Click on the image to see it full-screen.
Gospel of Matthew 21: 33-46 (NIV)
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them in the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes’?
43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
Still in the presence of the chief priests and the elders of the people (see “By what authority?”), Jesus presented three parables. This is the second.
Parts of this parable that would have infuriated the chief priests and the Pharisees (verse 45) have not been recorded by Mark or Luke. Although their two Gospels included that the landowner would “give the vineyard to others” they did not elaborate. Only Matthew presents the consequence (verse 41b), “who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” And only in Matthew’s Gospel (verse 43) do we find: “… the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
Jesus’ message of redemption initially was only for “the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 10: 6). After his crucifixion and resurrection he commanded his followers to make disciples of all nations. He sent the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower them for that mission. We twenty-first century disciples are beneficiaries of the death of the-son-in-the-parable for we are the “other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time”. According to Jesus’ exposition, we are the people to whom the kingdom of God is given to produce its fruit.
Hear the obligation laid on us, the “other tenants”. We are to “give him his share of the crop”; we are to produce fruit. Our faith is not intended to be comfortable, a luxury resort where “I am OK”! We are workers in his vineyard, called to make disciples of all nations!