Matthew 21:39

The vineyard is a favourite image in the Bible, and the mention of it by Christ would call to mind in his hearers the Old Testament illustrations of Israel. But more than Israel the nation must be intended by our Lord, because the vineyard is to go on after the destruction of the Jewish state. Our thoughts are therefore directed to the kingdom of heaven, partially realized in Israel, more fully realized in the Christian Church, but always a spiritual vineyard.

I. GOD HIMSELF FOUNDS KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. The owner of the vineyard has it properly planted and all its arrangements completed before he sends husbandmen into it. They have not to begin in the wilderness. God does not behave like the Pharaoh who ordered the Israelites to make bricks without straw. He plants. Therefore he has a right to look for fruit.

II. GOD ENTRUSTS THE WORK OF HIS VINEYARD TO MEN. There is work for God to be done in his kingdom. This is a high privilege, and it carries with it a grave responsibility. God will not have the just return for all his gifts if his husbandmen are not faithful in his service. The Jewish leaders were God's husbandmen. So are Christian workers today.

III. GOD EXPECTS FRUITS FROM HIS VINEYARD. God gives freely; but he looks for a return. It is not that he needs anything. But he does not desire his work to be wasted. He asks for grapes where he has planted a vine. This, then, is the one question for the Church, - Is it bearing fruit? By so doing it can glorify God (John 15:8).

IV. THE MESSENGERS OF GOD HAVE BEEN SHAMEFULLY TREATED. Evidently the servants represent the prophets of ancient Israel, ending with John the Baptist, who was beheaded, though not by the Jews. The reason for this ill treatment is here explained. It is selfishness. The leaders of Israel governed for their own advantage, and not for the glory of God. The leaders of the Church have too often shown a self-seeking spirit, and therefore they have rejected God's true servants, such as Savonarola, Huss, Latimer, Wesley.

V. THE ADVENT OF CHRIST IS A MARK OF GOD'S LONG SUFFERING PATIENCE. The owner of the vineyard would try a last means. He would see if the husbandmen would reject his son. It was a great risk to run; but the fruit was precious, and the vineyard was worth rescuing from those who usurped the rights of ownership. God would not east out Israel till Christ had come. But now Christ has come to us as God's last Messenger.

VI. THE REJECTION OF CHRIST IS A FATAL SIN. After the husbandmen had killed the heir to the estate, no more patience could be shown to them. They had filled up their cup of guilt to the brim. They had rejected the last and greatest message from their Master. To be cast forth and destroyed is their rightful doom. This doom came upon the leaders of Israel in the overthrow of Jerusalem by Titus. It awaits those false and traitorous leaders of the Church who repeat the sin of the Hebrew hierarchy. It awaits all who work in the midst of the privileges of Christendom without rendering any fruit to the glory of God.

VII. THE DOOM OF THE FAITHLESS IS FOLLOWED BY THE APPOINTMENT OF NEW WORKERS. Gentiles took the place of Jews. God's work cannot stand still. He will have fruit - if not through our agency, then by other means. When the official leaders of the Church are unfaithful, God sets them aside, so that, though their doom is postponed, they are really no longer entrusted with any powers by God. Then he raises up men from outside the ranks of office - a John Bunyan or a George Fox. Thus the vineyard is saved, and God has the fruit of true service. - W.F.A.

There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard.
Expository Outlines.
I. A REPRESENTATION OF THE JEWISH CHURCH AS REGARDS ITS PRIVILEGES AND OBLIGATIONS. "There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, etc.

1. The comparison employed. Palestine abounded in vineyards. This was planted; there was not one on the spot previously. He had to expend capital to bring it under cultivation.

2. The engagement entered into — "Let it out to husbandmen."

3. The returns anticipated — "Receive the fruits of it."


1. The messengers sent to them, and the manner in which they were treated.

2. The crowning act of clemency on the one hand, and of cruelty on the other.


1. A striking prediction quoted — "Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures," etc.

2. The important inference declared — "Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you," etc.

3. A solemn warning uttered — "And whosoever shall fall on this stone," etc.

(Expository Outlines.)

