Matthew 21:33-46 (The Parable of the Wicked Tenants, Part 6)

What does Matthew record Jesus as saying that makes plain the meaning of this parable?  See Mat 21:43.  How is this meaning related to the acted parable of the fig tree that occurred that very morning?  Although certainly a loss like someone losing their job (cf. Luk 16:1-2), was it the case that the “taking away” of the kingdom of God from the Jews would be a relatively benign event?  I.e., although the deeds of the wicked vine-growers certainly warranted His action, should we assume that because God is so full of love that His actions in replacing them with more worthy tenants would be no more severe than an employer replacing a negligent employee?  See Mat 21:41,44; cf. Mar 11:20, 12:9.  What does this teach us about the reality of the wrath of God?  Cf. Eph 5:5-6, Col 3:5-6.  What does it also help us to understand about the manifold blessings of all that we consider life and joy and peace that are ours only because of our position and employment in His vineyard, and that those things must cease if we, like the Jews, should ever lose our position in that vineyard?  See Deut 8:11-20.

What is the meaning of Mat 21:44?  Note that the “but” can also and is better translated as “and”, indicating the completely destructive consequences of opposing the chosen Stone of the Lord, regardless of whether one falls upon that stone or that stone falls upon him.[1] Note also that “broken to pieces” means “shattered” and is most often used in the LXX of shattering the head: cf. Jdg 5:26, 9:53, Psa 68:21, 74:13-14; see also Psa 110:5-6 for the Messianic reference of the Lord shattering His enemies.  Note too that “scatters like dust” is a reference to the way the wind separates the chaff from the wheat when one winnows grain; cf. Mat 3:12.  It is also a picture of how God scatters a people among the nations, which is what happened to the Jews; cf. Eze 36:18-19.  In what ways did the Jews especially fall on that Stone?  See Isa 8:14-15, Rom 9:32-33, 1Co 1:23, 1Pe 2:6-8.  In what way does that Stone of Christ and His kingdom fall upon every man and kingdom that opposes Him so as to scatter them like dust?  See Dan 2:34-35,44.  Again, what do these images teach us about the wrath of God being more than just a figure of speech that is mitigated by His great love?

Consider again the investment that the Lord made in His vineyard and the work He did in order that it might be fruitful in its season.  Besides the initial planting, what further and ultimate expense did it cost Him in order that He might have a fruitful vineyard?  See Mat 21:34-39.  Has He not now rented out that vineyard to us as Christians and planted it with an even choicer, more fruitful vine of the very best, proven stock and put a wall about it so that we might bring forth its fruit in its season and share in the bounty of its harvest to become prosperous, even to the storing up of eternal riches?  Cf. again Isa 5:3-4.  But like the first vine-growers, have we forgotten that we are not our own (1Co 6:19-20), that He planted the vineyard for His own purpose and pleasure—indeed for His own profit (Eph 1:18)—and that He is expecting a return on His costs for it?  See Deut 6:10-13.  Are we then paying Him—or at least preparing to pay Him—the proceeds according to what is fair and right in regard to His cost for the vineyard?  Or are we saying in our hearts, “God, I am the lord of my own vineyard and I work for myself; this is my own business and I am my own boss, so what right do You have to demand payment from me?”  Cf. 2Ti 3:2a.  What word can only be used to describe those who in their hearts are so proud and ungrateful and unjust in regard to what they fairly owe their Lord?  See Mat 21:41.  If we are not now paying God the proceeds of the vineyard, shall we have any excuse in the day of judgment?  See Heb 2:1-3a.  Shall we say in that day: “Lord, I know that you set me up in a truly desirable situation within your vineyard wherein I might prosper in safety and have a blessed share in the reward of its fruits, but I didn’t understand that You actually expected me to do anything!  I thought You had special trained workers for that sort of thing, and I was just supposed to watch them work and enjoy the fruit of their labors.  Besides, Your expectations seemed kind of unreasonable when I had so many other things of my own to do, actually even harsh, especially since You seem so capable Yourself.  To be honest, You seem to be a hard man, expecting to reap what others sowed, and to have a share in the harvest when You didn’t even help plant.”  What words can only be used to describe such a person, and what can only be the end of it?  See Mat 25:24-30.

 


1. Some make this an allusion to the manner of stoning to death among the Jews. The malefactors were first thrown down violently from a high scaffold upon a great stone, which would much bruise them; but then they threw another great stone upon them, which would crush them to pieces: one way or other, Christ will utterly destroy all those that fight against him. If they be so stout-hearted, that they are not destroyed by falling on this stone, yet it shall fall on them, and so destroy them. (Matthew Henry).

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