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Matthew 21:33-46 BLB-HFBC

MT. 21:33-46 BLB

3. (Mat 21:33-41) The parable of the wicked servants.

33 "Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 34 Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. 35 And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. 37 Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' 38 But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.' 39 So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?" They said to Him, 41 "He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons."

a. There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it: Jesus told of a landowner who prepared his vineyard carefully and hired men to manage it (the vinedressers). The men who were supposed to manage his vineyard mistreated and killed the messengers sent by the landowner. Finally he sent his son, and they killed him also - foolishly believing they would take control of the vineyard. Yet the response of the landowner was not to yield to the vinedressers but to judge and destroy them.

i. The Old Testament often used the picture of a vineyard to speak of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:32, Psalm 80:8, Jeremiah 2:21, and especially Isaiah 5:1-7).

b. They will respect my son ... This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance: Jesus portrayed the madness of the chief priests and elders who plotted to kill the Father's Son sent to the rebellious leaders of Israel.

i. "The husbandmen treat the messengers in the most barbarous and truculent manner: beating, killing, stoning to death; highly improbable in the natural sphere, but another instance in which parables have to violate the natural probability in order to describe truly men's conduct in the spiritual sphere." (Bruce)

ii. "By the servants here sent to the husbandmen are doubtless to be understood those extraordinary prophets." (Poole)

iii. "They caught him in the garden of Gethsemane; they cast him out in their Council in the hall of Caiaphas, and when he was led without the gate of Jerusalem; they slew him at Calvary." (Spurgeon)

c. He will destroy those wicked men miserably: The message of this parable is clear enough. With this answer, the chief priests and elders understood what the wicked servants deserved. Truly, those who rebel against their master this way deserve judgment.

i. Again, they saw that the owner of the vineyard had the right to expect the fruits in their seasons. In the same way, God looked for fruit from Israel's leadership, but found little (as shown in the fig tree incident).

ii. "Oh, that the Lord may raise up a race of men 'who shall render him the fruits in their seasons!' The hallmark of a faithful minister is his giving to God all the glory of any work that he is enabled to do. That which does not magnify the Lord will not bless men." (Spurgeon)

d. And lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons: The leaders of Israel were so corrupt that God was transferring leadership to others - specifically, to the apostles and then to the Jewish/Gentile church they would lead.

4. (Mat 21:42-46) Jesus warns the religious leaders of the result of their rejecting Him.

42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? 43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder." 45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.

a. Have you never read the Scriptures: This manner of speaking to the chief priests and elders of Israel must have angered them. Jesus speaks to the leading theologians of Israel and asks them if they have ever read their Scriptures.

b. The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone: Jesus quoted this from Psalm 118 to remind them that their rejection of Him said more about their guilt and coming judgment than it said about Jesus Himself. Though they reject Him, He is still the chief cornerstone, fulfilling the great Messianic Psalm 118.

i. Like a painting from a great master, Jesus is not on trial - those who look at Him are. These leaders who rejected Jesus had to hear the eventual consequences of their rejection.

ii. Clearly, Jesus claimed to be the rejected stone of Psalm 118:22-24 that God appointed to become the chief cornerstone. He is also the stone of Isaiah 8:13-15 that people stumble over, the foundation stone and precious cornerstone of Isaiah 28:16, and the stone of Daniel 2:34, 44-45 that destroys the world in rebellion to God.

c. The kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it: Jesus warned the religious leaders that if they continued their rejection of God and His Messiah, they could expect that God would pass the leadership of His work on earth to others.

i. "The doom is forfeiture of privilege, the kingdom is taken from them and given to others." (Bruce)

ii. "The sphere in which we must look for God at work in salvation is no longer the nation of Israel but another nation. This is not the Gentiles as such (that would require the plural ethnesin, not the singular ethnei), but a people of God derived from all nations, Jew and Gentile." (France)

iii. "It is to be feared, saith one, lest Mr. Herbert be a true prophet, and the gospel be, in its solar motion, travelling for the West, for the American parts, and quitting in its present place of residence, and unworthy professors and possessors; and then farewell England." (Trapp)

iv. "What a warning is this to our own country! We, too, are seeing the sacrifice and deity of our Lord questioned, and his Sacred Word assailed by those who should have been its advocates. Unless there is speedy amendment, the Lord may take away the candlestick out of its place and find another race which will prove more faithful to him and his Gospel than our own has been." (Spurgeon)

d. Whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder: The choice before the religious leaders is the choice before every person. We can be broken in humble surrender before God or be completely broken in judgment.

