In the Parable of the Tenants in Matthew 21: 33 – 46 Jesus
continues to speak to the chief priests and elders and Pharisees pulling them
into another story where they again make a quick judgment and incriminate
themselves. These leaders are familiar with the way the parable opens: there is
a landowner, a vineyard, a wall, a winepress and a watchtower. If you read
Isaiah 5: 1 – 7 you can get into the heads of these men and know what they
know. The same landowner, vineyard, wall, winepress and watchtower are
presented in the Old Testament.



In Jesus’ parable the vineyard (the kingdom of heaven
or Israel) is rented to some farmers (the leaders and people of Israel) and at
harvest time the landowner (God) sends his servants (the prophets) to collect
the fruit. They are beaten, killed and stoned. He sends his son (Jesus, the
Messiah) and they kill him, too.



Jesus asks the Pharisees what the landowner will do to
the tenants and they immediately say “He will bring those wretches to a
wretched end and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him
his share of the crop at harvest time.”



Boy, they got that right. Jesus then directly says
that the kingdom of God will be taken away from them (the Jews) and given to a people
(the Gentiles) who will produce its fruit. Just before this, in verse 42, Jesus
says “Have you never read . . .” and then he quotes Psalm 118, the very psalm
that was sung and shouted three days before (Palm Sunday) on Jesus’ triumphal
entry into Jerusalem (“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”).  I think he is ridiculing or at the least being
condescending and disdainful of the priests when he starts that statement with
the negative “never”.



“Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the
builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is
marvelous in our eyes’?” The stone, of course, is Jesus as Peter proclaims
quite clearly in Acts 4:11.



Verse 44 is double deadly: “He who falls on this stone
will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” The
Pharisees and the chief priests have fallen on the stone (Jesus) and they are
being broken because they just don’t “get it” and they still look for a way to
arrest him. The stone will fall on and utterly crush those who don’t believe –
unbelievers will be destroyed – ground to powder. That’s a pretty gruesome
picture and it’s one that you can find first in the book of Daniel, chapter 2,
where the same crushing stone refers to the Second Advent. Daniel warns that if
we do not respond to the ministry of the gospel in the present age, there is
coming a time when the enemies of the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be utterly
destroyed.



(I am fascinated with how the Old and New Testaments
inter-weave so divinely. Come visit me at Edge of Escape)

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Tags: 21, matthew, parables

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