Matthew 21:33-46 (The Parable of the Wicked Tenants, Part 1)

To whom is Jesus primarily speaking in this parable?  Cf. the previous context of Mat 21:23-32, as well as Mat 21:45.  Recall that Jesus often taught in parables in order that the meaning might be hidden from those who did not have ears to hear, cf. Mat 13:9-15; was that the nature of this parable?  See Mat 21:45.  Why would this parable already be familiar to the religious leaders who were confronting Jesus so that its meaning would not have been particularly difficult for them to perceive?  Cf. Isa 5:1-2,7.  Who does the landowner represent in the parable?  What is the vineyard, and who are the vine-growers to whom it was rented out?  Cf. Isa 5:7.  What does the produce represent that the landowner expected to receive?  Cf. Gal 5:22-23, Eph 5:9, as well as Isa 51:4-5, 60:1-3, Mat 28:19-20, 1Co 4:15, Gal 4:19.  Would the religious leaders have had any problem understanding these points of the parable?  Cf. Mat 23:15

What efforts and expense did the landowner make to ensure that the vineyard would be successful and profitable to him?  See Mat 21:33; cf. Isa 5:1-2.  What do such efforts represent in regard to the Lord’s spiritual vineyard?  Was there anything more the landowner could have done, or anything he neglected to do that could reasonably have been perceived as a shortcoming on his part to justify the failure of his venture and the tenants’ refusal to pay him its proceeds?  See Isa 5:3-4.  Is there likewise any shortcoming on God’s part that would justify us not bearing spiritual fruit for His kingdom?  I.e., is there something lacking from His word or not provided by the direction and wisdom of His Holy Spirit that we can reasonably use to justify our continuance in sin and failure to repent and bear the fruit of righteousness?  See 2Pe 1:3.  If after every effort has been made and a vineyard or other planting is still unfruitful, what is the only thing left for a landowner to do?  See Mat 21:41,43; cf. Mat 7:19, Luk 13:6-9, Mat 21:19; see also Heb 2:1-3, 6:7-8, 10:26-31.

What was the “choice vine” God found and planted in the land of promise?  See Gen 12:1-2, 17:4-6.  What was it that made that vine so special?  See Heb 11:8-10, Jam 2:2.  Why is it important for us who would be a part of God’s vineyard to understand this?  See Gal 3:6-7, Heb 11:6.

What was the purpose of putting a wall or fence around the vineyard, and building a tower in it?  See Job 1:10 and cf. Sir 36:30 from the LXX[1].  What walls or fences did the Lord place around the nation of Israel to separate and protect it from the pagan practices of the surrounding nations that would have spoiled the fruit that the Lord was seeking from His vineyard?  Cf. Lev 11:43-47, Deut 28:9-10, Eph 2:11-12.  How was that wall of exclusion taken away in Christ so that the Gentiles might also be added to the Lord’s vineyard?  See Eph 2:13-15.  Is there a similar wall or hedge that God has commanded for the protection of the Church?  Cf. 2Co 6:16-7:1, 1Pe 1:14-16.  What does this help us to understand is the ultimate nature of the wall that forms a hedge about God’s people: is it a particular set of outward religious practices that sets us apart from the surrounding culture, or a spirit of holiness that separates us from the world because we have the nature and character of God, who is holy?  Why does a spirit of holiness alone[2] provide a complete protection for God’s people?  See Zec 2:4-5, and cf. Exo 19:5-6, Deut 7:6, 14:2, 26:16-19, 1Pe 2:9; see also Psa 3:3, 5:12, 18:2.

Consider that a walk of holiness is a wall of separation lest we be overrun by weeds or the fruitless spurs of a degenerate vine that would spoil the good fruit of that choice vine the Lord planted.  It is also a hedge of protection from the manifold dangers of the world that surrounds us, lest we be trampled by the wild beasts of the field or consumed by the enemies of our Lord.  What then does this teach us about how we are to understand God’s commands to us: as restrictions of our freedom, a restraint on our liberty—a rain on our parade?  Or should we understand them as the Lord’s gracious provision for our ultimate and most abundant blessing?  See 1Jo 5:3, Psa 19:7-11, 119:45,165, Pro 3:1-2,17, Mat 11:28-30, Joh 8:34-36; also recall that to be fruitful is the blessing of God, and to be unfruitful is His curse.



1. NRS Sirach 36:30 Where there is no fence, the property will be plundered.

2. I.e., being filled and led by the Holy Spirit of God.

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