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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE WICKED HUSBANDMEN

Matthew 21:33 Hear another parable: there was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine-press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. (Read Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, & Luke 20:9-19)

Jesus gave this parable, as well as the parable of the two sons, in answer to the question posed by the chief priests and the elders of the Jewish people, who asked, by what authority doest Thou these things, and who gave Thee this authority (Matt. 21:23b)? Being the spiritual leaders of Israel, they had access to the complete word of God, should have recognized Jesus as the Son of God, and must have accepted Him as the promised Messiah. However, because of their selfish, worldly interpretation of God's word, they failed to do so. This parable illustrates their error. It also tells us today that we, too, can deny Jesus as the Son of God.

It is well known that Palestine is exceptionally well suited for growing grapes. Not only was there a good local market for this agricultural product, but it was also a good commodity to trade with other countries in the area. As such, this was probably a good investment for agricultural property owners. Vineyards, being so well known, were very good examples to use in a parabolic teaching. In this parable we find a landowner planting a vineyard in order to grow and harvest grapes. No doubt he developed the vineyard, as it should be. The owner hedged it round about (enclosed it with plantings used as fencing), digged a wine-press in it (a place where grapes could be trodden and grape juice collected and stored), and built a tower (an elevated observation stand where keepers could watch for animals that may eat or damage the crop or for thieves that may enter and steal the harvest). Finally, the householder (owner) let it out to husbandmen (rented it or turned it over to "sharecroppers"), and went into a far country (leaving the entire vineyard investment in the hands of husbandmen to maintain, cultivate and harvest the grape crop).

At the proper time of grape harvest, the householder, the owner of the property, sent three servants to the vineyard to meet with the husbandmen and receive his portion of the grape crop. But when the servants arrived, they were beaten, stoned, and at least one was put to death. The householder sent other servants, and they received the same severe treatment. Learning of the treatment of his servants, the owner sent his son (Mark 12:6 says his only, well-beloved son), thinking that they will reverence my son. However, when the son arrived, he too was slain by the husbandmen, thinking that if there were no heirs they could steal his inheritance. Completing the parable, Jesus then asked the chief priests, scribes, and elders this question in order for them to understand the lesson being taught: When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They replied, the householder would destroy those wicked men and let the vineyard to other husbandmen that would rightly divide the fruit with the owner. Realizing their answer was correct; Jesus then explains that they, themselves, were the wicked husbandmen of the parable. He does this by quoting Psalm 118:22, the stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. With this explanation, the Jewish leaders knew that when Jesus referred to the husbandmen in the parable, they perceived that He spake of them.

Understanding that the husbandmen of the parable represent Jewish religious leaders, the householder would be God, the vineyard was His church, the servants of the householder were His prophets, and the son fitly represented God's only begotten Son,Jesus Christ. Many good lessons could be developed from the comparisons made in this parable. However, one element of the parable stands out and warrants further mention - reverence for the Son, Jesus Christ. To reverence, is to worship, love and adore; holding in high, deep respect, and awe. As used in this parable, it means to revere God, or grant the same love, honor, respect, and to show the same reverence to His prophets and His Son, Jesus Christ. This, the chief priests, scribes, and elders of Israel refused to do. The Jewish leaders denied Jesus, and the prophecies that foretold His coming.

Do you revere God and hold the same respect for His Son? Have you accepted Jesus as the Son of God? Have you been baptized into His body, the church? Or, like the Jewish leaders, have you also shown irreverence toward God by denying His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Messiah, the Savior of the world, and your personal Savior? God is calling you today! Please don't reject Him! Please don't deny Him!