Would the religious leaders have understood the landowner’s slaves in the parable to have been God’s prophets, or quibbled with Jesus that God had sent prophets to the Jewish nation which abused and mistreated them? Cf. Mat 23:29-30. Did they disagree with the just consequences and end of the vine-growers in the parable? See Mat 21:41 and note who is talking. What is it that leads one to see the faults in others but cannot see the same faults in themselves, or that quickly assents to the judgment that will befall others for their sins but supposes the same will not befall them for theirs? See Rom 12:3, 2Co 4:4, 2Th 2:9-12; cf. Mat 7:3-5. What does this help us to understand about the subtle nature of religious deception? Does a deceived person know that he is deceived? Is it conceivable that we could be deceived in a similar way, supposing that we are serving God even while we shut our ears to His true messengers because their words are contrary to the lusts of our flesh and like the Israelites we love our sins more than we love God? Is it possible that the judgment that we expect to overtake others for their sins could also overtake us for ours because like the religious leaders who confronted Jesus we are not truly repentant in our hearts and all our religion is but a form of godliness, a whitewashed wall, and not a true hedge of protection from God’s wrath? What is the only safe protection against being given over to such deception to believe a lie that will ultimately condemn us? See again Rom 12:3 and cf. 1Pe 5:6-8; see also Luk 8:15, 1Ti 1:5. Further, what is God’s great provision for those who in humility look to Him with a good and honest heart? Cf. Joh 3:16, Act 16:29-31, 1Co 15:3-4, Eph 2:4-9.
At what point in this parable would the religious leaders who were confronting Jesus have taken issue with Him? See Mat 21:37 and think: who does the son of the landowner represent, and how would Jesus’ thinly veiled proclamation of Himself to that position far above even that of the great prophets of old have sat with them? See Heb 1:1-2; cf. Joh 5:17-18, 10:29-36, 19:7, Mat 26:63-65, 27:40,43. If Jesus was in fact the Son of God, what ought their attitude toward Him to have been? See again Mat 21:37. Although the religious leaders might argue that they simply didn’t know that Jesus was the Son of God and acted in ignorance, from Jesus’ words in the parable was that really the case? I.e., does the parable say, “They didn’t recognize the landowner’s son and accidently killed him thinking he was an imposter”? What evidences did they in fact have that Jesus was the Son of God Whom He made Himself out to be? See Joh 5:19-21, 9:30-33, 10:37-38, 11:25-27,41-47. In the day of judgment, will ignorance be a valid plea as so many suppose? Cf. Joh 3:19-21.
In the parable, with what one word did the vine-growers describe the son of the landowner? See Mat 21:38; cf. Heb 1:1-2. What was their intention in regard to him, and why? What was the inheritance that the vine-growers supposed would be theirs if they killed the son of the landowner? How is that like the religious leaders of the Jews? Joh 11:48-50. How does this help us to understand that the fundamental issue of the religious leaders’ rebellion was lordship; i.e., who would be the lord and master of the vineyard: God or them? How was this also reflected in their questioning of Jesus’ authority in the previous context, and Jesus’ question to them about John’s authority? In what ways is lordship still a fundamental issue today even among Christ’s followers, both corporately and individually? In this light, is it possible to have Jesus as Savior and not Lord as some suppose? What warning does this parable offer those who are more than happy to enrich themselves with all the blessings of salvation in the Lord’s vineyard but at the same time refuse His Lordship and want to be their own master? What similar and additional warning does Jesus give regarding the same thing to those who would be the religious leaders of His own followers (i.e., to Christian leaders)? See Mat 24:45-51; cf. Luk 12:46.
Where does Matthew say the vine-growers killed the son of the landowner, and why is that significant? See Heb 13:10-13. What does this help us to understand about why it is important to not be ashamed of but to seek fellowship among the small, despised flock that is outside of the mainstream—on the narrow path, off of the broad road? Cf. Heb 11:36-38.
1. Note, Many can easily prognosticate the dismal consequences of other people’s sins, that see not what will be the end of their own. Matthew Henry↩