1. The greatest privilege a man can enjoy is to have the kingdom of God entrusted to him.

2. The greatest sin a man can commit is to reject Christ.

3. The darkest doom is that of those who are guilty of this greatest sin.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)


1. They were in the vineyard — Israel — and in no heathen land. No small mercy that we live in a Christian country.

2. They were husbandmen — men of office and influence, entrusted with an honourable work under a wise and good master. A great mercy to be not only in the vineyard, but called to work for God there.

3. They were paid for their work.

4. Though unfaithful, they had been long borne with. Divine forbearance a great mercy.

5. Special messengers were sent to them from time to time to stimulate and encourage them, etc.


1. They neglected their work.

2. They missed the purport of their office, which was spiritual.

3. They had killed the messengers.

4. At last they filled up the measure of their iniquity by killing the heir. Being servants, they had come to regard themselves as the owners and lords of God's heritage. Under their husbandry the vineyard had become a scene of moral ruin.


1. God, though merciful, was not unobservant of their conduct.

2. He had often inflicted minor and temporal punishments on themselves and the nation.

3. Now they were to be wholly extinguished.

4. The punishment was unexpected; they despised its cause.

5. It was complete. They lost their place and nation, and were scattered abroad.Learn —

1. To consider and value God's mercies (Psalm 106:12-14; Romans 12:1).

2. To study our reception and use of them.

3. To reflect specially on the greatest of all (2 Corinthians 9:15).

4. To remember that we too must give account.

(J. C. Gray.)

What is said of Israel may be said of men in all ages — "It might have been presumed that they would treat kindly the Son of God." From

(1)the divinity and glory of His nature;

(2)the perfect excellence of His character as a man;

(3)the reasonableness of His claims;

(4)the condescending kindness of His intentions;

(5)His known ability to save;

(6)His ability to destroy as well as to save;

(7)their necessities.Conclusion —

1. The sinner's final ruin is unnecessary.

2. His ruin will be self-induced.

3. Wanton.

(D. A. Clark, A. M.)

I. Show what "letting out" doth imply or denote.

1. Negatively. This letting the vineyard doth not denote that any people have a lease sealed to them of their church state, church ordinances, and church privileges: no, all are but tenants at will. We hold all our spiritual privileges at the will and pleasure of the Lord of hosts, who may give us warning and turn us out of all when He pleaseth. And it doth not imply that any people buy and pay for any spiritual blessings and good things which they possess; no, we have all freely, church and church privileges, the gospel, ordinances, and promises, without money and without price. We have no rent, no tribute to pay, but the tribute of praise, thanksgiving, and fruitfulness unto God.

2. Negatively.a. Letting denotes God's entrusting a people with the great blessing of the legal Church.b. Letting implies that a Church, the Word of God, and ordinances, are not man's own proper or natural right or inheritance. We are but stewards entrusted with these things,c. Letting out to husbandmen signifies a mighty trust is committed to such.d. Letting out implies that if men do not bring forth unto God that holy fruit which He expecteth, they must be called to an account for it.

II. To whom may the Church or vineyard of Christ be said to be let?

1. Principally to the pastors, teachers, and such who are, or ought to be, helps of government.

2. In some sense it may be said to be let also to every member; for every member is a hired servant of Christ, and all have their proper work appointed by Him.

3. In a remote sense it is let to all that accept the invitations of the gospel.

III. What fruit is it that God expecteth?

1. The fruit of faith and conversion.

2. The fruit of good works.

3. Fruits good in quality anal quantity.

4. Fruit according to the cost and pains God hath been at.

5. Fruit according to the time of the vineyard being planted.

6. Fruit in due season.

7. Fruit according to gifts and grace received.

8. Fruit according to the places and stations wherein God hath set us.

(Benj. Keach.)