e. They sought to lay hands on Him: Instead of repenting, the religious leaders responded with anger, continuing to increase the greatness of their sin of rejecting Jesus.

i. They perceived that He was speaking of them: "Who told them so, but their own guilty consciences?" (Trapp)

HFBC Lesson: Matthew 21:33-45

Motivation: The church is all about proclaiming the 'Good News' of the gospel. However, God's Word is faithful to record the 'Bad News' as well. In this study we'll examine the consequences of rejecting Christ.

I.    Parable of the Withering Fig Tree (18-22)

      "Early in the morning, as He was returning to the city, He was hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He went up to it and found nothing on it except leaves. And He said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" At once the fig tree withered." (18-19) Jesus cursed the fig tree because of unfruitfulness (John 15:1-5).

A.              Jesus' Power- He demonstrated His power HCSB: p. 1654: 21:17-19 "On His way from Bethany to Jerusalem, Jesus passed again through Bethphage, 'the House of Unripe Figs' (v.1).  In light of Mc 5:7, the fruitless fig tree symbolized Israel's moral barrenness.  The cursing of the tree forewarned of God's coming judgment against Jerusalem and its temple."

B. Our Power in Prayer "Jesus answered them, 'I assure you: If you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' it will be done.22 And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." (21-22) HCSB: p. 1654: 21: 20-22 "Jesus' disciples apparently overlooked the symbolic significance of Jesus' miracle and simply focused on the power of His command.  Although this mountain could be a reference to the Mount of Olives (Zch 14:4) or the temple mount, it probably referred to God's power to do humanly impossible thing in response to prayer (1 Co 13:2)."

When faced with a crisis, Jesus' first instinct was to pray: in the wilderness (Luke 5:16), at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-29), for Peter (Luke 22:32), at the Last Supper (Matt. 26:26-27), in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-46), on the Cross (Matt. 27:46), and at Olivet (Luke 24:50). Often, He prayed several hours; Luke records Him praying all night (6:12).  Jesus' instructions to His disciples in John are instructive: "Until now you have asked nothing in My name.  Ask and you will receive that your joy may be full" (John 16:23-24) In the model prayer (Luke 11:2-4), the disciples were not instructed to pray "In Jesus name." However, Jesus also talks about agreement with believers (18:19), agreement with His will (John 14:13-14, 15:16, 16:23) and agreement with His plan for our lives.  (1 John 3:22) Prayer isn't trying to conform God to our will; rather, it is about finding His will and being in agreement with it.  We can only pray "believing" when we know that we are in agreement with Him. (Col. 1:9-14).  Now as His redemptive work is imminent and He is speaking of leaving them, Jesus says to change the way you pray.  The results of praying according to Christ's will, is complete joy. 

1.   The Proprietor of Prayer "Anything you ask the Father" (John 16:23) God is the proprietor, He owns the store.  Our prayer is to be directed to our heavenly Father.  (Phil. 4:10; 2 Cor. 8:9)

2.   The Propitiator of Prayer "in My name" (John 16:23, 24) Asking "in Jesus' name" means more than simply saying the words.  It is a confession that He alone is our Savior, Redeemer, and Lord; we, therefore, are His disciples and are following His teaching.  Therefore, the request asked "in Jesus Name" must be a request in keeping with the character and truth that Jesus' embodied.  When one prays "in Jesus' name," he/she is praying a request that Jesus would approve and asking Jesus to intercede to the Father through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Heb. 7:25).

3.   The Product of Prayer:

a.   "Ask, and you will receive" (John 16:24) We are commanded to be intercessors so that things may be changed.  The verb tense implies "ask and keep on asking."

b.   "That your joy may be complete" (John 16:24) Prayer is about conforming our desires to those of God rather than about changing God's desires to ours! (Lam. 3:22-23).  If our "joy may be complete" comes by continually seeking God's face in prayer, then prayerlessness is a key reason for lack of joy.

