Summary: As Jesus addresses the attacks of the religious leaders, He teaches us how to be good stewards, good citizens, and good students of the Word.
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At the end of the previous chapter Jesus has just had encounter with the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law who demanded to know His authority. Jesus would not tell them unless they expressed an opinion about John the Baptist’s authority - from God or man? They wouldn’t answer because they were either afraid of people’s opinions or unwilling to confront their own unbelief.
So now Jesus moves right into the very subject they were asking about - but He does in it a very interesting way.
Today we’re mostly going to see why the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were so wrong in pitting themselves against Jesus - and we start out by looking at a parable that Jesus told - asserting God’s ownership over not just the petty little kingdom these men had set up, but over the whole earth - then we move into two attacks these men level against Jesus - and, next week in the end of the chapter the amazing story of a teacher of the law that actually got what the Lord was about - followed by Jesus trying to get people beyond their comfort zone when thinking about who God is - and ending up with turning the tables on the ownership idea - that God, despite owning everything, is blessed when someone gives a tiny miniscule amount.
1 He then began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey.
Storytelling was a high art back then - and whenever someone told stories, especially Jesus, there would have been rapt attention. This agricultural picture would have been very common to them - and in fact, the production of wine is very common to us in the Yamhill area of Oregon, where some of the finest wines are grown and produced.
They did it very differently than we do today - in Jesus day a person would dig a shallow pit from a hard rocky surface - tilted barely downhill. Someone would come along and dump baskets of grapes into the pit and someone else would stomp on them. The juice would flow through little channels into little chambers. It reminds me of digging moats around sand castles and then connecting them and watching the waters flow from moat to moat.
The juice was then collected into clay pots with a mud cork - and a small hole to let carbon dioxide escape during fermentation.
A couple of points:
1. The "man" is the Father - it is His vineyard - but the religious leaders acted like they owned Israel.
2. God planted and dug - He set up a system for redemption - it is not man’s creation
3. God hired farmers - those given the gospel (or the covenant) were expected to carry out tasks for the farmer’s good.
4. And He expected fruit from these endeavors. God expected His name to be spread abroad and for people to be encouraged to come to Him.
5. The workers would have very little supervision, but very great expectations.
2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.
Notice he didn’t say "all" the fruit - God is fair, and does reward His servants.
3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed.
I don’t know about you, but if those were my employees they’d have gotten the boot right away.
4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
If you haven’t guessed by now - Jesus is referring probably to the prophets, who came one after another, telling Israel to get right with God - many of them were beaten or killed.
6 "He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ’They will respect my son.’
So this, of course, is Jesus.
7 "But the tenants said to one another, ’This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
9 "What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this scripture:
"’The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; 11 the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?"