“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. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
(Matthew 21:33-40 ESV)
The context of the parable was that the Father constantly appealed to his people but they would not listen. Jesus highlights that God the Father is the ‘master’ of the parable and teaches us about the character of God.
This is how Jesus describes HIS Father:
- God provides the means to serve him: “planted a vineyard”, “put a fence around it”, “dug a winepress”, ” built a tower”
- Father delegates responsibilities and wants his children to enjoy the goodness of eternal life: ” leased it to tenants”.
- Father is looking for us to do good works and grow spiritually and produce the fruit of the Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)
- The servants are the prophets who are sent to MEDIATE on God’s behalf to turn the people from wickedness to righteousness, but the people refuse. The servants are not the “Master” of the house.
- Finally the son is also sent to MEDIATE on God’s behalf to turn them from wickedness to righteousness, but the people refuse. The Son is not the “Master” of the house but He ” is the heir”.
The key in this parable is the Father’s care and concern and eventual reason for judgment. It should be noted that the Father, prophets and the son all failed in converting the Jewish people. Yet it was God’s desire and intention that they should be given a chance even at the cost of his own son being tortured and murdered.
Again, the son dying is not a NEW CONCEPT. The prophets already had experienced such rejections:
“And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.”
It is the Father’s attempt to appeal to the maximum possible extent even at the ‘cost of his son’ before a final judgment was pronounced on them:
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” (Matthew 21:43-44 ESV)
The Father is not the Son and the tenants are not the Father.
Father acts on the impulse of Love.
Think about how great the Father’s love towards his children – born of Israel:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate.
(Matthew 23:37-38 ESV)
Jesus is NOT the Master!
Jesus is the heir!
The apostles preached thus
Act 5:30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.
Act 5:31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
Act 3:25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’
Act 3:26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.“