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                        "THE PARABLES OF JESUS"

                 The Wicked Vinedressers (Mt 21:33-46)

INTRODUCTION

1. As we saw in our last study, Jesus often used parables to reply to
   those who opposed Him

2. In the parable of "The Two Sons" (Mt 21:28-32), Jesus responded to
   those who had rejected John the Baptist

3. But in the parable of "The Wicked Vinedressers" (Mt 21:33-46), Jesus
   vividly describes the sinfulness of those religious leaders who were
   rejecting the very Son of God!

[Let's begin with a reading of the parable and Jesus' follow-up 
comments (READ).  This is one parable in which Jesus' meaning and 
purpose is very evident...]

I. THE MEANING OF THE PARABLE

   A. THE VARIOUS ITEMS OF THE PARABLE ARE EVIDENT...
      1. The vineyard immediately brings to mind Israel
         a. The figure of a vineyard referring to Israel was well-known
            - cf. Isa 5:1-7
         b. But here it is not Israel as a nation per se...
            1) Rather, "the special advantages and opportunities which
               were given to the people as the chosen seed" (W.M. 
               Taylor, The Parables of Our Saviour)
            2) For later Jesus explains the vineyard (or kingdom of
               God) "will be given to a nation producing its fruit" -
               cf. Mt 21:43
      2. The landowner who planted the vineyard is God
      3. The wicked vinedressers represents Israel's leaders - cf. Mt
         21:45
         a. Their chief priests, scribes, elders, and all their
            followers
         b. Therefore, the physical nation of Israel as a whole
      4. The servants who were sent in behalf of the landowner
         represents the prophets
         a. As a nation, Israel rejected many of her prophets - cf. 
            2Ch 36:15-16
         b. Note the plaintive cry of Jesus over Jerusalem later on 
            - Mt 23:37
      5. The landowner's son is Jesus Christ Himself

   B. THE SUCCEEDING QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS REVEAL JESUS' INTENT...
      1. Which was to help them see why God would be just
         a. In bringing condemnation upon Israel
         b. In giving the blessings of Israel to those more deserving 
            - cf. Mt 21:43
      2. Indeed, their rejection of Jesus had been foretold in the 
         Scriptures - Mt 21:42; cf. Ps 118:22,23
         a. The "builders" were the religious leaders of the nation
         b. The "stone" which they rejected was Christ
         c. Yet, this stone would be made a "chief cornerstone" by God
            Himself
            1) In which God would build a something "new "
            2) I.e., the church in which both Jew and Gentile were
               fellow citizens of the household of God- cf. Ep 2:19-20
      3. In elaborating on "the stone which the builders rejected", 
         Jesus reveals the terrible consequence for those who reject it
         - Mt 21:44
         a. Another way of saying it is anyone who opposes Christ is 
            destined to fall, even be "pulverized"
         b. The same was said of those who would not trust in the Lord
            in Isaiah's day - cf. Isa 8:13-15

[The main lesson of this parable can be summarized in the words of Ps 
2:12...

         "Kiss (i.e., pay homage to) the Son, lest He be angry,
            And you perish in the way,
            When His wrath is kindled but a little.
         "Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him."

So obvious was Jesus' meaning and intent in telling this parable, that
the religious leaders' would have arrested Him at that moment had it 
not been for the people (Mt 21:45-46).

What application can we make for ourselves from this parable?  Is there
a lesson for us today that can be drawn...?]

II. AN APPLICATION OF THE PARABLE

   A. FIRST, NOTE THAT GOD OFTEN BESTOWS WONDERFUL PRIVILEGES...
      1. This He had done with the nation of Israel
         a. Like a precious vineyard, God planted Israel in Canaan
         b. He blessed the nation with laws, priests, prophets, and 
            other special privileges
         c. He eventually sent His only begotten Son as their Messiah
      2. How about us today?
         a. Have we not received wonderful privileges from God?
         b. We enjoy free access to the Word of God, and the freedom to
            worship without fear of persecution; many in the world do
            not
         c. We are blessed to hear things that prophets, kings, and 
            saints of old desired to hear and were not able - cf. Mt
            13:16-17

   B. SECOND, NOTE HOW PEOPLE OFTEN MAKE BAD USE OF THEIR PRIVILEGES...
      1. The history of Israel as a nation established by God
         a. They consistently murmured against God in the wilderness
         b. They turned away from God time and again during the period
            of the Judges
         c. They persecuted His prophets, and eventually rejected His 
            own Son
      2. What about us today?
         a. We have blessings given to us through Christ
            1) The forgiveness of sins through His blood
            2) The aid of the Holy Spirit in putting to death the deeds
               of the body
            3) The joy of fellowship in the family of God
            4) The privilege of sharing the gospel with a dying world
         b. And yet Christians often turn their back on such blessings
            1) They sin, and do not seek forgiveness
            2) They do not seek the help God gives to deal with the 
               problem of sin
            3) They neglect their brethren by forsaking the assembling,
               and by not developing close relationships with them
            4) They make little or no effort to spread the precious 
               gospel of Christ

   C. THIRD, NOTE THE AWFUL JUDGMENT THAT COMES UPON THOSE WHO MAKE BAD
      USE OF THEIR PRIVILEGES...
      1. Again, the nation of Israel is an example
         a. They suffered forty years of wandering in the wilderness
         b. God allowed neighboring nations to be a thorn in their side
         c. They endured Assyrian and Babylonian captivity
         d. God destroyed their temple and their religion by the 
            Babylonians (586 B.C.) and the Romans (70 A.D.)
         e. He has indeed taken away the kingdom of God from them, and
            given it to a nation bearing the fruits of it - Mt 21:43
      2. Would God bring such judgments against His church or people 
         today if they abuse their privileges?
         a. Consider the words of Jesus - Jn 15:1-2,6; Re 2:4-5, 16; 
            3:1-3
         b. Consider what was written to the Hebrew Christians - He 10:
            26-31
      3. Clearly, if we do not utilize our special privileges...
         a. God will take away the blessings we have (i.e., the kingdom
            of God)
         b. And give it to someone who appreciates it (i.e. bears the 
            fruit of it)

CONCLUSION

1. Truly God has given us wonderful blessings...
   a. He made us worthy to be "partakers of the inheritance of the 
      saints" - Col 1:12
   b. He "has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us
      into the kingdom of the Son of His love" - Col 1:13
   c. In Christ we have "redemption through His blood, the forgiveness
      of sins" - Col 1:14
   d. He sent us apostles and prophets of His Son, whose words are in 
      the New Testament

2. Let us be careful how we receive them (cf. Jn 13:20), for the next
   time the Beloved Son is sent, He is coming in terrifying judgment! 
   - 2Th 1:7-10

Indeed, as Jesus said, "For everyone to whom much is given, from him 
much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him 
they will ask the more." (Lk 12:48)
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