Friday, October 28, 2011

THE PARABLE OF THE VINEYARD


"Then He (Jesus) began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now at harvest time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant, and at him they threw stones, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many others, beating some and killing some.

Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But those vinedressers said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.'

So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard to others.” – Mark 12:1-9


In the Gospel of Luke we have this added insight at the end of this parable:

“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.” – Luke 20:19

Unlike most of the parables of Jesus, this one is fairly straightforward. The house of Israel is the vineyard. How do we know this? Because of what we see in Isaiah:

"For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are His pleasant plant.” - Isaiah 5:7


The man in the parable who planted the vineyard is God, the Father. The servants and messengers of the owner of the vineyard are the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Elijah, etc.). The son of the owner is Jesus, and the vinedressers are the priests and the scribes of the Jewish faith (as seen in Luke 20:19 above).

So, essentially, Jesus says that God planted the house of Israel as a beautiful vineyard. Those to whom He entrusted the vineyard (the House of Israel) were dishonest, selfish and disobedient to the Father. Many of the prophets that God sent to them (the Jews) were persecuted, rejected and put to death. As a last resort the Father sent His Son (Jesus) and these disobedient people killed him as well. What is the Father’s response to this? “He will give the vineyard (the house of Israel) to others.” (Mark 12:9)

So, if Jesus says that the Father took the "House of Israel" away from the Jews and gave it to others, who is He talking about? To whom did God give the House of Israel to? The Church.

As Paul affirms:

“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” - Romans 9:8

“For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter." - Romans 2:28-29

"Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring [seed]. It does not say, “And to offsprings [seeds],” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring [seed],” who is Christ." - Galatians 3:16

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” – Galatians 3:29

What does Jesus think about the claim of racial Jews to the title of “Israel” or the “Seed of Abraham”? In the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus discusses this very point with the Pharisees who claimed to be the offspring (or seed) of Abrahm. Here is what Jesus says in response to their claim:

"I know that you are offspring [seed] of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children [seed], you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did." - John 8:37-40

As followers of Christ, we are now the true Israel of God. We have a new covenant with Him that He will be our God and we will be His people and He will write His laws upon our hearts. (See Hebrews 8) The old covenant is history. It has been fulfilled in Christ.

"But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another." – Hebrews 8:6-7

"By calling this covenant 'new,' he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear."- Hebrews 8:13


As Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Matthew 5:17)

So, did Jesus fulfill the Law? Yes, he most certainly did. He accomplished all that the Father sent Him to do. (see John 17:4 and 19:30) This is why the old covenant is over and done. "It is finished!" and now we have a new covenant, a better one:

"This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant." – Hebrews 7:22


The purpose of Jesus' parable of the vineyard is to teach that Israel is now taken away from racial Jews and is now given to anyone who receives the Son of God as Lord and Messiah.

Mediate on what it means to now be called the children of God, because that is what you are (see 1 John 3:1).

You and I are the new Temple, the Living Sacrifice, the Holy Priesthood and the Israel of God.

We who were once not a people are now the people of God (1 Peter 2:10). Glory to His Name!
-kg

8 comments:

brettact2 said...

Hi Keith,

You might want to check the definition of the word 'fufill' in the Greek for Jesus' comment in the Sermon on the Mount. There are 2 very different definitions, which means the one that harmonizes with the context of His surrounding comments is the one to use. While it's not typically done, it's the accurate way to expound it.

God bless,

Brettact2

Keith Giles said...

Jesus says in Matthew that he did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. At the end of his ministry, in John 17:4, he says that he accomplished all that the Father had sent Him to do.

"I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do." (John 17:4 ESV)

Yes. It is "Finished"!

Judith Lee said...

This post sounds like "replacement theology." God says that the feasts are His, and they will be celebrated forever, and that the land of Israel is His forever as well. The church does not replace Israel's function in the world, otherwise why is Revelation chapters 5-22 mainly addressed to the Jewish nation. I believe they will be the "Kingdom of Heaven" on earth during the Millennial reign of Christ on the earth, and the Church will reign eternally with Christ in the "Kingdom of God." Replacement theology has been a contributing factor in Christian anti-Semitism from the early centuries. We have been grafted into the olive tree, we are not the olive tree.

Keith Giles said...

Judith, it's not replacement theology, it's fulfillment theology, and it's fully supported by the scriptures.

