Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to farmers…
I. GOD'S INTEREST IN HIS VINEYARD. The great truths of the Old Testament are from the prophets rather than from the priests. The grand progress of truth has depended upon these fearless men. The age without its prophet has been stagnated. The priesthood is conservative; prophecy, progressive. The true prophet is always great; truth makes men great. Only by a clear understanding of the accumulating prophecies of the Old Testament can we appreciate the Divine care. In this lesson as to the care of God for His vineyard, Christ has marked the distinction between the functions of the prophets and Himself. They had spoken as servants; He as the Son. In such a comparison is seen the transcendent revelation of God in Christ. He was the heir. The interests of the Father were identical with His own. It was in such a comparison that Christ declared the infinite grace of God in the incarnation and its purpose.
II. THE IRREVERENCE OF MEN. The whole attitude of God toward His Church is that of an infinite condescension and pity.
1. The attitude of these men toward the truth. The greatest conflicts have been between the truth of God and the personal desires of men.
2. This antagonism is manifested in the treatment of those who are righteous. In one sense he who accepts a truth becomes its personation, and as a consequence must bear all the malignity of those who hate that same truth. Witness the treatment of the prophets in evidence. Because Micaiah uttered that which was displeasing to the government of Israel he was scourged and imprisoned. Because the prophet Jeremiah gave an unwelcome prophecy to his king, although it was the word of the Lord, he was thrown into a dungeon for his courage. No better fate awaited the prophet Isaiah than to be sawn asunder by order of the ruler of God's chosen people. It was the high priest who obtained a decree for the expulsion of Amos from Jerusalem.
3. This antagonism to the prophets of the truth is only a lesser expression of a burning hatred toward God. The spirit of hatred to the prophets would result in the killing of the Son of God. Whether the truth or man or God stands in the way of this lust for power, the result is the same.
III. THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE. Repeatedly this truth is brought out in the life of Christ. "They sought to lay hold on Him, but feared the people." In these few words we recognize the corrective of the terrible accusation against human nature. If such a history is the expression of what is universal, then we must discern the fact that the truth is more safe in the hands of the many than of the few.
IV. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE OWNER OF THE VINEYARD. In the parallel account of this parable in Matthew, we read the question of Christ: "When the lord, therefore, of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?" In all history this same truth has been often witnessed. The rejecters of God are self-rejected from Him. The power that is not used for God is taken from us and given to those who will use it. There are two practical suggestions very intimately connected with this theme that we briefly notice. First: The greatest hindrance to Christ's kingdom may come from those who are the highest in the administration of its affairs. Second: The stupidity of wickedness. These very men who robbed God were robbing themselves. By planning to possess the vineyard they lost it. By attempting to keep the owner away they cast themselves out. God controls His own kingdom and Church. "The stone which the builders rejected, is become the head of the corner: this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes."
(D. O. Mears.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.
WEB: He began to tell the people this parable. "A man planted a vineyard, and rented it out to some farmers, and went into another country for a long time.