David, Jesus, John
Bethany, Bethphage, Galilee, Jerusalem, Mount of Olives, Nazareth, Zion
Cast, Caught, Death, Dragged, Driving, Forth, Killed, Seized, Slew, Threw, Vine-garden, Vineyard
1. Jesus rides into Jerusalem upon a donkey
12. drives the buyers and sellers out of the temple;
17. curses the fig tree;
23. puts to silence the priests and elders,
28. and rebukes them by the parable of the two sons,
33. and the husbandmen who slew such as were sent to them.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 21:28-44

     4538   vineyard

Matthew 21:28-45

     7555   Sadducees

Matthew 21:33-39

     6231   rejection of God

Matthew 21:33-41

     1025   God, anger of
     5438   parables

Matthew 21:33-43

     6710   privileges
     7512   Gentiles, in NT

Matthew 21:33-44

     2309   Christ, as judge
     6223   rebellion, of Israel

Matthew 21:33-46

     4208   land, divine responsibility
     7135   Israel, people of God
     7552   Pharisees, attitudes to Christ

Matthew 21:37-39

     5701   heir

The Stone of Stumbling
Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.'--MATT. xxi. 44. As Christ's ministry drew to its close, its severity and its gentleness both increased; its severity to the class to whom it was always severe, and its gentleness to the class from whom it never turned away. Side by side, through all His manifestation of Himself, there were the two aspects: 'He showed Himself froward' (if I may quote the word) to the self-righteous
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Coming of the King to his Palace
'And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2. Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto Me. 3. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4. All this was done, that it might he fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5. Tell ye
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The vineyard and Its Keepers
'Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34. And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

A New Kind of King
'All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass.'--MATT. xxi. 4, 5. Our Lord's entrance into Jerusalem is one of the comparatively few events which are recorded in all the four Gospels. Its singular unlikeness to the rest of His life, and its powerful influence in bringing about the Crucifixion, may account for its prominence in the narratives. It took place probably
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

June the Twenty-First Room for the Saplings
"Children crying in the temple, saying Hosanna!" --MATTHEW xxi. 1-16. Children's voices mingling in the sounds of holy praise! A little child can share in the consecrated life. Young hearts can offer love pure as a limpid spring. Their sympathy is as responsive as the most sensitive harp, and yields to the touch of the tenderest joy and grief. No wonder the Lord "called little children unto Him"! They were unto Him as gracious streams, and as flowers of the field. Let the loving Saviour have our
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

Christ and the Unstable.
TEXT: MATT. xxi. 10-16. WE have lately seen from several examples that what is properly to be regarded as the suffering of the Saviour, that is, His pain on account of sin, and of the opposition which it offered to His divine work, did not begin merely with the time which, in a stricter sense, we indicate as His period of suffering, but accompanied Him from the beginning of His earthly life, and more especially during His public career. We shall consider this to-day more closely in connection with
Friedrich Schleiermacher—Selected Sermons of Schleiermacher

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xxi. 19, Where Jesus Dried up the Fig-Tree; and on the Words, Luke xxiv. 28, Where He Made A
1. The lesson of the Holy Gospel which has just been read, has given us an alarming warning, lest we have leaves only, and have no fruit. That is, in few words, lest words be present and deeds be wanting. Very terrible! Who does not fear when in this lesson he sees with the eyes of the heart the withered tree, withered at that word being spoken to it, "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever"? [2949] Let the fear work amendment, and the amendment bring forth fruit. For without doubt, the
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

A Sermon to Open Neglecters and Nominal Followers of Religion
If the whole of us were thus divided into two camps, and we could say these have made a covenant with God by sacrifice, and those on the other hand are still enemies to God by wicked works, looking at the last class we might still feel it necessary by way of personal application to make a division among them; for although all unbelievers are alike unpardoned and unsaved, yet they are not alike in the circumstances of their case and the outward forms of their sins. Alike in being without Christ, they
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 13: 1867

