“Hear another parable: there was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country….” Matthew 21:33-46 (Cf. Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19)
This parable of Jesus was spoken as a warning to the religious leaders of the Jews. The people of Israel were God’s planting, His vineyard. God had redeemed them and made them His own people. The chief priests, scribes and elders were like the wicked vinedressers in this parable.
They were entrusted with the task of caring for God’s people by teaching them from the Word of God and leading them in worship and in service to God. But when God sent His servants, the prophets, to call the people to repentance, the prophets and their message were rejected. Some were even mistreated and killed. God sent John the Baptist to prepare His people for the coming of their Messiah. John called upon all to repent and be baptized that they might receive forgiveness from the Lord God, but the religious leaders of the Jews rejected John and his baptism (cf. Luke 3:1ff.; 7:29-30; Mark 1:1ff.).
Finally, God sent His own beloved Son; but He and His Word were rejected of them too. Their Christ they handed over to Pontius Pilate to be crucified. The religious leaders of the Jews were to be building the kingdom of God by rightly teaching the Word of God and preparing the people for the coming of their Messiah and Savior; but they laid aside and rejected the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus Christ (Psalm 118:22). Instead of pointing people to their Savior, they rejected and killed the very Son of God!
Unless they repented, they faced eternal destruction and torment in hell for their rejection of Christ Jesus (cf. John 3:18,36; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Because these leaders of God’s people rejected Christ, God put others in charge of His flock, faithful shepherds who would feed God’s flock with the pure Word of God (cf. Jeremiah 23:1-4).
Pastors today can take admonition from this parable of Jesus as well! They are to faithfully proclaim the doctrine of the Apostles and Prophets – the true Word of God – and they are to faithfully hold up Christ Jesus and His redemptive work as the central teaching and cornerstone of the Christian Faith. Christian congregations, too, must take great care to build upon Christ and His Word, lest they forsake the only true foundation and set aside the Chief Cornerstone, which is Christ their Savior.
Bring those into Thy fold who still to Thee are strangers; guard those who are within against offense and dangers. Press onward with Thy Word till pastor and his fold through faith in Thee, O Christ, Thy glory shall behold. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #485, Verse 7)
[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]