2017-10-15 – Matthew 21.33-46 – Holy Eviction

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants.

33 “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34 When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35 But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ 39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

40 Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

2017-10-15 – Matthew 21.33-46 – Holy Eviction, pg 24

Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you.

 

Daniel Webster was a great American orator and politician in the 1800s. He served as a congressman, senator, and secretary of state for our great country. He was once asked, “What is the greatest thought that can occupy a man’s mind? To that Daniel responded “His accountability to God.”

Today’s message is called Holy Eviction as it deals with accountability, but more particularly, misuse of God’s resources and blessings. I personally have never been evicted, but I have counseled several in this regard, and it isn’t a pleasant conversation at all, if you could imagine.

Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 21:33, page 24 in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God.      But first let us Pray… 

This chapter 21 of Matthew’s Gospel covers a lot. As stated in our last sermon message, Jesus had just entered the city of Jerusalem for the last time on a colt as they shouted ‘Hosanna in the Highest’. Then as Jesus went along He saw that the temple was being defiled by hoodlums and He drove them out. Shortly after that, scripture says that Jesus cursed a barren fig tree and immediately it withered. I propose that the fig tree was representative of the Jewish nation and that it too was baring no good fruit. Jesus is judging Israel, and He judges the fruit of our lives as well. People were watching intently as He was performing miracles and they asked Jesus about His authority.

Last week we went over the concept that Actions Speak Louder than Words, and we went over The Parable of the Two Sons. Jesus told them at the end of that parable “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For the actions of the Priests and the Elders’ didn’t show that they truly loved the Lord.

That takes us to todays parable, which is an extension of what Jesus was trying to tell the Jewish leaders that day. Jesus continues now with the The Parable of the Wicked Tenants. Starting at verse 33 Jesus said:

33 “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34 When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35 But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ 39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.   [Let us pause there]

Talk about unruly tenants. Wow. Anyone here ever rent out land or homes?
My brother Mario has a number of rental units in Texas. He gets these really dilapidated houses, some of them that are destined to be demolished even. Then he and his crew of workers put life back into those structures. They fix them up and then they rent them out for a meager amount of money. These efforts of his, although they bring him a little money, are also kind of a ministry to the community and its people. He and I talk almost daily about what’s going on in each other’s lives, and I have witnessed him turn around several houses that were once in horrible states. And today there are families living in them, and he continues to minister to them. He bends over backward to do whatever he can within reason to be able to stay in those rental units. Most of the time, his renters just love him, and they respect what he is trying to do for them. However sometimes he too has unappreciative renters. People who take advantage of his kindness and they don’t pay their bills, and they even wreck again the houses that he has made available to them. I am sure it is frustrating at times.

That is kind of like the same scenario that we are dealing with here today in this parable. The tenants or renters of the land and the operations, are taking for granted, and even resisting, the ownership of the land for their own greedy purposes. Now this parable doesn’t go into all the details of their contract, but it would seem that the owner was allowing them to live there and work there for the benefit of getting some or all of the produce back. That was the agreement that they had. However, the owner was living out of country, so the tenants got a little too comfortable in their autonomous environment.

The owner tried at least three-times to get what was owed to him. He sent his slave workers a couple times, and the last time he even sent his own son to collect up the pressed wine from the produce. Each time the tenants not only refused, but even went to the extreme and killed them. What a miserable situation this was I am sure. What would you do under these circumstances? Jesus asks that very question to those who were in His company that day. In verse 40, the parable continues, and Jesus askes:

40 Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

From my perspective, that sounds like a reasonable thing to do. These renters were in violation of the law, and the landowner was due some justice, some retribution, and maybe even a little vengeance to put it mildly. They killed the owner’s slaves and his own son for goodness sake. I would be furious and I am pretty sure you would be as well. I would be beyond furious, I would be out of my mind I think under the circumstances. I let them live there, I trusted them and now they refuse to give me what is mine, they killed my workers, and they killed my son. The pain caused by those good for nothing xxxxxx would be unbearable.

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?  (That is a direct quote from King David’s Pslam 118).

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

So they realized at that point that Jesus was talking about them. It was kind of an “ah ha” moment. Jesus was insinuating that the Priests and the Pharisees were the like the wicked tenants. To help better understand their thinking in this regard, I thought it might be helpful to go back to that Psalm 118, as it helps to put things into perspective to what Jesus was suggesting what the Priests and the Pharisees were thinking. They knew this Psalm, and what it suggested.

