Lesson 94: Tuesday at the Temple (cont'd)
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson #94. It's still Tuesday morning in our study. There was a lot recorded about what happened on Tuesday of passover week. It was the last week of Jesus' life upon this old earth; but, he taught and encouraged his disciples right down to the last moment. This is the second lesson on Jesus' activity at the temple on that Tuesday morning. There was a committee of the Sanhedrin that came to Jesus on Tuesday morning and began to demand: Who gave this authority? Jesus asked them about the baptism of John; whether it was from heaven or of men. To answer put them in a dilemma; if they said John's baptism was from heaven they knew that Jesus would ask them why they did not obey it. If they answered that John's baptism was not from heaven; they feared the people because the Jewish people in general considered John a prophet. So, they lied and said, they couldn't tell. Therefore, Jesus refused to honor their question about where Jesus got his authority. But while Jesus had their attention; he began immediately to teach them by parables. The first parable we considered had to do with two sons that were instructed by their father to go work in the vineyard. The first refused to go but later REPENTED AND WENT. The second one said he would go but then didn't go. Jesus asked for their input and let them decide which boy did the will of his father. They unanimously decided "the first", i.e. the boy who refused at first but changed his mind and went. Jesus gave the application in Matt. 21:31, "Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." Thus, Jesus likened them to the boy that said he would go to work and do the father's will but then refused to do the work. You see, the Jewish leaders were making claims to follow the heavenly Father; but in essence were refusing to follow.
Then while Jesus had the attention of this Sanhedrin council committee; he immediately began another parable, the parable of the wicked husbandmen. All three writers (Matthew, Mark and Luke) recorded the parable of the wicked husbandmen. We read all three accounts in our last lesson; but, we did not have time to discuss that parable. So, you need to get your eye back on that parable. Matthew's account is at the end of Matt. ch. 21. The "householder" in this parable represented God, the heavenly Father. The vineyard that God planted represented the Hebrew nation. The God of heaven had come down upon Mt. Sinai, given the 10 commandment law and established the Hebrew nation. Then God withdrew, i.e. the parable said, "went into a far country." God, the householder in this parable, let it out to husbandmen; i.e. he put tenant farmers in charge of the vineyard, called husbandmen in this parable; which represent here the Jewish leaders. Then, the householder in the far country, i.e. God, began to send servants to deal with the husbandmen. These servants were the prophets of the O.T. At the time of Jesus, God had NOT sent a servant or prophet for more than 400 years until John the Baptist had broken that silence in their generation. John like a number of the prophets, had been killed and shamefully entreated. For a quick review of these prophets, you might take a look at Heb. ch. 11. Finally, God, the householder, sent his son to deal with and reckon with the wicked husbandmen, i.e. Jesus, God's Son, was sent to the Jewish leaders. God, the heavenly Fathers had said, "they will reverence my son." But, the wicked husbandmen slew the son, casting him out of the vineyard, i.e. the Hebrew nation. They wanted his inheritance, i.e. the Jewish leaders would not give place to Jesus. They regarded the Jewish nation their property. They were in the process of throwing Jesus out, in that the council (here called the husbandmen) had decided, you will remember, that it was better "that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not." (John 11:50). This was spoken by the high priest that year. John said, "he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation..." And it happened only three days later, Friday of that same week. Jesus concluded the parable part in v.40 (Matthew's account) by asking the question: "When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?" Now, you must understand at this point; they had heard Jesus' parable and were fascinated with it and participated in it, in that, they (i.e. the Sanhedrin leaders) expressed judgment of what the lord of the vineyard would do to those wicked husbandmen when he returned (that's v.41). "They said unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their season." Thus, you must understand, at that point, the Jewish leaders did not understand the parable as applying to them. Jesus then began to give and to make more application of the parable. It was Only then that v.45 in Matthew's account said, "they perceived that he spake of them", i.e. it finally began to sink in that Jesus was describing them. Mien this began to come through to them, they got very upset and would have arrested Jesus on the spot; but, v.46 said, "they feared the multitude." However, let's back up and look at the application which Jesus made, v.42-44, in Matthew. Jesus told them that in the book of Psalm 118:22-23 this very thing was prophesied in these words: "The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner..." Now, look at v.43, Jesus said: "Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." Thus, the kingdom of God, the vineyard in this parable, the Hebrew nation, the 10 commandment law, etc.; would be removed and changes would be made, as they suggested in their answer to Jesus' question back in v.41. Now, take the time to think through what is implied in these words. First, the Hebrew nation was coming to an end. Secondly, another kingdom was being established. Both kingdoms, of course, belonged to God. Thus, God, the heavenly Father, could establish a new nation or kingdom, as it pleased him. The word "fruits" in this parable and in this discussion had reference to obedience and true worship, love, joy, peace, etc; a thing that God was entitled to just as a land lord of a vineyard would be entitled to the fruits of HIS vineyard.
