REJECTION OF CHRIST MEANS LOSS OF KINGDOM INHERITANCE AND THE UNLEASHING OF THE WRATH OF GOD (FOR THE WICKED RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF ISRAEL)
Think of the simple command in the NT addressed to all children: their fundamental responsibility is to Honor, to Respect their parents. How shocking and evil and wicked it is when we see a TV newscast give an account of a child turning against his parents and killing them – the ultimate expression of rejection; the ultimate violation of this simple command.
Our passage this morning looks at the parallel responsibility we all have to Honor, to Respect Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the authority over our lives. We will see the ultimate violation of that command by the religious leaders who conspired to put Jesus to death at the hands of the Roman authorities. But I want you to be thinking of your own response to this overarching responsibility. How are we doing each day when it comes to showing Respect for the Lord Jesus?
(:1a) TRANSITION: PARABLE MEANT TO CONVICT RATHER THAN CONCEAL –
PARABLE OF JUDGMENT
“And He began to speak to them in parables:”
This is the third day of Passion Week; a lot going on; Jesus still in the temple – having just put down a sneak attack trying to undermine His authority by an official delegation of the Sanhedrin – those leading scribes and Pharisees and chief priests and elders who came to Jesus and questioned the nature and source of His authority.
Matthew records 3 parables; Mark only this one (unless you break it into 2 with same theme – parable of wicked vinedressers and of the rejected stone)
Sproul: (4:11-12) most of Jesus’ parables were designed to present a truth about the kingdom of God in a subtle way so that believers would understand but those outside the kingdom would not. However, the meaning of the wicked vinedressers is plain, and those whom it targeted, namely, the religious leaders of Israel, understood it clearly.
MacArthur: Now, notice He doesn’t say what is the formula for many of the parables, “The kingdom of heaven is like,” because this is not about the kingdom of heaven. This breaks the mold. This is about judgment, and this is not a parable to hide the realities of the kingdom, but to reveal the reality of judgment.
I. (:1) GOD’S LOVE — LOVING INVESTMENT IN THE NATION OF ISRAEL
“A man planted a vineyard,”
Alan Carr: Jesus is sharing the parable while standing in the Court of the Gentiles. Just over one shoulder is the Mount of Olives with its side literally covered with grapevines. Over the other shoulder is the majestic temple built by King Herod. On the door of that temple is carved a huge and magnificent grapevine. That grapevine is embellished with leaves of pure silver and gold. The grapes that hang down are precious jewels. Often, wealthy Jews would add another expensive leaf or another precious stone to that vine. The Jewish leaders have no doubts about what the Lord is talking about in this parable. He is talking about the nation of Israel.
Requires planning; hard work; perseverance; dedication; commitment
Not easy to clear the land of stones and plant a vineyard
Think of God’s sovereign election of the nation of Israel based on His own goodness and initiative – not because Israel was anything special
“and put a wall around it,”
establish the boundaries
keep out the wild animals that would eat the grapes
Hiebert: Such a hedge or fence might be built of unmortared stone gathered out of the field or be a planted hedge of thorn bushes.
“and dug a vat under the wine press,
talking about real wine; not just grape juice that was produced
you can’t preach abstinence from Scripture … merely refraining from drunkenness – which in itself implies that alcohol is being imbibed
Hiebert: The winepress, generally hewn out of the solid rock, was composed of two vats, an upper, broad, and shallow hollow where the grapes were crushed, and the lower, smaller, and deeper, vat, connected by a channel, where the juice was collected.
“and built a tower,”
watch for thieves that might try to steal away the harvest
Took a lot of hard work to clear the land of stones and then prepare the vineyard in this fashion
Hiebert: used for shelter and storage as well as an observation post for the watch man. It was often circular in shape, built of stones, with a flat roof, and was as much as fifteen or twenty feet high.
[cf. our fire towers in the forest]
“and rented it out to vine-growers”
common practice of the day; their role was not one of ownership but rather of stewardship and administration on behalf of the owner
Identification of the vine-growers is key to understanding the parable – these are the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day
“and went on a journey.”
