, that we might bring forth fruit to the praise of His Name. Oh, what praying, suffering, groaning, sweating, dying, He gave Himself.

II. Privilege Enjoyed. “He let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country” (v. 33). These husbandmen did not purchase the vineyard; through the grace of God it was lent out to them. Israel was honored, as being the tenant of divine wisdom and knowledge, but because of unfaithfulness they have been expelled. This privilege now belongs to all who are in Christ Jesus. While the Master is in the far country these priceless blessings are let out to us by the grace of God. We have not bought them ; we do not deserve them ; they are the gifts of God-the tokens of His infinite love.

III. Fruit Expected. “He sent his servants, that they might receive the fruits” (v. 34). Although the Master is in the far country (Heaven) He is still mindful of His vineyard. In asking the fruits He is only asking for what was His own. The vineyard is His. “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). The much labor of Christ for us should produce much fruit through us.

IV. Selfishness Exhibited. “The husbandmen took his servants, and beat, and killed, and stoned them” (v.35). There is here no sign of gratitude for the great privileges bestowed upon them; no concern about the Master’s interests.

The grace of God has been in vain to them. It is sad to find this same selfish spirit among those who profess to be the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are ready to take every earthly blessing and advantage God may give them, but they will yield Him nothing. They will even wear the Name of Christ for their own personal interests.

V. Forbearance Manifested. “He sent other servants…and last of all He sent His Son” (vv.36-37). What longsuffering, what patience with insult and cruelty, what willingness to forgive, what reluctance to punish! What a hideous contrast between the selfish greed of man and the loving kindness of God! “They will reverence My Son.” The appearance of His Son brought out the awful rebellion of the human heart against God. This is GRACE: Giving His best gift to the least deserving.

VI. Rebellion Declared. “When they saw the Son they said, This is the Heir; come, let us kill Him, and let us seize on His inheritance” (v. 38). “We will not have this Man to reign to reign over us.” “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). So Jesus, as the Son of Sovereign Grace, is cast out, and the Father, as the Householder, is blatantly defied. Yet the depth of the mystery is this, that through the death of the Son we may indeed seize on His inheritance. “Heirs of God.”

VII. Destruction Assured. “He will miserably destroy those wicked men” (v .41). Privilege may exalt to the gate of Heaven, but if neglected and abused will crush into the depths of hell. The 1880 years of wanderings of the Jews on the face of the earth without a king and without a country is a divine and solemn witness and warning that God will judge sin. When the Lord Himself appears to reckon with the husbandmen it will be a time of dreadful awakening to those who have been in the vineyard only for their own selfish means. Carefully note that the Householder asked for the fruits before He came. His coming was the time of judgment for His servants. “We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in His body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5. 10).

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