Deliniated Discourse

Wretches With a Wretched End

Matthew 21:28-46

But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ “And he answered and said, ‘I will, sir’; and he did not go. “And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, ‘I will not’; yet he afterward regretted it and went. “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The latter.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you. “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax-gatherers and harlots did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him. “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey. “And when the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. “And the vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. “Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. “But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ “But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.’ “And they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. “Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?” They said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES’? “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it. “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” And when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. And when they sought to seize Him, they feared the multitudes, because they held Him to be a prophet.

Jesus makes it perfectly clear, they are being replaced. We are still within the context of the Triumphal Entry To Typically Tragic Times. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, yesterday, humble and victorious, riding on a donkey, without bow or sword. The people, but especially the children, yelled, “Hosanna to the son of David, BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD,” (which is Psalm 118–Jesus quotes that too), Jesus entered the temple and overturned the tables of the money changers, and challenged the scribes, with Scripture, who have challenged him. Today Jesus went to find figs on a fruitless, fig tree and caused it to wither, and is now, once again, challenging the scribes and priests, who are challenging him.

Last time we saw the scribes and priests questioning Jesus concerning from where he received his authority, we are still in the immediate context. They fell headlong into the trap set by Jesus and his questions concerning John the Baptist. The chief priests questioned where Jesus received his authority, he wasn’t trained by them, he didn’t learn from them and he wasn’t even born into the proper tribe to teach in the temple. Remember the genealogy way back in Matthew chapter one, or even the people shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David?” Jesus was descended from Judah, not from Levi. Nevertheless, our Old Testament tutor has prophesied that the Messiah would be from Judah and the scribes and priests should have known this. Problem; they were looking for a warrior like David, not the humble king, mounted on a donkey, in spite of Scripture.

Now, explaining the scenario in which they find themselves, Jesus begins by asking a question and continues with a parable then asks another question. “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered and said, ‘I will, sir’; and he did not go. And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, ‘I will not’; yet he afterward regretted it and went. Which of the two did the will of his father?” This is what I call, rhetorical reasoning. Jesus, by asking them to answer questions concerning the parable, not only gets them thinking, but gets them to condemn themselves, like we saw earlier. It is absolutely, brilliantly beautiful, the way in which Jesus does discourse. Do not miss this! We’ve watered down the Scripture by ripping verses out of context and listening to these mega-church pastors, who cannot seem to string two verses together but promise health, wealth and happiness. Clinging to their words which sound good, they tickle our ears but are contradictory and cannot hold a candle to the rhetorical reasoning of Jesus Christ.

If you are a mega-church pastor and have a 24 hour radio station that plays several sermons stacked upon each other for hours on end, may I suggest to you that you should probably pay to have the greatest editor alive? Mega-church pastors contradict themselves sermon to sermon. They say things like, “this is your season, I believe and declare.” But then, “it’s just not your season,” if the health and wealth are absent. Which is it? You declared, in Jesus’ name, that “this is the season, I believe and declare, in Jesus’ name.” However, you also declared that it is “just not your season.” In real time, the sermons were weeks apart, but due to earthly editing, on the radio, these statements were seconds apart.

Jesus doesn’t contradict and has never lost an argument or debate. We need to know this and understand how Jesus speaks. He’s not a slick, snake-oil salesman but the greatest communicator of all time. “Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons!” I struggle greatly with writing about what Jesus has said because he says it best. The problem is that we don’t want the truth. We want the false promises of men, like the scribes and the chief priests. As the Jars of Clay song states, “All I am for all you are Because what I need And what I believe Are worlds apart.” We believe in false promises and the precepts of man, not focusing on the words of the master, in their proper context.

I can’t stress enough that my words are flawed, mega-church pastors’ words are very flawed and the world’s words are pure evil. Not only does Jesus teach truth, he does it beyond brilliantly and yet, in a way that everyone can understand. One does not need the Holy Spirit to understand what Jesus says, that’s a lie, a myth, today’s text is proof. However, before you call me out as a heretic, yes, one does need the Holy Spirit to act upon the words of Jesus. Nevertheless, Jesus speaks sublimely simple, even the scribes, who don’t recognize Jesus, get it. Notice the context.

