Jesus told a parable about his vineyard, premeditated murder, the destruction of Jerusalem, and giving the kingdom of God to people who will produce. The Jewish leaders replied, “May this never be!” They understood the parable. They felt special. Isn’t this the way we think? “This could never happen to America. This could never happen to the church, right?
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 20
Vineyard, May This Never Be! (Luke 20:9-19)
By Delbert Young
Vineyard, May This Never Be (Luke 20:9-19)
Scriptures: Luke 20:9-18, Isaiah 5:7, Isaiah 5:5, Psalm 80:8-11, Jeremiah 7:25-26, Matthew 23:35-38, Matthew 21:43, Luke 20:19
We are looking at the Passion week of Jesus Christ also called the “Greatest Week in History.” It’s the week that changed the world. Notice it’s history. It’s not some guru attempting to get you to believe something never taking place. Jesus is a fact! God came down into human history. Jesus was born – Christmas. He died – Easter. Jesus isn’t a philosophy. You can accept him or reject him, but Jesus is real.
Our study today is about Jesus responding to those who rejected him. Have you ever been rejected by people you love? It hurt, right? Have you ever rejected someone who loved you? You hurt them, right? Have you ever rejected Jesus? We have if we’ve ever rejected his truth. Even one of his closest followers rejected Jesus. It’s never good to reject anything about Jesus. The day would have likely be Wednesday of the Greatest Week in History and was a very busy day for Jesus. Recall, while teaching in the temple, Jesus was asked by Israel’s leaders who’d given him authority to do the things he was doing. After the confrontation and refusing to directly answer them…
Luke 20:9-18 HE WENT ON TO TELL THE PEOPLE THIS PARABLE: “A MAN planted a VINEYARD, rented it to some FARMERS and went away for a LONG TIME. At harvest time he sent a SERVANT to the TENANTS so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. “Then theOWNER of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send MY SON, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘THIS IS THE HEIR,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and KILL THOSE TENANTS and GIVE THE VINEYARD TO OTHERS.” When the people heard this, they said, “MAY THIS NEVER BE!” Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
The parable is also told in Matthew 21 and Mark 12. As we make a composite of using them we’ll gain a fuller understanding. It’s a story about the premeditated murder of Jesus happening in two days. It’s also about the punishment and killing of those who murdered the Son of God. He lets them know he knows their plans and isn’t running and hiding. Jesus knows what we are planning also. That’s scary, but Jesus went on talking about the vineyard being given to “others” and about falling on a stone and the stone falling on you. What’s that about?
The parable is straight forward and not difficult to interpret. Jesus made it this way so everyone would get it. They did. Let’s place the characters. First, it talks about a man, also called the owner,who planted a vineyard. The land of Israel is divided into flat land and hillsides. Grain crops were planted in the flat land. Vineyards were planted on the hillsides. Matthew’s gospel gives great detail of how the man labored sparing no expense and even building a watchtower (Mat 21:33). While this was common, it is also straight out of their scriptures. So, who and what do the owner and thevineyard represent?
Isaiah 5:7 The VINEYARD of the LORD ALMIGHTY is the house of ISRAEL, and the men of JUDAH are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.
The best way to interpret scripture is to allow the scriptures to interpret scriptures. You’ll never miss it when doing this and it’s how Jesus used scriptures. The man/owner in the parable is clearly the Lord Almighty. And the vineyard is clearly Israel and the people of Judah.
Isaiah 5:5 Now I WILL tell you what I AM going to do to MY VINEYARD: I WILL take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I WILL break down its wall, and it will be trampled.
The Lord God takes ownership and responsibility for doing this. God said this to Israel through Isaiah just prior to their being taken into Babylonian captivity in 586 BC. They would immediately know what Jesus was saying and where Jesus was going with this parable. There are many places the vineyard is referenced (Psa 80:8-17; Jer 2:21; 7:25-26, etc.) and all point to the same conclusion, i.e. destruction by the Lord Almighty himself. Let’s look at one more.
Psalm 80:8-11 You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. It sent out its boughs to the Sea, its shoots as far as the River.
It goes on about destruction, but what I wanted to point out is how God gave them such wonderful privilege and opportunity. He brought them from Egyptian bondage, drove out the nations of Canaan, planted them, and they became great. It was such a beautiful land. If we make this applicable to us today, who is the vineyard? Did God not do the same for American? We’ve been given such privilege and opportunity. We’ve been blessed of God more than they. No nation in history has ever experienced the wealth and prosperity and opportunity America has, but what’s happening and why? Let’s see if we can learn something from this parable to perhaps avoid destruction.
We know who and what the owner and vineyard represent. Who are the tenant farmers who are to tend the vineyard? We don’t have to guess.
Luke 20:19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately,BECA– USE THEY KNEW HE HAD SPOKEN THIS PARABLE AGAINST THEM.
The nation’s leaders were given responsibility to tend the nation – high priests – their president, chief priests – the cabinet, Sanhedrin – their congress, teachers of the law – their Supreme Court. Do you think our nation’s leaders have a clue to where they are taking us and what they are bringing upon us by rejecting Jesus? We’ve been given such privilege and opportunity to live in this vineyard, yet we allow our leaders to turn our nation away from God and reject Jesus. What will happen? If we continue going this route, where will our nation be not long from now?
