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Bible: What Does Matthew 21:28-46 Teach Us About Jesus' Parables?
Jesus and His Disciples
Why did Jesus speak in parables?
Matthew 21:28-46--Three Kingdom Parables
The Lord continues to teach in parables, telling three in rapid succession: the Parable of the Two Sons (vv. 28-32), the Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers (vv. 33-46), and the Parable of the Wedding Feast (22: 1-14).
He directs the following message toward the chief priests and Pharisees; in essence, “You are doomed.”
In the first parable, Jesus relates a story about a man who commands both of his sons (each separately) to go to work in his vineyard (vv. 28, 30a).
The first youth refuses, but then changes his mind and goes (v. 29); the second fellow accedes to his father’s wishes in word, but disobeys in practice (v. 30b).
Christ asks His audience, “Which one did the father’s will?” After they answer Him correctly, He convicts them of sin, asserting that the originally disobedient (the tax collectors and harlots) believed John’s message and thus will enter the kingdom before the originally obedient (the priests and Pharisees) who disbelieved John and did not repent (vv. 31-32).
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Following close on the heels of the first, the second parable speaks of a conscientious landowner who prepared his vineyard well before leasing it to vinedressers and going on a journey (v. 33; cf. Is. 5:1; Ps. 80:8).
[In Luke 13:6-9 and 20:9-19, Jesus employs parables similar to the one found in Isaiah 5: 1-7.
The Well-Beloved (the LORD, the Vinedresser) does everything necessary for Israel's benefit, so that He might rightly expect good things from him (the vineyard) [vv. 1-4a.]
Instead, He receives wickedness (vv. 4b, 7).
Therefore, He recounts His proposed judgment upon Israel because of this bad "produce" (vv. 5-6).
Several woes follow, indicating these judgments (vv. 8, 11, 18, 20-23).]
He sends two sets of servants to receive its fruit at vintage-time, but the tenants either mistreat or murder them all (vv. 34-36).
Jesus relates that the owner, thinking that the vinedressers would honor his son, sent him (v. 37).
Having their hearts set on seizing the inheritance without giving a second thought to showing the owner the least respect, the tenants not only conspire to kill his heir but they execute their plan flawlessly.
That is, except for one detail: they forget about the owner’s response to the murder (vv. 38-40).
Seemingly unaware at the time that Jesus is referring to them as the vinedressers, the chief priests and Pharisees fall into the trap of announcing the very treatment that they themselves will receive for killing the Messiah (v. 41).
As always, Christ cites Scripture—this one being a familiar one (Psalm 118:22; see also Isaiah 28:16)—in order to enlighten His audience. He establishes three points:
(1) He identifies Himself as the rejected stone, and the Jewish leaders as the builders;
(2) He asserts that He will become the chief cornerstone, the most important part of a new building (the Church) [cf. Eph.2:20]; and
(3) He announces that the sovereign God had planned the entire amazing affair, both the rejection and the triumph (v. 42).
Finally, He makes plain His application of the verse, declaring God’s rejection of this present generation of Jews in favor of a future nation that the LORD will cause to bear fruit (v. 43).
[Dispensationally speaking, a Jewish nation will receive the kingdom at the end of the seventy weeks of Daniel.]
Destruction will come upon the one who falls on (i.e., kills) this stone (Jesus); however, the stone (namely, the King of Daniel’s fifth kingdom—“the stone cut out without hands”)—will grind to powder every kingdom upon which it falls (v. 44; cf. Dan.2:44-45).
At last, the Pharisees understand the Lord’s point and desire to arrest Him again; however, their fear of the common people restrains them from doing so (vv. 45-46).
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