Jesus often used works of fiction to tell a truth.
Speaking of His authority, Jesus told another parable. In it, the identities of the fictional characters were only thinly hidden beneath the surface. He was talking about Himself and the religious leaders and everyone knew this.
The owner of a successful vineyard left on a long journey leaving the vineyard in the care of his employees. At vintage season, he sent a series of trusted leaders back for the profits. One by one they were beaten and sent away empty-handed. Finally, the owner sent his only son thinking that surely he would be respected. He was not. In fact, the evil vine-dressers killed him and threw his body out of the vineyard. Jesus then made the application with a question
“Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them?
He did not wait for an answer:
“He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.”
With these words, Jesus condemned the leaders who opposed Him and claimed to be the Son of God.
Israel—the Vineyard of God
Jesus’ metaphor was a vineyard—The People of God were God’s vineyard. This was not a garden of beauty; it was a business. The owner had responsibilities toward the vineyard and the workers in it. He also had the right to expect a profit. The vineyard produced healthy vines that in turn produced fine grapes. With a winepress, these grapes were processed into wine. There were storage facilities to process grape juices into new wine and stores of vintage wines. The vineyard was a business.
The business of Israel
Like a vineyard, the nation of Israel existed to do the business of the Kingdom of God in the earth. That business was clearly stated in Scripture. They were to function as “a kingdom of priests” to all of creation. Their job was to tell the world about Jehovah, the God who keeps covenant with mankind.
Toward this end, the vineyard (the nation) had to remain unspotted by the pagan world surrounding it. The worship of Jehovah was the primary expression and guardian of this holiness. Why? Because in addition to receiving and preserving the Word and Words of God, the promised Messiah, the Deliverer, the Lamb of God, must come from within the nation of Israel. Messiah was the chief product of the vineyard.
In the Fullness of Time
The historical record of the nation of Israel was a cycle of apostasy and renewal. Foreigners invaded time and time again, bringing the “vineyard” nearly to ruin. At the time of Jesus, Rome had conquered Israel. Rome was tolerant of all pagan religions—what was the problem with a few more gods? The worship of Jehovah demanded that only He be worshiped. Tension between the political rulers and the religious rulers marked the time of Jesus’ visitation.
The Temple of Compromise
Herod’s Temple was under construction at the time of Jesus. It was a Roman attempt to appease the Jews by rebuilding the Second Temple. Standing in the middle of this reconstruction project, Jesus proclaimed Himself as the Cornerstone of the true Temple. This Temple of compromise, erected with heathen funds and manned by a corrupted priesthood, would soon fall. The Temple was completed in AD 65 and destroyed in AD 70. In no uncertain terms, Jesus claimed to be the Cornerstone of the true Temple.
The Temple of God’s presence, resting secularly on Jesus the Cornerstone, still stands and will stand until the Plan of God is completed.
Then He began to tell the people this parable: “A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.’ But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.” And when they heard it they said, “Certainly not!” Then He looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone’? Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people — for they knew He had spoken this parable against them.
Exodus 19:5-6 NKJV
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
Psalm 118:22-24 NKJV
The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Lord Jesus, You are the cornerstone of my faith—not just my faith—my life! I rest securely on You the solid Rock. No matter how violent or relentless the storms that come my way, I will stand because You, the Cornerstone, the Sure Foundation will never be dislodged. Today, I am a worker in Your vineyard, the Church! I am a branch in You, the True Vine. Today I will draw sustenance from You, knowing that in time, I will produce the fruit You sent me here to produce. Be glorified in me, Lord Jesus, the Cornerstone!
Words and Music: Leon Patillo
I lay in Zion for a foundation, a Stone
I lay in Zion for a foundation, a Stone
A tried Stone, a precious Cornerstone,
A sure Foundation, A sure Foundation.
He that believeth shall not make haste.
Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God,
The Everlasting Father;
Wonderful, Counselor, the Prince of Peace,
Prince of Peace, Prince of Peace!
THE JESUS STORY SERIES
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