We know who the owner is, who the vineyard is, and who the tenants are. We have a few more characters. Who are the servants sent who were beaten, sent away and according to Matthew, killed and stoned (Mat 21:35-36)? They knew.
Jeremiah 7:25-26 From the time your forefathers left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I SENT YOU MY SERVANTS THE PROPHETS. But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their FOREFATHERS.’
The history of Israel recorded in the Old Testament is a history of resisting, beating, and killing God’s prophets. Isaiah was sawed in half. Jeremiah was beaten, thrown into a pit, and stoned to death. Zachariah was stoned to death.
Jesus said to those very leaders that very day,
Matthew 23:35-38 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, ALL THIS WILL COME UPON THIS GENERATION. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, YOU WHO KILL THE PROPHETS AND STONE THOSE SENT TO YOU, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. LOOK, YOUR HO– USE IS LEFT TO YOU DESOLATE.
There was no doubt to whom and what Jesus meant, but, how about you and me? Think a minute. Who are some men and women God sent you? Have you ever sliced up a preacher with your tongue? I have. Have you ever stoned a man or woman of God with your words? I have, but I’m learning to repent and keep my mouth shut and mind open. I’ve learned to turn off my television and my mouth. Jesus doesn’t take kindly to our attacking men and women of God, but I see something deeper. Our children hear us cut up and stone men and women of God. Unknowingly, we turn them from God and say it’s ok to reject Jesus and today’s children will be tomorrow’s leaders. If we turn our country back to God and Jesus and avoid destruction, it must begin with our children. Whatever we can do to bring our children back to God will bring our nation back to God. Do you agree?
Luke 20:13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send MY SON, WHOM I LOVE; perhaps they will respect him.’
Of course, the son whom I love is Jesus (Luk 3:22).
Luke 20:14-15 “But when the tenants SAW HIM, they TALKED THE MATTER OVER. ‘THIS IS THE HEIR,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
They saw him. They knew Jesus was the heir, the Son of God. They talked the matter over. John 11:47-53 and John 12:42-43 show this was heavily discussed. They feared Rome would smell an insurrection and take Israel’s privileges away. Also, some leaders believed but feared others would put them out of the synagogue “for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” They’d kill the Messiah to keep the vineyard and they’d do it in two days. Jesus told his own murderers he knew exactly what they were about to do, God knew what they were about to do, and then he told them what he and God would do to them.
Luke 20:15-16 …”What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people HEARD THIS, they said, “MAY THIS NEVER BE!”
They got it! Do we? Though they got it, they did nothing about it. Will we, or will we just say, MAYTHIS NEVER BE!”
There’s one more entity to the parable. Jesus said the owner would give the vineyard to others. Who is this? In Matthew’s account we read,
Matthew 21:43 “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.
Who would become the new custodians to tend the kingdom of God and God’s word and truth? Of course, it’s the Church – you and me. Jesus gave the apostles authority over demons and disease and to proclaim the kingdom (Luk 9:1-6). He gave the seventy-two others authority to heal, deliver, and proclaim the kingdom (Luk 10:1-12). The leaders of Israel were never given authority like this, but eventually it comes to every one of us in the body of Christ (1Co 12:12) forming the church. How are we doing? How are you doing?
They replied, “May this never be!” They felt special. Isn’t this the way we think? “This could never happen to America. We’re special.” To this Jesus responded,
Luke 20:17-18 JESUS LOOKED DIRECTLY AT THEM AND ASKED, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders REJECTED has become the capstone’? Everyone who falls onTHAT stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
Of course, Jesus is the stone the builders rejected (Acts 4:10-12; Isa 8:13-15; 28:16; Psa 118:22-24). He’s the capstone and the cornerstone (1Pe 2:6). The stone is not the emphasis. Rejecting the stone is.
Either falling on the stone or the stone falling on us is bad. Drop a clay pot on a stone and the pot is broken. Drop a stone on a pot and the pot is crushed. Do you remember what happened to Judas Iscariot? Acts 1:18 says he fell, evidently upon a stone, and his intestines burst out. Any way a person rejects Jesus will bring inescapable judgment.
In AD 70 it happened. The stone came, fell, and crushed the nation in the form of the Roman army. Thousands and thousands of Jews were killed, the temple was destroyed, their house was laid desolate – no priests, no Pharisees, no Sadducees, no animal sacrifices never again. They were crushed. It’s a fact of history, but what have we learned? Jesus is looking directly at us and we continue to say, “MAY THIS NEVER BE!”
Luke 20:19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him IMMEDIATELY,BECA– USE THEY KNEW HE HAD SPOKEN THIS PARABLE AGAINST THEM. But they were afraid of the people.
Sadly, many of our nation’s leaders today would just kill Jesus if they could. They say, “If we can get Jesus out of our schools and out of our politics we’d get our way.” The only thing stopping them is they are afraid of the people. There remain enough of us to vote them out, but the numbers are becoming smaller and smaller. The Jewish leaders succeeded in killing Jesus. Will our leaders succeed?
One more thought. How about you? What vineyard has God given you to tend – marriage, children, finances, occupation, influence. How are you doing? The owner is looking for fruit? I believe I am looking at some very good kingdom tenants. I believe we are good keepers of the kingdom.
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