Luke adds that the owner stayed away a long time
Allowed these tenant farmers the independence of managing the property in his absence
Illustration: owner of local 7-11 stores; afraid to go on a vacation because his employees will rob him blind
What a demonstration of the Goodness of God:
Alan Carr: Since He is good, He deserves to be praised by all living creatures, “Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD,” Psa. 150:6.
II. (:2-5) GOD’S PATIENCE — UNREQUITED PATIENCE AND FORBEARANCE
Despite the Consistent, Intensifying Persecution of God’s Prophets
A. (:2-3) First Instance – Beat Him and Run Him Off
1. (:2) Reasonable Attempt at Accountability
“And at the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to
receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers.”
“Servant” = common designation for the prophets in the OT
Brian Borgman: Primary role of prophet: call covenant people of God to repentance and back to covenant fidelity; make sure that God got his due
Reasonable expectation on the part of the owner – expects the rent payment – it is harvest time; pay what you owe; nothing burdensome or excessive here
2. (:3) Reaction of Unjust Violence
“And they took him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed.”
Shocking! Imagine a franchise owner in today’s business world responding in such open violence and aggression – how unfair; how unexpected; how completely unjustified and indefensible
What we are expecting is immediate retaliation and holding these scoundrels accountable
B. (:4) Second Instance – Severely Injure Him and Humiliate Him
1. Patient Attempt at Accountability
“And again he sent them another slave,”
The point is not that the owner is stupid and naïve
2. Reaction of Unjust Violence
“and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully.”
“‘and treated him shamefully'” — This is a verbal form of the name Timothy, which means “honor” or “worth” with the alpha privative. It connotes “to treat with contempt” or “total disrespect” (cf. James 2:6). — Bob Utley
God’s ministers not to be concerned with the results of their ministry but with faithfulness of carrying out their assigned tasks
C. (:5a) Third Instance – Kill him
1. Forbearing Attempt at Accountability
“And he sent another,”
2. Reaction of Unjust Violence
“and that one they killed;”
D. (:5b) Repeated Similar Instances – All of the above
1. Longsuffering Attempt at Accountability
“and so with many others,”
2. Reaction of Unjust Violence
“beating some, and killing others.”
No exaggeration — Heb.11:35-38
Acts 7:52 “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become;”
Application to persecuted church today
III. (:6-8) GOD’S SACRIFICE – PUTTING HIS BELOVED SON AT RISK
Resulting in the Covetous, Treacherous Execution of God’s Son
A. (:6) Final Demonstration of Ultimate Love
“He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them,
saying, ‘They will respect my son.’”
James Edwards: the son differs from the slaves in several important respects:
– they are many, he is unique;
– they are hirelings, perhaps even themselves property; he is the heir;
– they are forerunners, he is the last and final word of the father.
– Above all, the son is “beloved.” The word recalls Abraham’s love for Isaac (Gen. 22:2), Jacob’s love for Joseph (Gen. 37:3), God’s love for Israel (Isa 5:1)
“beloved Son” – this was the Father’s public term of endearment for His Son
– Mark 1:11 – at baptism of Jesus
– Mark 9:7 – at transfiguration
Key point of Parable: Necessity of Respecting the Son of God in all we do
strictly turn back or about; (1) active put to shame, make ashamed, reprove (1C 4.14); (2) passive be put to shame, be ashamed (TI 2.8); (3) passive with the middle sense; strictly turn oneself toward someone; hence respect, reverence, have regard for (MT 21.37)
How can we Respect the Son?
– Respect His Word and His Authority by our Obedience – condemning the religious leaders here for their failure to respect His authority – look at last paragraph
– Respect His Worthiness by our Worship
– Respect His Worthiness by our Witness – or are we ashamed to identify with Jesus?
