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"The Parable Of The Tenant Farmers: 
History In Review"

The Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost

Matthew 21:33-43  

Rev. Wayne Dobratz  

I. The Vineyard belongs to God–Cf. Isaiah 5:1-7; Ps. 80:8ff.; Jer. 2:21

A. The Landowner and the "Beloved" of Isaiah 5 symbolize the Lord. Text, v. 1

B. The Renters are the Leaders of Israel–Matt. 23:2ff.

C. The journey is the time between the Ascension and the Judgment Text, v.1 Cf. Mark 13:34ff.


II. The Owner expected sweet wine, but saw bloodshed.

A. See Isa. 5:2,4 & 7

B The death of prophets led to the murder of God’s Son, text vv.34-38; Matt. 23:31-37; Luke 13:33ff.; Acts 7:52; Heb. 11:36ff.

C. The blood is still flowing–religious wars--persecution of Christians, etc. Then, as now, much blood is shed in the name of religion.  


III. Rebellion’s result

A. Judgment--a rejected stone crushes the rebels. text v.41a, 42 & 44–Matt. 22:6ff.; 23:35ff.; Isa. 5:5-7; Luke 19:41ff.; 21:22ff.

B. Transferring the vineyard to other renters who will share the crop with the landowner. Text, 41b; Matt. 21:45-46; Luke 13:28ff.; Luke 21:24; Acts 18:6. 

Albert Barnes: Last of all …—Mark adds that this was an only son, greatly beloved. This beautifully and most tenderly exhibits the love of God in sending his only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die for people. Long had he sent the prophets, and they had been persecuted and slain. There was no use in sending any more prophets to the people. They had done all that they could do. God had one only-begotten and well-beloved Son, whom he might send, and whom the world "ought" to reverence even as they should the Father, John 5:23. God is often represented in the Bible as giving his Son, his only-begotten and well-beloved Son, for a lost world, John 3:16-17; 1 John 4:9, 14; Rom. 8:3, 32; Gal. 4:4.  

Disciples Study Bible: To reject Jesus is to forfeit membership in God’s kingdom. Children of Abraham cannot be numbered with God’s elect if they renounce Jesus and avoid repentance for sins. As throughout His history with Israel, God chose the faithful remnant for His kingdom. The remnant is in Christ. Remnant teaching in the Bible shows that election is not a determinism which disregards human free will and choice.  

John MacArthur: Jesus, in effect, had said to the chief priests and elders,

"You are the men! You are the wretched vine-growers who, by your own declaration, deserve a wretched end for beating and killing the vineyard owner’s servants and then killing his son. Don’t you realize that the owner is God, the vineyard is His kingdom, the servants were His prophets, and I am His Son? You have just judged yourselves guilty of condemning to death not only the prophets but even God’s own Son."

With regard to killing the prophets, later the same day Jesus said to the unbelieving Jewish leaders, in particular the scribes and Pharisees, "You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers" (Matt. 23:29-31).  

God had prepared a place of great beauty and blessing and then graciously given stewardship of it to His people Israel. It was a place of promise, hope, deliverance, salvation, and security. But Israel misappropriated all those blessings for herself, robbing God of the gratitude, glory and honor due Him. She persecuted the prophets He patiently and lovingly sent to call her to repentance and forgiveness. Jewish tradition held that Isaiah had been sawed in two with a wooden saw (cf. Heb. 11:37). 

From Scripture we know that Jeremiah was thrown into a pit of slime, and tradition held that he was eventually stoned to death. Ezekiel was rejected, Elijah and Amos had to run for their lives, Micah was smashed in the face by those who refused to hear his message (1 Kings 22:24), and Zechariah was actually murdered in God’s own Temple (2 Chron. 24:20-22; cf. Matt. 23:35). Old Testament history bore witness to their murderous hearts, whose wickedness would culminate in killing the Son of God.  

Through this parable and its explanation Jesus presented one of His clearest claims to divinity. The parable even alludes to the detail of His being crucified outside the city of Jerusalem (cf. Heb. 13:12), just as the vineyard owner’s son was cast out of the vineyard before being murdered.  

Jesus also made it clear that the Jewish leaders who rejected Him were without excuse, that, like the evil vine-growers, they knew He was God’s Son but refused to accept and honor Him as such. They wanted Him dead not because He was evil and ungodly but because He threatened their evil and ungodly control of the Temple and of the entire Jewish religious system.  

Throughout history and still today many people refuse to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord not because of lack of evidence but because they refuse to believe the evidence. They do not believe simply because they do not want to believe. 

Rev. Wayne Dobratz  

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