Vineyard Of The LORD

INTRODUCTION: Jesus told more than one parable that included a reference to a vineyard, but this one was directed to the Jewish religious elite about their failure to honor the LORD and properly lead Israel. The murder of the son of the lord of the vineyard described in the parable was a portrayal of Jesus. He is the only begotten son of the LORD of the Vineyard, and not long after he gave this parable in Jerusalem, he was put to death by the Romans because of the husbandmen of Israel.

NOTE: All verses are from the American King James Bible.


A - ISRAEL WAS THE LORD'S VINEYARD

Psalm 80 "8 You have brought a vine out of Egypt: you have cast out the heathen, and planted it. 9 You prepared room before it, and did cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. 10 The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. 11 She sent out her boughs to the sea, and her branches to the river. 12 Why have you then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? 13 The boar out of the wood does waste it, and the wild beast of the field does devour it. 14 Return, we beseech you, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; 15 And the vineyard which your right hand has planted, and the branch that you made strong for yourself. 16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of your countenance. 17 Let your hand be on the man of your right hand, on the son of man whom you made strong for yourself. 18 So will not we go back from you: quicken us, and we will call on your name. 19 Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause your face to shine; and we shall be saved."

Isaiah 5 "7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry."

Jeremiah 12 "10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness."

COMMENTS: Psalm 80 provides a poetic description of how the LORD had brought his people Israel out of their bondage in Egypt, and established them in the pleasant land, like a wealthy land owner would lovingly clear the land and plant his vineyard to be a blessing to many, as it flourished and expanded. Israel's failure to honor the LORD of the vineyard resulted in their downfall by their enemies, and their position could only be restored by a genuine plea for mercy from the LORD. However, the majority of the children of Israel followed the pattern set by their ancestors over the centuries through the period of the judges and of the kings to stray far from the LORD. The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah were guided by the Spirit to record the results for the people of Israel as a nation, including rejection of God by their religious leaders.


B - THE PROPHETS OF GOD WERE SERVANTS SENT TO THE VINEYARD

Matthew 21 "33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and dig a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to farmers, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the farmers, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the farmers took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did to them likewise."

Mark 12 "1 And he began to speak to them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and dig a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to farmers, and went into a far country. 2 And at the season he sent to the farmers a servant, that he might receive from the farmers of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4 And again he sent to them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. 5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some."

Luke 20 "9 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to farmers, and went into a far country for a long time. 10 And at the season he sent a servant to the farmers, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the farmers beat him, and sent him away empty. 11 And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. 12 And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out."

COMMENTS: Jesus was being challenged by the religious leaders in Jerusalem, because they were jealous of how he was influencing many of the Jews. He answered some of their questions by giving them a question of his own, or by a parable such as this one that had followed some other exchanges of conversation. All three gospel accounts of this parable record the same general content, and the slight variations between them give us cause to believe that the focus is not on the number of "servants" of the owner, or exactly how they were treated. The failure of the nation, and especially of the religious leaders, was that they considered that all of their blessings belonged to them for the works they had done. The fact was that all their prosperity was because the LORD of the vineyard was the originator of the flourishing fruit; and he deserved all praise, honor, and glory from the husbandmen who manage his vineyard.

While Judah was in captivity in Babylon, the LORD began to work in the hearts of some of the children of Israel to bring repentance and restoration to his devastated vineyard. Daniel 9 "4 And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; 5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from your precepts and from your judgments: 6 Neither have we listened to your servants the prophets, which spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 O LORD, righteousness belongs to you, but to us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries where you have driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against you."

And near the end of the captivity, the LORD spoke through another prophet to warn the captives not to reject his mercy in restoration as their fathers had done in previous times. Zechariah 1 "1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD to Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 2 The LORD has been sore displeased with your fathers. 3 Therefore say you to them, Thus said the LORD of hosts; Turn you to me, said the LORD of hosts, and I will turn to you, said the LORD of hosts. 4 Be you not as your fathers, to whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus said the LORD of hosts; Turn you now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor listen to me, said the LORD."


C - THE LORD SENT HIS SON TO THE VINEYARD

Matthew 21 "37 But last of all he sent to them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers? 41 They say to him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard to other farmers, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons."

