Summary: 1) The work (Matthew 21:33) 2) The Wickedness (Matthew 21:34–39) 3) The wrath (Matthew 21:40–41) 4)The witness (Matthew 21:42) and finally 5) The withdrawal (Matthew 21:43–46).
This week, a suicide attacker who appears to have concealed his explosives inside a turban killed a senior cleric and at least three other people on Thursday at a funeral service for the assassinated brother of the Afghan president in southern Kandahar city. The attack came just two days after a trusted family associate killed Ahmad Wali Karzai, probably the most powerful and controversial man in southern Afghanistan, at his home. Rejecting the Karzai regime and in an attemt to eliminate family members of the Karzai family, the Taliban wish to seize control of power in Afganistan (http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/07/14/suicide-bomber-kills-four-at-karzai-funeral/).
The Chief Priest and Elders of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day attempted to elimate Christ, who threatened their power and control over the Jewish people In Matthew 21, Jesus continued to respond to hostile retaliation by the hypocritical, threatened chief priests and elders, who had demanded that He tell them by what authority He carried on His ministry, and especially by what authority He had driven the merchants and moneychangers out of the Temple. After they had refused to say whether John the Baptist’s ministry was from God or men, Jesus indicted them by means of the parable of the two sons and explained it by declaring that tax-gathers and harlots would enter the kingdom before those religionists.
What is spoken in this parable is spoken to caution all that enjoy the privileges of the outward church. As we treat God’s people, we treat Christ himself, if he were with them... Let us ask ourselves, whether we who have the vineyard and all its advantages, render fruits in due season... Our Saviour, in his question, declares that the Lord of the vineyard will come, and when he comes he will surely destroy the wicked (Henry, M., & Scott, T. (1997). Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary (Mt 21:33). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.).
In Matthew 21:33-46 Jesus directly confronts the Chief Priest and Elders of Jerusalem with another parable, the second in a trilogy of judgment parables (22:1–14), which even more graphically illustrated their willful rejection of God. There is affirmation on Jesus’ part that His position is superior to that of the prophets; (2) there is consciousness of a unique relation of sonship; (3) there is the conviction that He was sent from God as the final envoy; (4) there is recognition that rejection and death await Him, and this rejection clearly involves the judgment of Israel. This section is uniquely expressive of the mission of the Messiah as Suffering Servant (Augsburger, M. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Vol. 24: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 24 : Matthew. The Preacher’s Commentary series (18). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.).
Jesus presents this message by showing 1) The work (Matthew 21:33) 2) The Wickedness (Matthew 21:34–39) 3) The wrath (Matthew 21:40–41) 4)The witness (Matthew 21:42) and finally 5) The withdrawal (Matthew 21:43–46).
1) The work (Matthew 21:33)
Matthew 21:33 "Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country (ESV).
Here we see a landowner who spends considerable time and labor developing a vineyard and then leases it to some tenants. The story of an absentee landowner reflects a familiar economic situation at the time; some of the chief priests and elders to whom Jesus is speaking would probably have owned land away from Jerusalem. The landowner must be a wealthy man, because a newly planted vineyard could not be expected to produce fruit for at least four years, during which he would have no return on his capital outlay (France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (808–809). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.).
As always in parabolic teaching, Jesus told a simple and understandable story, often including a shocking element, to explain a profound truth that was unknown or generally misunderstood. This situation involved in the parable of the master/landowner of a house who planted a vineyard which was commonplace in that agrarian society and was easy for His hearers to identify with. A vineyard was regarded as the most valuable plantation, which yielded the largest harvest, but required also the most constant labor and care (Lange, J. P., & Schaff, P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures : Matthew (387). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)
In New Testament times, the hillsides of Palestine were covered with grape vineyards, which were a mainstay of the economy. It was not unusual for a wealthy man to buy a piece of land and develop it for a vineyard. He would first put a fence/wall of stone or a hedge of briars around it to protect it from wild animals and thieves. He would then make a winepress, sometimes having to cut it out of bedrock. The grapes are put into this trough, and two or more persons, with naked feet and legs, get into it, where they jump up and down, crushing the fruit.… The juice flows into the lower part of the excavation (Lange, J. P., & Schaff, P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures : Matthew (387). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.).