1. Assume for a moment that you own a business. What qualities would you look for when hiring employees?
2. What methods would you use to try to ensure you were hiring dependable people?
Reliable, qualified employees are crucial to the success of any business. Employees need qualities such as honesty, integrity, leadership skills, experience, and dependability.
3. I have often wondered: How do individuals just starting out in the workplace get the experience they need to prove themselves if this is their first job? (They are placed under an experienced person for training!)
Jesus had drawn quite a crowd as He entered Jerusalem and they were very supportive of Him. But the religious leaders were infuriated by His actions—throwing the “money changers” and those selling lame and blind animals for sacrifice out of the Temple area. Now Jesus tells the religious leaders (and the crowd as they listened) two parables. The first was about a father who told his two sons to go work in the vineyard on a particular day. The first son told his father he would not go but later changed his mind and went. The second son told his father he would go but did not go. Jesus asked the religious leaders which son obeyed their father and they answered correctly, the first. Jesus said, “Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you!”
Then Jesus told them a second parable about a vineyard owner, which we will study today. We will discover what Jesus says will happen to those who reject Him.
A parable can be defined as: An earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
The Son Sent! Read Matthew 21:33-37
Even though the religious leaders were angry with Jesus, I don’t think they could walk away; they were intrigued by what Jesus had to say. After all, they thought they knew all the answers.
Notice that the vineyard owner planted the vines, built a wall, built a tower, prepared a wine press and hired tenant farmers to care for his vineyard in his absence. He exhibited exceptional devotion to his vineyard.
1. Who was taking all the risk?
2. What was the purpose of the fence or wall? The tower? The winepress in the center of the vineyard?
3. When it was time for the fruit to be harvested, the owner sent servants twice to collect his share of the harvest. How did the tenants respond each time?
4. How would you expect the landowner to respond to these brutal crimes?
5. How did he actually respond?
6. Do you think the religious leaders listening to this parable were astonished at the owner’s response?
Consider the following:
· Owner – God
· Vineyard – Israel
· Fence – Protection
· Watchtower – Prophets
· Winepress – Faithful Results
· Tenants/Stewards – Jewish leaders
The “servants” the landowner sent also represent the prophets God sent down through the ages to call His people to repentance, but most of them were rejected and many killed.
7. How would you describe God (the landowner) based on this parable?
The landowner’s response reflected God’s grace expressed through His patience with His people when they turned their backs on Him time after time.
8. Do we ever take God’s patience for granted or even approval and continue in our sin, neglecting God’s warnings?
9. After two different groups of servants had been beaten, stoned and/or killed, why would the owner send his son—the indication here is that it is his only son?
The Son Rejected! Read Matthew 21:38-39
1. What may have been the motives behind the tenant farmers killing the landowner’s son? (Greed; lack of respect for the son; an insatiable, selfish desire; ultimately a total disrespect for the landowner himself!)
2. What did the tenants hope to accomplish by this brutality?
3. What attitude displayed by the tenant farmers do we see displayed in our world today?
4. How do those attitudes get in the way of accepting the Son, Jesus?
Just as we can see from this parable that these tenants will not get away with their actions, neither will we get away with disrespecting God, HisWord, His messengers or His message!
5. How would you compare the events in these two verses to the events that were about to happen to Jesus in the next few days?
Just like the tenant farmers thoughts about the son, Jesus’ opponents considered Him to be an obstacle they needed to remove. He was too great a threat to their authoritative positions.
The Son Vindicated! Read Matthew 21:40-45
1. How did Jesus tighten the noose around their necks? (Recall Nathan, the prophet and his encounter with David after his affair with Bathsheba, killing Uriah, and taking her as his wife. 2 Sam. 12:6-7. David, in his anger at the rich man who had taken the one sheep a poor man had, passed sentence on himself. Nathan said, “Thou art the man.”)
With His question, Jesus gave the religious leaders a chance to look at their rejection of God’s Son, Jesus, through the eyes of God. Their answer described the judgment that would be rendered to them.
2. Jesus quoted from Psalm 118:22-23 concerning the rejection of a stone. What are the characteristics and uses of this very important stone? (It is the foundation stone of a building. It can also be the capstone of an arch, without which the arch will fall.)
3. For what reasons might a builder reject a stone?
4. Why did the Jewish leaders reject Jesus?
5. How did Jesus use the grinding ability of a stone to demonstrate the fate of these who rejected Him?
6. How does Jesus serve as both a cornerstone and a stumbling block at the same time? (To those who accept Him, He becomes the foundation for their life. To those who reject Him, He becomes a stumbling block that they just can’t accept.)
In the passage concerning the money changers in the Temple, the religious leaders had questioned Jesus’ authority to throw them out, but here Jesus turned the tables and confronted them instead. It is amazing how quickly Jesus can put us on the defensive!
Jesus told the religious leaders that God would take His kingdom away from them and entrust it to others. The Jewish leaders realized Jesus was speaking against them. No doubt they were angry, confused, and unsure how to respond. They were convicted but obviously not convinced to change. Generally when someone gets angry enough and confused enough the response is violence!
Summarize and Challenge!
1. With whom do you identify in this story?
2. In your life, is Jesus the cornerstone? Why or why not?
3. How can we help others understand the peril of rejecting Jesus?
4. How can we be welcoming of unbelievers without compromising the truths of the gospel? (Establish a relationship with them that will let them know we love them and desire that they come to know Jesus for their eternal salvation.)
Take time this week to evaluate how your life portrays Jesus to those around you.
Are you openly sharing your faith with others?
Do you have a deep burden for those who are lost and don’t know Jesus as their savior?
Do you have an ongoing prayer strategy for friends, family, and others who are lost?
What needs to change in order for you to be more proactive in reaching others?