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!