Your reference to Revelation is only valid if you believe that this book is primarily about future events. I don't believe that it is mainly about future events, but about events that were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

As the very first verse of the Revelation of John tells us:

"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him TO SHOW TO HIS SERVANTS THE THINGS THAT MUST SOON TAKE PLACE. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John." (Revelation 1:1 ESV)

This is not anti-semitism. As Paul says, "For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh." (Romans 9:3)

Paul said this because he grieved that so many of the Jewish nation rejected their Messiah. This is why the house of Israel was "given to another" as Jesus said.

There is only one "Israel" of God and that group is not a racial group but a group of people who are circumcised of the heart and fully trust in Jesus, the Messiah.

Jesus does not have two Brides. He has one and it is the Church.

Your comment about the feasts being "forever" are echoed about the Temple of God as well. But we know that there hasn't been a physical temple in Jerusalem since 70 A.D.

So, is God a liar? Did God mess up? No! His Temple is the Church. We are being built up living "Living Stones" into a "Living Temple" and a "Holy Priesthood".

Those terms "forever" in the Old Covenant are spiritual and are shadows of the realities where are now manifest in the Body of Christ today.

It's not the shadow which is forever, it is Christ and His Church where will reign forever.

Judith Lee said...

The vineyard represents the spiritual privilege Israel had, and the intimate fellowship we can enjoy with God through Christ. Jesus said in John 15,1: "I am the true Vine and you are the branches.

Again, I believe that Revelation has layers of meaning: for example,the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. They refer to literal churches in the day in which John lived, as well as the historical Church with different strengths and weaknesses, that match perfectly with the history of the Church in the order they are written. For example, the Church today would definitely fit the description of the last, the Laodicean church. (See Chuck Missler's teaching on the seven churches for more in-depth study.) Note,too,the word "servant/s" is used 14 times in Rev.(used in ref. to Israel, not the Church, where "sons" is used.) After the rapture at the beginning of Chapter 4, the rest of REVELATION is Hebraic in its symbolism and idioms. The Gentile church would not know or have access to the 285 quotes from the Old Testament in Revelation.
I often find your point of view enlarging my paradigms, but in this case, I believe your view is smaller than the whole of God's revelation through Old and New Testament.

It is true that Christ has only one bride, but Jehovah God has a wife! The covenant that was made "with Abraham" was actually made between the Father and the Son while Abraham slept. Can He go against something that He promised to Himself? He made that covenant not with man, who would be incapable of keeping it, but within the Trinity.
Israel is still in the plan of God, not that we understand it all, but your dismissal of their role in the new heaven and earth is not taking the whole of Scripture into account. Isaiah 66 talks about the new heaven and the new earth, and the Jews and Gentiles functioning together but in different roles. There has always been a faithful remnant and God will keep and protect them. (See the whole of Romans 11, where it states that if the root is holy, then so are the branches, and for us not to boast against against the branches. The full mystery of the one new man is still not understood, but will be in the years to come. I believe that Christ is the fulfillment as you have said, but I believe it is less than the completion of His-story. It is convenient to wrap it all up as finished, but we ain't seen nothin yet. Christ was speaking of His earthly suffering on the cross when He said, It is finished.) Out of God's mercy, the day of His vengence will come, so that many will yet be saved, Jew and Gentile alike.

Aussie John said...

Keith,

Excellent article. Judith's comments only serve to accentuate the need for a Bible centered, rather than a man centered traditional understanding of God's workings as revealed in Scripture.

So many who claim to be standing on the solid ground of Scripture are really standing on the shoulders of men and their theories and interpretations, some of which are extremely plausible, which makes them all the more deceptive.

Judith Lee said...

I had another thought today about the scripture I mentioned earlier about the feasts the Jewish people celebrate being forever. When Moses received revelation about building the tabernacle and the feasts from God, he saw those patterns in heaven. So perhaps the feasts and the Temple in heaven are forever.

The passages in Revelation that are allegorical are clearly stated to be so, and those things that John didn't state were allegorical shouldn't be interpreted as allegorical. That is man's idea of interpretation, not the Holy Spirit's, in my humble opinion.

Keith Giles said...

Judith- there are several times in the OT where God declares that something is "forever" but often these are meant to indicate that the duration of time will be very long, but not necessarily "without ending". For example, there's a verse that says that the Temple in Jerusalem will endure forever, but obviously that physical temple is gone and has been for over 2,000 years now. Of course, the physical temple is a shadow of the actual temple which is the Church. So, the shadows have ceased but the actual realities they pointed to are forever. The feasts pointed to Christ and now that he has fulfilled them they as shadows are uneccessary. What endures forever is Christ.