After Jesus cleansed the temple, He preached and taught in the temple. The first thing He did was to warn the chief priests and the rulers of Israel, the Kingdom of God—the promised Messianic Kingdom—the Kingdom of heaven was going to be taken away from them and given to a nation that would bear fruit.
This “nation” which Jesus spoke was the church—which comprised of believing Jews and gentiles. Dispensationalist preachers refuse to believe this, in-spite of Jesus Himself being the One who prophesied it.
WHOSE ESCHATOLOGY DO WE BELIEVE IN?
Jesus warned the rulers of Israel that the kingdom will be taken from them, and given to another nation which is the church, comprising of Jewish and gentile believers.
The old covenant temple-the physical one, would be destroyed and a new covenant temple-the body of Christ would be raised up, not made up of marble slabs or stones; but made of living stones which are the sons and daughters of the most-high God. These are those who repent and obey the gospel and thus being born from above have become the sons and daughters of God.
Jesus warns the chief priests and the rulers of Israel of the coming judgement. Jesus made it plain and clear that the chief priests would be replaced by the apostles, and old covenant Israel would be replaced by new covenant Israel—which is another nation—the church (believing Jews and gentiles) and He speaks of this through a parable.
THE PARABLE OF THE VINEYARD
Matthew 21:33-44 — “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a pit for its winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went on a journey. When the harvest time was near, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his portion of the crop.
But the tenants seized his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first, and they treated them the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and get his inheritance!’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will utterly destroy those evil men! Then he will lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him his portion at the harvest.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? For this reason I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and the one on whom it falls will be crushed.”
The vineyard spoke of natural Israel. The vine is a symbol to show the fact that God took Israel out of Egypt and carried them on His wings to bring them unto Himself. He led them across the Jordan and planted them into the land of Canaan.
Exodus 19:4-6 — ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I lifted you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. And now, if you will diligently listen to me and keep my covenant, then you will be my special possession out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine, and you will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites.”
WHO ARE THE TENANTS?
verse. 34 — When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit.
The tenants were the chief priests and rulers of Israel—the overseers of the nation, who were given responsibility of the Kingdom and they failed to bear fruit. The servants sent to gather fruit were the prophets of old. God was expecting a yield and at harvest time, He sent His servants to the tenants to receive the produce—and God has a similar expectation of each one of us today.
verse. 35-36 — And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them.
The prophets were killed by the rulers of Israel and their religious systems. Isaiah was literally cut in half and most of the prophets were martyred by the Jewish nation. The Greek word for respect is “entrepo,” which is, to reverence a person / to turn about.
verse. 37 — Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ (Matthew 21)
Luke 20:13 — Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I will send my one dear son; It may be they will reverence My Son.’
The Son appears here, not in his character of Redeemer, but in that of a preacher—a messenger demanding the fruits of the vineyard. The expression, “It may be they will reverence My Son,” is designed to teach the almost unimaginable guilt of not reverentially welcoming God’s Son.
INVENTION OF JESUS?
This parable is not an invention of Jesus or something that was fictitious. Jesus is dealing with a parable in relation to the writings of the prophet Isaiah which is the vision of the Vineyard and recorded in Isaiah chapter 5. The reason we may not understand the prophetic nature of what Jesus spoke is because we do not know and understand the writings of the prophets.
Isaiah 5:1-2 — I will sing to my love – a song to my lover about his vineyard. My love had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He built a hedge around it, removed its stones, and planted a vine. He built a tower in the middle of it, and constructed a winepress. He waited for it to produce edible grapes, but it produced sour ones instead.
VISION OF ISAIAH
This vision of Isaiah is a picture of Israel. John, in his gospel quotes Jesus, saying to His disciples, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” Jesus tells His disciples that He is true Israel and we must understand that was what the prophets foretold. Not only is He the true Vine but He also chose His disciples to be new wineskins to carry the new wine of the kingdom.
Matthew 9:17 — And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the skins burst and the wine is spilled out and the skins are destroyed. Instead they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved.”
The Kingdom will be taken from the old and given to a new nation that will bring forth fruit—grapes, and not wild grapes. As always, God is looking for fruit. Even today, the Lord is looking for a new wineskin people who are humble and spirit filled, knowing and obeying Him. These are those who are not bound by religion, rituals and are not building their own systems and kingdoms.
SONG OF THE LAMB
Isaiah began this vision by saying that it is a song sung by the Lord, which is also called the Song of the Lamb. The book of Revelation talks about the saints—the first century believers—who sang the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. These were prophetic songs speaking of the last days and the end of the old covenant, and the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom and the birth of the new covenant.
Isaiah 53 is the prophecy of the suffering Servant of the Lord who laid down His life as a Lamb, to take away the sin of the world. This was the song of the Servant of the Lord—the Son of God and He sang this song through Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit of the Lord spoke prophetically through the prophet concerning the vineyard of the Lord.
The language used here by the spirit of Christ was regarding Babylon, and Jesus spoke in similar language, when He prophesied the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem by the hands of the Romans.
Isaiah 5:2 — He built a hedge around it, removed its stones, and planted a vine. He built a tower in the middle of it, and constructed a winepress. He waited for it to produce edible grapes, but it produced sour ones instead.
GOOD GRAPES AND BAD GRAPES
God redeemed Israel out of Egypt and gave them the land of Canaan and expected them to live righteous and godly lives. He gave them the law and his commandments, and caused them to be His instruments to bring light to the nations.
They were called to bear fruits of righteousness in the earth. The good grapes are righteousness, peace and joy; the nature of the people in the Kingdom of Christ.
Romans 14:17 — For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
God not only saw Israel as a Vine but He also planted it with His mighty right hand for His Son. [Psalm 80:8-17]
Psalms 80:15 — And the vineyard which your right hand has planted, and the branch that you made strong for yourself.
In the second part of the Parable of the Vineyard, we will look at the rest of the prophecy of Christ and it’s fulfillment.