Now, let's make two or three more observations as we close out on the parable of the wicked husbandmen. First of all, some might argue, as the argument is sometimes used with Judas; that they were doomed, in that, it was prophesied in the O.T. that they would come to this end, i.e. unjustly doomed. That is a misunderstanding. It's true that some were going to be doomed; those who pursued that course and refused to repent and accept Jesus as God's son. But, from the individual standpoint; you see, Jesus gave us this parable and said these things, trying to alert them to their sinful condition. The lesson was for their benefit so that they might repent and do the Father's will as was taught in the preceding parable. Notice what Jesus said in v.44 of Matthew's account, "Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." The stone here referred to is Jesus, the chief corner stone, "The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner..." (v.42 up above). When they rejected Jesus, they were breaking themselves, is the first part of the thought. But, when Jesus comes in judgment; then, they will be ground to powder, i.e. destroyed. So, these words of Jesus were in effect a warning to those who would continue to pursue that course. A second observation I would like for you to make is that the things Jesus taught here and on similar occasions were in many cases the scriptures the apostles used over and over in future weeks and in future months. For example, in Acts 4:11, when Peter at a future time was before this same council, Peter referred to this same scripture, i.e. Psalm 118:22, which said that the Stone which was rejected became the head of the corner. Thus, my point is this, you need to learn the things that Jesus taught to rightly understand the things that the apostle taught in establishing the new kingdom a few months later. Everything is interrelated. A third observation, you might make at this point is that this parable and it's application (Matt. 21:43); Jesus showed that another kingdom was going to be established, i.e. what you and I call the Christian age, and the Jewish kingdom was going to be removed. Thus, verifying in more literal terms; the preaching of Jesus and John the Baptist when they said, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." I trust that you are aware that the Jews are still looking for a messiah today, so they say. Also, many denominational people are still looking for the kingdom, so they say. Thus, in expressing these things; they show their ignorance of the scriptures. A fourth observation and association we might make here is this: in the sermon on the mount, Matt. 7:2, Jesus said: "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." I trust that you see this principle at work there in the temple on that Tuesday morning. When Jesus painted the picture of these Jewish leaders in his parable from an unbiased point of view; these leaders condemned- themselves and gave their own judgment: "He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen..." Finally, number five, if you have any qualms in your mind about the word "repent", i.e. what it means; look at the word in Matt. 21:29, where in talking about the son that said he would NOT work in the vineyard, "but afterward he REPENTED and went." Thus, it means: to reconsider and take the appropriate action. Thus, Jesus was trying to get those Jews, i.e. the Sanhedrin committee, to reconsider and take the appropriate action for their own benefit.
Now, you will remember, Jesus gave a third parable that is recorded only by Matthew. It starts at the beginning of Matt. ch. 22. If you'll turn there we'll read the third and last parable in this series that Jesus gave to the Jewish leaders on that Tuesday morning in the temple (Matt. 22:1-14) Are you ready? Beginning in Matt. 22:1, let's read. "And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one of his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gather together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how earnest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen."
It's not difficult to see that this parable of the marriage feast has some elements in common with the parable of the wicked husbandmen. It seems to pick up on the new kingdom part. Notice that the parable started off, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto...", and thus fits into a class of several other parables that we have examined before that have that same beginning; a description of the kingdom or church. It is very much like the parable that Jesus gave in the house of the chief Pharisee where Jesus was invited to eat bread, Luke 14:15-24. There, Jesus said, "A certain man made a great supper, and bade many...they all with one consent began to make excuse...! bought a piece of ground...I bought five yoke of oxen...I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." In Matt. 22:3, the king "sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come." The king sent forth another invitation; but v.5 said, "they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise." The few that was left took the kings servants, spitefully entreated them and slew them. In v.8 the parable said, "they which were bidden were not worthy." So, the king sent out new invitations to include all, "as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage." (v.9). The first group in the parable has reference to the Jews and the second group in the highways, etc., has reference to the Gentiles which were grafted in at the household of Cornelius as recorded in Acts ch. 10. Many, many guests were invited. "When the king came" (v.11) has reference to the Marriage Feast (Rev. 19:9-10), i.e. when Jesus, the King of the kingdom shall come the second time. The guest with no wedding garment represents that class of people who consider themselves Christians; but, did not prepare themselves according to Jesus' instruction. Thus, there will be some in the church that do not have suitable character. Notice, that their end is eternal torment, i.e. cast into outer darkness (v.13). The conclusion in v. 14 is that "many are called, but few are chosen." I trust you remember that was also the conclusion to the parable of the laborers in the vineyard back in the first 16 verses of Matt. ch. 20. It agrees with Jesus' statement in the sermon on the mount, Matt. 7:13-14. And, there's another good sermon title: MANY ARE CALLED, FEW ARE CHOSEN. I heard the story about a little boy who went to church and his mother was sick and couldn't go. So, she told him to listen and to tell her the preacher's text when he came home. As soon as the preacher announced his subject, the little boy left to play marbles with his friends. When he got home, his mother asked: what was the preacher's text? He said, many are COLD and a few are FROZEN. It's easy for us to hear the words, like this little boy did, and not understand the meaning. But, there is a GREAT message in those words that Jesus said, "many are called, but few are chosen." Not only is there a great message; it is one of the SADDEST messages that ever came from the lips of Jesus. It was like an invitation song that Tuesday morning in the temple and that message continues to echo down over the years of the Christian age. There's going to be a great marriage supper, a wedding feast, at the end of this age. In John 3:29, John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Bridegroom. John said, "he that hath the bride is the bridegroom." The church is referred to as the bride of Christ in Eph. 5:23 and in Rev. 22:17. Until our next lesson, have a good day