Let me recite it now, but please know that this is a long reading so just relax and listen to God’s word as it was written by King David.

 Psalm 118 – A Song of Victory

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!

Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me?
The Lord is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
10 All nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees; they blazed like a fire of thorns;

in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.

15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly; 16  the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.” 17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
18 The Lord has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.

20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.

21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;  let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord. 27 The Lord is God, and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you.

29 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

The first part of this Psalm talks about the nation of Israel and how God has blessed it and will protect it. I found it interesting that it says “they surround me like bees”, that would be Israel surrounded by its enemies, and now the Muslim world, but again God continues to protect it.

Just look at this map today. You can just make out the little sliver of Israel in the middle of the swarm of opposition. The fact that Israel exists and thrives in that environment is a miracle. If there is anyone that should be “good tenants” it would be Israel.

But then right in the middle of this Psalm 118 we have the verse that Jesus quoted in the parable response.. verse 22 “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone”. So this is prophecy, written for the Jewish nation more than a thousand years before Jesus was born. And although God gave the Jewish nation the land of Israel, the builders, or the Jewish leadership rejected Jesus, the stone, and following His Resurrection from the grave, He will become the chief cornerstone.

So as it relates to this parable today, the Jews are correctly realizing that Jesus is calling them out. Jesus is boldly proposing that they are like the tenants of the land that God prepared for them. God has sent profits to turn the Jews around, but they didn’t listen. They rejected the profits council and prophecy. Then, just like the owner in the parable did, Father God (the Owner) sent His only Son and He was standing before them that day. And just like the tenants killed the owners son, the Jewish people will shortly murder Jesus, God’s only Son and the cornerstone. The cornerstone is the stone that the rest of the foundation is based upon. When the Jews reject Jesus the cornerstone, then Jesus is telling them everything they have will be taken away from them. And that is exactly what happened; 30+ years later, in AD 70, the Romans did just that. They destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish nation. So Jesus was speaking prophetically and the chief of priests and the Pharisees realized these parables Jesus told them that day, were foretelling of them losing power and influence and eventually everything, and they didn’t like it at all. This event was one more thing that set Jesus up for His eventual crucifixion.

So besides the wonderful history lesson we have here today, you might be asking, how does all this apply to me? Well, as with most all of these parables, Jesus has something to teach the people right in front of Him, but all of these can also be transferrable to our current situation as well.

All of us have been given so much to care take from the Great Owner in Heaven, Father God. It might be land, or possessions or money, but it also includes family, friends, jobs, and wisdom and knowledge as well. Even the beautiful nature around us, and the joy of His Holy Spirit. We have been given much, and just like the tenants, we are held responsible for managing all that well, and giving back to God the owner just a piece of the outpouring product of what we have been blessed with.

God loves you so much and He enjoys seeing you make good use of all His blessings, especially His Word, His Spirit and His Son. It is all about Love. He loves you and He wants you to be content, He wants you to be happy, and He wants you to love each other. When folks go against His will, when they reject Him, His Spirit and His Son, there will be repercussions. Besides not being able to enjoy the pleasures that come with being a Christian, they will be denied an eternity in Heaven, and will experience instead an eternity in Hell. This is something we shouldn’t take lightly. From a personal standpoint, we have everything to gain by accepting the free gift of grace and mercy offered by God through His Son on the cross. Will you consider making that decision today?

Like I fore mentioned about Daniel Webster at the start of this message today, He suggested that “Accountability to God” is something perhaps that we all should wrestle with at some point in our adult life. As the Creator of the Universe, we will all bow down before Him, and I look forward to that meeting, because I have nothing to fear. Jesus, His one and only Son paid my bail. Father God sent Him to take my place on the cross. That’s how much God loves me. And that’s how much He loves you. Daniel Webster also said “The Bible is a book of faith, and a book of doctrine, and a book of morals, and a book of religion, of special revelation from God; but it is also a book which teaches man his own individual responsibility, his own dignity, and his equality with his fellow-man.”

The Bible tells us that anyone who seeks Him will find Him. I believe that with all my heart. The Bible also says that anyone who rejects the Son, rejects God Himself, and anyone that rejects God goes to Hell. I know that sound harsh but the Bible also says in 2 Peter 3, that the Lord is patient, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

Have you come to repentance yet? Have you made the decision to follow Jesus?

Perhaps this is the day.

[Alter Call & Prayer]