Mark 12 "6 Having yet therefore one son, his well beloved, he sent him also last to them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7 But those farmers said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be our's. 8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the farmers, and will give the vineyard to others."

Luke 20 "13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. 14 But when the farmers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. 15 So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do to them? 16 He shall come and destroy these farmers, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid."

COMMENTS: Even though Israel was subject to the idolatrous Romans in the time of Christ, they did have the rebuilt temple for worship of the true God, and they taught in their synagogues from the scriptures. Their sin as a people was not so much in that they worshipped idols of false gods, but it was in the form of the sins that affect many "good" people even in our present time. The teaching among the Jews had become a form of righteousness without true faith and trust in the LORD, and the power thereof.

Isaiah 29 "13 Why the Lord said, For as much as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." This was written centuries before the time of Christ, as the prophet Isaiah wrote concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, before Judah went into captivity.

Later, Ezekiel was among the captives from Judah in the land of the Chaldeans when he wrote as directed by the Holy Spirit. Ezekiel 33 "30 Also, you son of man, the children of your people still are talking against you by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that comes forth from the LORD. 31 And they come to you as the people comes, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear your words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness. 32 And, see, you are to them as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear your words, but they do them not." What an interesting comment about a pleasant voice and the sound of beautiful music that had no real influence.


D - THE STONE THE BUILDERS REJECTED

Matthew 21 "42 Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I to you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spoke of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet."

Mark 12 "10 And have you not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: 11 This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? 12 And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way."

Luke 20 "17 And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? 18 Whoever shall fall on that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them."

COMMENTS: Jesus quoted from Psalm 118, verses 22 and 23 to show how his appearance at this time was in fulfillment of prophecy, and that those who reject him would not have part in the Kingdom of God. With this closing statement after the parable, the chief priests and the scribes wanted to apprehend Jesus because they knew they were the object of his vineyard parable. but they took no action at that time for they feared the crowd that was there. Many believed Jesus was a prophet of God and would have protected him. However, at the time appointed by the LORD, Jesus was given over to the Romans and was crucified because of the vociferous demands of the Jewish religious leaders.

Even the chosen apostles did not stand by Jesus until after the resurrection, but then Peter and John showed the power of the Holy Spirit within them. They boldly faced the religious leaders and gave direct application to the risen Christ from that same portion of Psalm 118. Acts 4 "8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said to them, You rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the weak man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nothing of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it."

Then in Peter's first letter to the church, he provided even more depth of meaning for the precious "cornerstone" especially for those who are called to be the people of God by his mercy. 1 Peter 2 "6 Why also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on him shall not be confounded. 7 To you therefore which believe he is precious: but to them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." By the sovereign choice of the LORD, not all of the people of his vineyard of Israel have received mercy, but others have been added to the people of God because of faith in Christ our Cornerstone. So, we who have received mercy should be eager to show forth praise to him for his marvelous light of life within us.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

LORD, your patience and mercy are so evident when the record is reviewed of how far your chosen people wandered from you despite having the Holy Scriptures and the messages you sent through the prophets of God. Isaiah's metaphoric description that the vineyard of the LORD of hosts was the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant, makes me pause to thankfully consider that I am now among the people who were not formerly your people. When you examine my heart and life I want you to find fair judgments, not oppression, and the righteousness that only you can give me. I want to be always aware that I too can easily fall short of doing what is in your Word, which I have been blessed to hear, if I allow myself to be drawn away by covetousness. By your Spirit in me, I want to have more than just an appearance of trust and love for Christ my Cornerstone. The Jewish leaders knew your parable was about them, but they had become so convinced of their own righteousness through their works that they had hatred for you. I thank you for giving discernment to those who search the scriptures so as not to be led astray by those who are "husbandmen" of your vineyard, but do not obediently make sure that the proper portion of fruit returns to you as LORD of the vineyard. When I realize how the Son of God became that precious Cornerstone of Psalm 80, it is truly marvelous to me. Through your grace and mercy, LORD, help me to be firmly grounded on the foundation you have laid in your great love. Amen.

Published 9 June 2016