Summary: Is Jesus the stone over whcih you stumble or the foundation of your life?

Mt 21:33-46

The Story of the Greedy Farmhands

33-34"Here’s another story. Listen closely. There was once a man, a wealthy farmer, who planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, put up a watchtower, then turned it over to the farmhands and went off on a trip. When it was time to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants back to collect his profits.

35-37"The farmhands grabbed the first se

rvant and beat him up. The next one they murdered. They threw stones at the third but he got away. The owner tried again, sending more servants. They got the same treatment. The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. ’Surely,’ he thought, ’they will respect my son.’

38-39"But when the farmhands saw the son arrive, they rubbed their hands in greed. ’This is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all for ourselves.’ They grabbed him, threw him out, and killed him.

40"Now, when the owner of the vineyard arrives home from his trip, what do you think he will do to the farmhands?"

41"He’ll kill them—a rotten bunch, and good riddance," they answered. "Then he’ll assign the vineyard to farmhands who will hand over the profits when it’s time."

42-44Jesus said, "Right—and you can read it for yourselves in your Bibles:

The stone the masons threw out

is now the cornerstone.

This is God’s work;

we rub our eyes, we can hardly believe it!

"This is the way it is with you. God’s kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life. Whoever stumbles on this Stone gets shattered; whoever the Stone falls on gets smashed."

45-46When the religious leaders heard this story, they knew it was aimed at them. They wanted to arrest Jesus and put him in jail, but, intimidated by public opinion, they held back. Most people held him to be a prophet of God.


The Greedy Tenants 05-10-09 FB and HB

One of the problems we encounter when we look at the Scriptures lies in the fact that it was written almost 2000 years and as a result we don’t see the implications that were obvious to the original audience.

If I asked you the question; “Do you think it is good for children under age to drink” – you wouldn’t think I am talking about water.

The keys to understanding

And so in the same way, when Jesus told his parable about the vineyard – everyone would have clearly understood what the vineyard referred to.

Because to any first Century Jew – the term “Vineyard” was used to signify Israel.

Very much like the “leek” represent the country of Wales

Let me simply read to you Isaiah 5:1-7

The Song of the Vineyard

1 I will sing for the one I love

a song about his vineyard:

My loved one had a vineyard

on a fertile hillside.

2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones

and planted it with the choicest vines.

He built a watchtower in it

and cut out a winepress as well.

Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,

but it yielded only bad fruit.

3 "Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah,

judge between me and my vineyard.

4 What more could have been done for my vineyard

than I have done for it?

When I looked for good grapes,

why did it yield only bad?

5 Now I will tell you

what I am going to do to my vineyard:

I will take away its hedge,

and it will be destroyed;

I will break down its wall,

and it will be trampled.

6 I will make it a wasteland,

neither pruned nor cultivated,

and briers and thorns will grow there.

I will command the clouds

not to rain on it."

7 The vineyard of the LORD Almighty

is the house of Israel,

and the men of Judah

are the garden of his delight.

And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;

for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

Once you have that identifier – that the Vineyard is ISRAEL the rest drops

out very simply.


1. The Landowner

If the vineyard is Israel (see Isa 5:1-7) then the landowner who planted the vineyard is clearly God.

The Jews were very proud of the fact that they and they alone were “God’s chosen people”

2. The Greedy Tenants (or the greedy farmhands as Eugene Peterson in the Message refers to them as)

It doesn’t then take much imagination to see that they wicked tenants represent Israel’s leaders - cf. Mt 21:45

3. The servants

And again it doesn’t take much imagination to see that the servants sent by the landowner (or the wealthy farmer) – God represent the prophets (2 Chr. 36:15-16 and Mt 23:37)

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