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered and said, ‘I will, sir’; and he did not go. And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, ‘I will not’; yet he afterward regretted it and went. Which of the two did the will of his father?” Again, simple, sublime, but brilliant! Jesus demonstrates that it is not the words or intentions that are obedient but the actual actions. The first son said he would go but didn’t, the second said he would not go but later regretted saying that, and he went. Which one did the will of his father? The answer is easy, the second one. You and I and the scribes all got it correct. Not because we’re smart but because of the words and example Jesus used.

“‘Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The latter.’” Correct, they got it right. Jesus uses an example that is difficult to get wrong. Yet the example has very sharp teeth. We see the way in which Jesus teaches unfold. He uses a seemingly benign example, with which everyone is in agreement, but then applies the example to them.

“Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax-gatherers and harlots did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.”

For those of you keeping score between Jesus and the “leaders of the people,” I’ve lost count. But Jesus is undefeated and will remain as such. “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey. “And when the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. And the vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ “But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.’ And they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?”

I wasn’t there, thank God, but if I was, I would like to think that I would shut up somewhere around this time. But not the scribes and the priests, they, like David to Nathan, are astounded by the behavior of the vine-growers. As David was caught up in his own prominence and sin, that he failed to recognize Nathan was speaking of him in 2 Samuel 12, the priests and scribes have yet to put the pieces together.

“They said to Him, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.'” Would you look at that, the priests completely understand the parable, but not the application. They are indignant toward the vine-growers, as they should be, but they have yet to realize that Jesus is speaking of them, yet this is all about to change.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Did you never read in the Scriptures, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES?” Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.’ And when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. And when they sought to seize Him, they feared the multitudes, because they held Him to be a prophet.”

See the sublime string and consider the context. Psalm 118, Zechariah 9, et al, continue to tutor. Beyond the Old Testament allusions and quotes, and without the rhetorical reasoning and metaphorical meanings, Jesus plainly states, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.” Fruit is a metaphor, it’s implications are implicit, but the overarching theme is simply stated. Now mix in our Old Testament tutor and the rhetorical reasoning, metaphorical meanings and the greater context, seeing the sublime string and the reader understands; Jesus is the son of the vineyard owner, the slaves were the prophets, including John the Baptist and the vine-growers are apostate Israel, the scribes and priests and Pharisees and Sadducees and anyone else who holds to their teachings. Mega-church pastors and followers beware.

Now, because I try to teach nothing but how to read the Bible, often times I don’t dig deep into every word or phrase. I try to give a general overview and demonstrate how to, Consider the: Context, Aspirations of the Author, Genre, Expository Exegesis of Examples and Divide Rightly the Word. And in so doing, many things will get overlooked or ignored by me, with the hope that you will dig deep yourselves, using the CAGED method. Because, unless you are learning for yourself, you only know what you have been taught. My missives exist so that we can supplement the sermons of faithful pastors and supplant those of the mega-church pastor. We can mine for gold in our quiet times, approaching God’s words as we are, expecting to be changed.

Nevertheless, their are those times when I see a phrase that is difficult to understand. The overarching theme in this context is easy to understand. After all, while not accepting it, the scribes and priests understood it. However, this context contains a phrase with which, I have little doubt that people will struggle. This is precisely why I write to see the sublime string and consider the greater context. 9 times out of 10, the answer is found in either the context or in an expository exegesis of examples.

Do you struggle with the phrase, “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust?” Consider the sublime string–Psalm 118 is quoted, notice the context; “The LORD has disciplined me severely, But He has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; The righteous will enter through it. I shall give thanks to Thee, for Thou hast answered me; And Thou hast become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.” Discipline but not death–righteousness is the gate of the Lord. Jesus is righteousness, he is the gate and he has said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Come as you are, expecting to be changed, broken, humbled, disciplined. Fall on Jesus and be broken. The only alternative is for Jesus to fall on you and scatter you like dust as he has done to the scribes and priests.

 

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