– Respect Him by Giving Gifts – cf. Mary pouring out precious perfume on his feet; understand what stewardship is all about
– Respect Him by Imitating Him; becoming more like Him
B. (:7) Fatal Miscalculation by the Religious Leaders
“But those vine-growers said to one another,
‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’”
Cf. Gen. 37:20 – same words spoken by brothers of Joseph
C. (:8) Final Rejection of the Messiah by the Religious Leaders
“And they took him, and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.”
“threw him out of the vineyard” —
Heb.13:12,13 “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”
IV. (:9) GOD’S RESPONSE – ONE OF BOTH WRATH AND GRACE
“What will the owner of the vineyard do?”
Can’t believe He has waited this long to respond in wrath and judgment
A. Response of Wrath — Destruction
“He will come and destroy the vine-growers,”
Seems to speak more of the Second Coming than the judgment of A.D. 70
Anticipation of the Second Coming – He will come – despite the scoffers and mockers saying where is the promise of His coming; despite people living as if they owe no accountability to their Creator
B. Response of Grace – Disenfranchising but Diversification
“and will give the vineyard to others.”
Romans 9 describes this process of the Jews being cut off for a time in part and the Gentiles being grafted into the kingdom of God
Parunak: — “Give the vineyard unto others.” Cf. Matt. 19:28, the role of the Twelve in the coming kingdom. Cf. emphasis in Rev. 20:4 on the ruling position of the martyrs.
V. (:10-11) GOD’S MASTER PLAN – BRINGING BLESSING OUT OF WICKEDNESS
“Have you not even read this Scripture:”
What a dig at the scribes and Pharisees and priests who considered themselves experts in the OT
Switching imagery here – from the cultivation of a vineyard to the building of the temple
Same lesson – God dealing with the Rejection of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ
A. (:10) Surprising Value Reversal
“The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone;”
Opposite of respecting and reverencing the Son is rejecting Him
(Acts 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:4, 7; Rom. 9:32-33; Ephes. 2:20)
Bob Utley: The metaphor of the Messiah as a stone comes from several OT usages.
1. YHWH’s strength and stability (cf. Ps. 18:1-2)
2. Daniel’s vision in chapter 2 (cf. Dan. 2:34-35,48)
3. the building component which either
a. starts the building (i.e., cornerstone)
b. holds the weight of the building (i.e., center stone or keystone in the arch)
c. finishes the building (i.e., top stone or cap stone)
The building refers metaphorically to the people of God, the true temple (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22).
Parunak: Head of the corner: turns out to be the capstone, finished on three sides rather than just one (like a wall stone) or two (a corner or roof edge). Different not because it doesn’t fit, but because it has a unique role.
B. (:11) Marvelous Providential Fulfillment
“This came about from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes?”
VI. (:12) IMPACT OF THE PARABLE ON THE JEWISH RELIGIOUS LEADERS
“And they were seeking to seize Him;”
MacArthur: Here, in this parable on Wednesday, He tells the very people who are going to kill Him that they’re going to kill Him. He knows this without question. This is no surprise to Him at all. It is a very moving parable, and Jesus as the ultimate story teller captures His audience with the outrageous behavior of the vine growers, the tenant farmers in this story. The audience of chief priests and scribes and Pharisees and elders are outraged at the behavior of these vine growers, and we’ll see that as we go through, and they should have been.
They were the ones who upheld the temple, the sacrifices, the ceremonies, the rituals, and more importantly the law of God. They were the representatives of God in the world, and righteous behavior and holy behavior was their stock and trade and their expectation of everyone. They’re shocked at the behavior of this man. They’re shocked at the behavior of these vine growers, the man, meaning the man who owns the vineyard. They’re shocked at everything that goes on in this story. Then in the end, the shock hits them right between the eyes.
“and yet they feared the multitude;”
should have feared God who could destroy body and soul
“for they understood that He spoke the parable against them.”
They got the point of the parable
They had the knowledge and the conviction … but they hardened their hearts and continued to resist the truth
“And so they left Him, and went away.”
They departed seething in frustration and pent-up anger
“Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!”
Let us be found today as those who are respecting the Son of God and taking refuge in His loving care.