Summary: Message urging our church to be one where we are bringing in the "fruit of the vineyard" - working for the Kingdom instead of ourselves.
Bring in the Fruit!
August 10, 2008
We continue our walk through the gospel according to Matthew, and even though it’s only Tuesday, Jesus finds Himself in the thick of some controversy.
The religious leaders are really coming after Him – challenging His words, challenging His authority, challenging His claims to be the Messiah.
Jesus knows that in just a few days He would give His life for the sins of the world by being brutally nailed to a cross.
But here He is, debating the religious leaders, healing people, and teaching people about the Kingdom of God that He has come to bring.
I don’t know about you, but if I know that I’ve got a hard few days coming up, I tend to want to hide for a while and get psyched up for what I’ll be facing.
Not Jesus – He’s fully engaged, giving of Himself right up to the very end. Not hiding, not getting psyched up, not getting rested, not laying low.
In this passage we’re looking at today, Jesus is talking to the religious leaders who have decided to kind of gang up on Him.
They had tried to paint Him into a corner, but Jesus was too smart to allow that. And then Jesus turned the tables on them by challenging them and questioning them.
Jesus continues in that vein as He tells them a parable that does nothing but get them even more angry at Him.
And in this parable, we can find something for us as a church to apply as well.
God: Matthew 21:33-46 (p. 698-699) –
33 "Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 "The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ’They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 "But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ’This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 "Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?"
41 "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time."
42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "’The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 "Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
One thing about Jesus that could never be said about politicians and preachers is that He never wasted His breath just talking.
Everything He said had a purpose, and even His stories – the parables, were tools He used to get His points across.
Sometimes the points were rather obvious, sometimes they were obscure to the listeners, but they always had a point.
This parable is one where the point became pretty obvious, especially to the religious leaders, since it was about them.
In this parable, the landowner is God, the vineyard is Israel, the tenants are primarily the leaders of the nation of Israel, although it could also include all the Jews who had rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
The servants are the prophets, all the way up through John the Baptist.
The son here is obviously Jesus the Messiah.
But who are the other tenants that will be brought in to work the vineyard? The Gentiles. The non-Jews.
Jesus says in verse 43 –
"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
And not only would the vineyard be taken away from the Jewish leaders and their nation, they would suffer judgment, illustrated here in the crushing by the capstone in verse 44.