Matthew 21:33-36. “Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.”
This is a more complicated parable, and still it keeps the religious leaders in place. This time, the parable reviews the history of their nation and predicts the calamity that will soon come to Israel. Later on, we’ll find that these men understood exactly what Jesus’ story was about. They must have figured it out pretty quickly, when Jesus spoke of the vineyard, the hedge and the winepress, the tower and the husbandmen, as well as of the fruit the vineyard was to yield. Israel, the nation to whom He had come to offer the Kingdom. Israel, a vineyard, is an Old Testament picture. The parable is founded upon Isaiah 5:1-7, Jeremiah 2:21, and Psalm 53:8. All these words had already been spoken to the prophets of old, and now He was come in the flesh to flash the truth of God’s mercy to Israel, their shameful past and the still greater sin in the hearts of these national leaders. The vineyard was not bearing fruit. The servants who came to the vineyard are the prophets sent by God, who had been rejected and mistreated.
We’ll look at the rest of the story tomorrow. It is a heartbreaking picture of the hearts of men who have had every opportunity to thrive, and yet when they are held accountable, they fail to bear fruit. Let’s not be too quick to point the finger at unbelieving Israel. We’re no different. Our hearts easily grow cold and hard, and it often takes persecution to bring us to our knees in repentance for our unbelief.