Another Royal Procession
When our Lord was here on earth, he was a humble man before his foes, a weary man and full of woes, and only now and then did some glimpses of his native royalty burst forth from him; he had now and then a day in which his regal rights were assumed and his royal position was claimed. He is gone from us now as to his actual presence, but he is with us spiritually, and his spiritual presence here is not unlike what his bodily presence was in the days of his flesh. For the most part, the glory of his
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 18: 1872

The Withered Fig Tree
Flippant persons have spoken of the story before us in a very foolish manner. They have represented it as though our Lord, being hungered, thought only of his necessity, and, expecting to be refreshed by a few green figs went up to the tree in error. Finding no fruit upon the tree, it being a season when he had no right to expect that there would be any, he was vexed, and uttered a malediction against a tree, as though it had been a responsible agent. This view of the case results from the folly
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 35: 1889

Assuredly, this honor paid to our Lord was passing strange; a gleam of sunlight in a day of clouds, a glimpse of summer-tide in a long and dreary winter. He that was, as a rule, "despised and rejected of men", was for the moment surrounded with the acclaim of the crowd. All men saluted him that day with their Hosannas, and the whole city was moved. It was a gala day for the disciples, and a sort of coronation day for their Lord. Why was the scene permitted? What was its meaning? The marvel is, that
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 37: 1891

Sermon for Palm Sunday
How a man ought in all His works to regard God alone, and purely to make Him his end without anything of his own, and shall freely and simply perform all these works for the glory of God only, and not seek his own, nor desire nor expect any reward. Wherewith he may do such works without any self-appropriation or reference to time and number, before or after, and without modes. How the Divine Word speaks and reveals itself in the soul, all in a lofty and subtile sense. Matt. xxi. 10-17.--"And when
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler

"Because the Carnal Mind is Enmity against God, for it is not Subject to the Law of God, Neither Indeed Can Be. "
Rom. viii. 7.--"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Unbelief is that which condemns the world. It involves in more condemnation than many other sins, not only because more universal, but especially because it shuts up men in their misery, and secludes them from the remedy that is brought to light in the gospel. By unbelief I mean, not only that careless neglect of Jesus Christ offered for salvation, but that which is the
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

PROPHECY. Isaiah iii. 13; liii. "Behold, my servant shall deal prudently; he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: so shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
William Paley—Evidences of Christianity

How to Work for God with Success.
Son, go work to-day in my vineyard.--MATT. xxi. 28. Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.--LUKE xiv. 23. I am to speak of some needful qualifications for successful labor; and I say:-- First, that there are certain laws which govern success in the kingdom of grace as well as in the kingdom of nature, and you must study these laws, and adapt yourself to them. It would be in vain for the husbandman to scatter his seed over the unbroken ground or on pre-occupied soil. You must plough
Catherine Booth—Godliness

Synopsis. --A Clearer Conception of Miracle Approached. --Works of Jesus once Reputed Miraculous not So Reputed Now
IV SYNOPSIS.--A clearer conception of miracle approached.--Works of Jesus once reputed miraculous not so reputed now, since not now transcending, as once, the existing range of knowledge and power.--This transfer of the miraculous to the natural likely to continue.--No hard and fast line between the miraculous and the non-miraculous.--Miracle a provisional word, its application narrowing in the enlarging mastery of the secrets of nature and life. At this point it seems possible to approach a clearer
James Morris Whiton—Miracles and Supernatural Religion

Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.
(from Bethany to Jerusalem and Back, Sunday, April 2, a.d. 30.) ^A Matt. XXI. 1-12, 14-17; ^B Mark XI. 1-11; ^C Luke XIX. 29-44; ^D John XII. 12-19. ^c 29 And ^d 12 On the morrow [after the feast in the house of Simon the leper] ^c it came to pass, when he he drew nigh unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, ^a 1 And when they came nigh unto Jerusalem, and came unto Bethphage unto { ^b at} ^a the mount of Olives [The name, Bethphage, is said to mean house of figs, but the
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Barren Fig-Tree. Temple Cleansed.
(Road from Bethany and Jerusalem. Monday, April 4, a.d. 30.) ^A Matt. XXI. 18, 19, 12, 13; ^B Mark XI. 12-18; ^C Luke XIX. 45-48. ^b 12 And ^a 18 Now ^b on the morrow [on the Monday following the triumphal entry], ^a in the morning ^b when they were come out from Bethany, ^a as he returned to the city [Jerusalem], he hungered. [Breakfast with the Jews came late in the forenoon, and these closing days of our Lord's ministry were full of activity that did not have time to tarry at Bethany for it. Our
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Finding the Fig-Tree Withered.
(Road from Bethany to Jerusalem, Tuesday, April 4, a.d. 30.) ^A Matt. XXI. 20-22; ^B Mark XI. 19-25; ^C Luke XXI. 37, 38. ^c 37 And every day he was teaching in the temple [he was there Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but he seems to have spent Wednesday and Thursday in Bethany]; and every night { ^b evening} he went forth out out of the city. ^c and lodged in the mount that is called Olivet. [As Bethany was on the Mount of Olives, this statement leaves us free to suppose that he spent his nights there,
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

In Reply to the Questions as to his Authority, Jesus Gives the Third Great Group of Parables.
(in the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, a.d. 30.) Subdivision A. Introduction ^A Matt. XXI. 23-27; ^B Mark XI. 27-33; ^C Luke XX. 1-8. ^c 1 And it came to pass, on one of the days, ^b they [Jesus and the disciples] come again to Jerusalem: ^a 23 And when he was come into the temple, ^b and as he was walking in the temple [The large outer court of the temple, known as the court of the Gentiles, was thronged during the feasts, and was no doubt the part selected by Jesus and his apostles when
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

In Reply to the Questions as to his Authority, Jesus Gives the Third Great Group of Parables.
(in the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, a.d. 30.) Subdivision C. Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. ^A Matt. XXI. 33-46; ^B Mark XII. 1-12; ^C Luke XX. 9-19. ^b 1 And he began to speak unto them ^c the people [not the rulers] ^b in parables. { ^c this parable:} ^a 33 Hear another parable: There was a man that was a householder [this party represents God], who planted a vineyard [this represents the Hebrew nationality], and set a hedge about it, and digged a ^b pit for the ^a winepress in it
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The First Day in Passion-Week - Palm-Sunday - the Royal Entry into Jerusalem
At length the time of the end had come. Jesus was about to make Entry into Jerusalem as King: King of the Jews, as Heir of David's royal line, with all of symbolic, typic, and prophetic import attaching to it. Yet not as Israel after the flesh expected its Messiah was the Son of David to make triumphal entrance, but as deeply and significantly expressive of His Mission and Work, and as of old the rapt seer had beheld afar off the outlined picture of the Messiah-King: not in the proud triumph of war-conquests,
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Second Day in Passion-Week - the Barren Fig-Tree - the Cleansing of the Temple - the Hosanna of the Children
How the King of Israel spent the night after the triumphal Entry into His City and Temple, we may venture reverently to infer. His royal banquet would be fellowship with the disciples. We know how often His nights had been spent in lonely prayer, [5077] and surely it is not too bold to associate such thoughts with the first night in Passion week. Thus, also, we can most readily account for that exhaustion and faintness of hunger, which next morning made Him seek fruit on the fig-tree on His way to
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Third Day in Passion-Week - the Events of that Day - the Question of Christ's Authority - the Question of Tribute to Cæsar - The
THE record of this third day is so crowded, the actors introduced on the scene are so many, the occurrences so varied, and the transitions so rapid, that it is even more than usually difficult to arrange all in chronological order. Nor need we wonder at this, when we remember that this was, so to speak, Christ's last working-day - the last, of His public Mission to Israel, so far as its active part was concerned; the last day in the Temple; the last, of teaching and warning to Pharisees and Sadducees;
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

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