This parable is particular because it highlights events that relate to the consummation of that Jewish age in which Jesus gives a snapshot of how the kingdom would be given to another nation, a spiritual one, one born of faith and not of natural lineage.
This parables comes on the heels of Jesus entry to Jerusalem and his confrontation with the Jewish leaders in the temple when they had kept out the less privileged and denied gentiles access to worship. He tells them that tax collectors and harlots would enter the kingdom before them.
Now he gives the parable of the vineyard to speak on events that border on eschatological events, relating to arrival of the Messiah in his kingdom. You will see that this parable has nothing to do with our time and future.
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?”
41 They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”
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.
So lets look at it again in brief;
- We see a landowner who planted a vineyard, hedged it in and dug a winepress in it and built a tower. It was pleasant, protected and profitable. He leased it out to vinedressers to gain the best from it. The landowner leaves and goes into a far country. At the appointed time he sent his servants to the vinedressers to receive its fruit.
- Instead of receiving fruit from the lease-holders, the servants met with violence from those entrusted with the vineyard. They beat one, killed one, and stoned another. The landowner responded by sending more servants, but they likewise met the same fate.
- The landowner then resorted to the idea of sending His son reasoning that they would respect him. When the vinedressers saw they saw the son, they reasoned that since he was the heir of the vineyard, that it would be good for them to kill him and seize his inheritance in order to claim it all for themselves. In the end they took him, cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.
Jesus asked them a straightforward question; “What will happen to the vinedressers?”
His answer would set them up to brace up the judgment that would fall on them. The landowner would miserably destroy the wicked men miserably. He would then lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render him the fruits of their seasons.
Did the Jewish leaders understand what Jesus implied? Yes.
“45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them.”
This is akin to what John the Baptist told them in Luke 3
7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
This is one of the parables that the Lord explains the meaning of the parable in the clearest form so that the audience would not be in doubt as to its meaning. He tells them that the stone which they rejected becomes the head of the chief cornerstone by the will of God.
Jesus is that cornerstone. He becomes the foundation upon which the kingdom is built.
The events of the parable were literally fulfilled in their rejection and crucifixion of Christ and upon His subsequent return in judgment upon the nation in A.D. 70. They persecuted and killed God’s sent ones including John the Baptist and the disciples, hunting them from city to city.
The destruction of the city by fire by the Romans in AD70 cannot be mistaken as it occurred in the same the way that various parables and visions highlighted years before it occurred. The kingdom was transferred to a new nation, one birthed in Christ who is the chief cornerstone. This new kingdom comprises both of Jew and gentile.
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,
(Ephesians 2:14,14; 3:6)
Now the kingdom is here and is flourishing in us and through us. The fruits of the kingdom are continually being released through the power of the Holy Spirit to the nations of the world. Halleluyah