The Parables of Jesus: Day 12

The Vineyard Owner

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Today's Text: Matthew 21:23-46

In this study of the Parables of Jesus, we are reading many of the stories Jesus used to teach hearers about how to live as His followers. Each day we’ll read parables in their immediate context, focusing on a different category of parables each week. Then we will work through a series of questions to understand the meaning of the text and take to heart the “secrets of the kingdom.”

Editor’s Note: In this Parables study, Jesus Himself is telling us stories—stories He wants us to reflect on and process. Rather than asking our writers to write their own stories about Jesus’ stories, we thought it would serve you and the text better to provide questions to help you dig into the meaning of each day’s parable. If you find a parable or passage particularly confusing, stop and pray. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in His Word, and thank Him that we can know Him without knowing all the answers to our questions.

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Week 2: Parables about Repentance and Grace

Stories about other people often reveal things to us about ourselves. This week’s selection of parables all deal with themes of repentance and grace, and in them we see that Jesus meant for His parables to stir the hearts of His hearers. As you read, let these parables serve as a kind of mirror, and ask what Jesus is showing you that you might not have otherwise seen. Use the questions below to help.

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Day 9 Reading: Matthew 21:23-46

Questions:

1. What is the specific setting of Jesus’ parable about the vineyard owner, and how does the setting help us make sense of Jesus’ story?

2. What problem is Jesus’ parable responding to, and what is the parable’s outcome?

3. What is the central point of this parable? 

4. What was the audience’s response to hearing this parable? What is yours?

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  • I am dealing with some very challenging snd discouraging situations with Christian brothers and sister in NE Asia, and as I read this I see how the tenants did not recognize the authority of the master’s representatives, and prsecuted them. In the end the master settled everything. I am encouraged that we are not alone, and that Our Master will settle the affairs at the right time.

  • My first thought: how am I taking care of the kingdom of God and working to help it bear fruit? But then I realized this thought is missing the central character: the son, Jesus! He is the one who makes this all happen, not us alone. He is the cornerstone to be respected and honored and obeyed.

  • Allison Joy

    This is another one where I find the timing interesting. Jesus just told the pharisees a parable about the owner of a vineyard coming back and bringing justice to the vineyard keepers, who did not act respectfully. They realize that the vineyard keepers are them. They immediately do exactly as that parable says. You would think that, perhaps, they would stop and think about their actions. That the would say, “Wait if we kill him now, we’ll be acting exactly like the men in the parable” and that they might delay, just to try to prove that Jesus was wrong. “See? We aren’t like them.” And yet, instead, they immediately turn on Him. How often are we like them, immediately taking offense at something, when instead we should be using to grow.

  • Churchmouse

    My simple thought on today’s parables : is God truly sovereign over all of my life or not? Do I trust His Word or not? Honest?

  • Verse 45. When I know that God and His Word are talking to me…what is my response? May it be one of “yes” obedience and actual follow through. Forgive my rebellious heart.

  • Daniella

    This helped me to understand the whole parable better:
    1) Landowner- God
    2) Vineyard- Israel
    3) Tenants/Farmers- Jewish Establishment
    4) Landowners Servants- The prophets who remained obedient and preached God’s word
    5) The Son- Jesus
    6) Other Tenants- Gentiles

    • Daniella Moore

      Beauty- God’s repeated appeal through his prophets to an unrepentant people. At first, I thought this father was crazy. Does he not know that these tenants will kill anything that comes to collect fruit (harvest). But he continues and he sends his son to collect the harvest.

      Harvest- What are we doing with the harvest? The vineyard can be further expressed as life. Do we think that we own this harvest? God owns the land (time/life), any fruit is his fruit. Any blessing on earth comes directly from him. Yet, in this parable, it says that he only asks for a portion (tithing/serving at your church, etc.). Are you saving the harvest for yourself or are you giving God a portion of that harvest as well as others ( Greatest Commandment: Love God and love others).

      Stone analogy- In verse 44 it talks about the stone analogy. The stone is God’s word. We can a) use the stone to build his church b) tear each other apart. How are we using God’s word?

      Just some further thoughts :)

      • Mari

        Daniella, thank you for taking the time to put this together so that I understand it better as well. I have always had problems with comprehension. I need to read and reread things all the time. Thank you it really helped me understand. Going to go back to it later again.

      • CG

        I was having a really hard time sorting through this parable – thank you for your insight and thoughts Daniella!

      • SuzD

        Thank you. Your words helped me to comprehend better as well.

    • Willonda

      Perfect.

  • These passages ask us to consider where we have placed authority; in our hands or in God’s? Am i more worried about the authority of society and what it will say and think or am I responding to the authority of God and what He wills and desires? The more I try to listen for God’s direction the more I am able to discern when I am listening more to my own desires and what society says I should do/think. I agree with Rachel that this is addressing a problem of rebelling against God’s way and serving other authorities. I think a deep inward question to address from this parable is where or how am I rebelling against God’s will and serving my own selfish purposes?

  • I think it’s about rebellion against God’s Word and Way and that no matter how successful or righteous we may appear on the outside or may sound with our words (like the son that said he would go work), God knows our hearts and our intentions, and the only true way to His Kingdom is through understanding and following him and treating all those around us as we would Christ Himself

    • Rachel

      I feel like I rebel dailya gainst God’s Way and Word and sometimes I even try and stop myself with an internal dialogue, and it’s so difficult to change sometimes and also to do what’s right when we want to do something else and then repent afterward. I am thankful for God’s grace in these situations

  • For me, the vineyard owner represents God and the servants are the prophets that went before Jesus to draw God’s people back to himself. It’s interesting how the parable mentions that the tenants of the vineyard did produce fruit. It reminds of the parable from yesterday, about The Narrow Gate, how people think they are doing the will of God and producing fruit, but in the end God says he doesn’t know them. We might be producing fruit in our lives but is it according the will of God? However, in this instance, the people reject God including his son Jesus. However, Jesus’ response to the parable is different than that of his disciples. The disciples response was a very earthly response because they didn’t have full understanding. We know how the story how ends, but do we (I) still respond the same as the disciples? I am so thankful for God’s grace and mercy that shows towards me.

    • Rachel

      I agree with the part about producing fruit in our lives, but is it really fruitful if it’s not God’s will?

  • My thoughts about this parable are that it is all about control. The tenants wanted the harvest/fruit all to themselves, and to be in control of it as if it were theirs. If I submit control of my earthly vineyard to its rightful owner, he will share all of it back with me. But it is that moment of submitting control and ownership that feels like a daily failure. It’s hard to do!

    • Pam

      Becky I really appreciated your comment. And yes, the daily submission of our world to Him is so hard sometimes. Thank you.

Further Reading...