II. Challenge to Jesus' Authority (23-27)

      "24 Jesus answered them, "I will also ask you one question, and if you answer it for Me, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things.25 Where did John's baptism come from? From heaven or from men?" (24) HCSB: p.1654: 21:23-27 "John the Baptist said that Messiah would pour out the transforming Spirit on His disciples and punish the unrepentant with fiery judgment. John also identified Jesus as the promised Messiah.  Admission that John was a prophet would require the Jewish leaders to acknowledge Jesus' authority also."

III.       Parable of the Two Sons (28-32)

      "Jesus said to them, "I assure you: Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you! 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn't believe him. Tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him, but you, when you saw it, didn't even change your minds then and believe him." (31-32) HCSB: p. 1654-55: 21:28-32 "The father here symbolizes God.  The first son symbolizes notorious sinners like tax collectors and prostitutes who initially rebel against the Father's will but later repent and obey.  The other son represents the chief priests and elders who promised obedience to God but never fulfilled their commandment."

IV.       The Son Sent (33-37)

      "Listen to another parable: There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. He leased it to tenant farmers and went away.34 When the grape harvest drew near, he sent his slaves to the farmers to collect his fruit. 35 But the farmers took his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Again, he sent other slaves, more than the first group, and they did the same to them. 37 Finally, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said." (33-37) Jesus' suffering and death (20:18-19) is told in parable form with a not-so-subtle warning to the religious leaders (41). HCSB: p. 1655: 21:33-41 "The landowner represents God; the vineyard stands first for Israel (Is 5:1-7), then Jerusalem, then the kingdom; the tenant farmers represent the Jewish leaders; the slaves, the OT prophets; the son, Jesus.  Because the Jewish leaders refused to give God the fruits of righteousness that He demanded and because they rejected and murdered His Son, God would destroy them, take His kingdom away from them, and entrust it to Jesus' disciples."

V. The Son Rejected (38-39)

      "But when the tenant farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance!' 39 So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him." (38-39)

A. The Plot "they said among themselves," The Bible makes clear that the plot to crucify Jesus was a conspiracy rather than the scheme of any one individual. John 11:53 makes this clear "So from that day on they plotted to kill Him."

B. The Motivation "'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance!"  The substance of Jesus' inheritance is crucial to our understanding His mission.  It was the title deed to salvation and thus the eternal destiny of all humanity. The Jewish leaders, represented by the tenant farmers in this parable, wanted to hold on to their place, manner of worship, and distinction as 'God's chosen people'. Jesus didn't come to 'destroy' all that but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) In the great historical irony, the Jewish leaders desire to protect their 'place' by killing Jesus (John 11: 47-53) resulted in their own destruction and the destruction of their house of Worship, the Temple.

VI.       The Son Vindicated (40-45)

      "Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?" 41 "He will completely destroy those terrible men," they told Him, "and lease his vineyard to other farmers who will give him his produce at the harvest." 42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.  This came from the Lord and is wonderful in our eyes? 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its fruit. [44 Whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whoever it falls, it will grind him to powder!]" 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they knew He was speaking about them." (40-45) HCSB: p. 1655: 21:42-44 "Jesus quoted Ps 118:22-23, the same psalm from which the people described in Mt. 21:9 drew their expressions of praise.  The image of a stone that was rejected as worthless by builders but later used as the cornerstone-the most important part of the structure-foreshadowed the fact that though Jesus was rejected by the Jewish leaders, He would be vindicated by God and would become the focal point of God's kingdom.  Verse 43 interprets and applies the parable of the vineyard owner: God would take His kingdom away from the Jewish leaders and entrust it to Jesus' disciples.  Verse 44 alludes to Is 8:14-15 and Dn 2:34, 44-45.  In Isaiah, the stone is Yahweh over whom the people of Israel stumble, fall, and are broken.  By identifying Himself as the stone, Jesus strongly implied His deity.  In Daniel, the stone symbolized a powerful kingdom that would destroy all others and endure forever.  The OT allusion thus describes Jesus' deity and kingship and the destruction of all who reject Him."